In the introduction to the Dubliners published by Penguin Books, Dubliners is declared a "stages of man" collection of related stories. And, as such, it is a narrative replete with church-related ideas and events, political ideas and situations, and music and poetry--all of which are part of the Irish culture:
Molly Ivors is the Irish nationalist who accuses Gabriel of being a "West Briton" (a member of the English nation in Ireland). For, when Gabriel says that he goes on a cycling trip to France and Belgium, Miss Ivors lashes out,
--And haven't you your own land to visit...that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?
Later Gabriel reviews the dinner speech he will deliver, wondering what Miss Ivors will think; he decides to contrast his aunts with her, indicating her lack of "hospitality." However, Molly leaves before the dinner, anyway.
In his speech, Gabriel refers to his old aunts as "the Three Graces of the Dublin musical world." At one table where Bartell D'Arcy is seated, "The subject of talk was the opera company which was then at the Theatre Royal," and the guests discuss tenors.
When people leave at midnight, Gabriel notices his wife, who listens to an air sung by Mr. D'Arcy; as he watches, Gabriel imagines that if he were a painter, he would depict the scene, naming it Distant Music.
After they arrive at the hotel, Gretta reveals that she is thinking about Michael Furey and a song, "The Lass of Aughrim."
The setting is Christmas time.
Lily, the maid, has a name associated with the flower that is a symbol of the Archangel Gabriel, the name of the protagonist who is attracted to her.
At one of the dinner tables, Mrs. Malins tells others that her son is going to Mount Melleray, a Trappist monastery for a rest. A Protestant in the group, Mr. Browne, cannot believe that the monks let someone stay for free, and that they "never spoke, got up at two in the morning and slept in their coffins."
After they leave, he and Gretta ride in the cab to the hotel which crosses O'Connell Bridge and pass the statue of Daniel O'Connell; known as "The Liberator, he achieved Catholic Emancipation in 1829.
Gretta tells her husband that Michael Furey died after she left for the convent school at Nuns' Island.