Few things bring people together more effectively than food or drink, but if there’s something able to match these two it’s music. The right tunes can make or break a night out, they’re the difference between us checking our phones in our seats or dancing our hearts out on the floor; and just as when it comes to dishes and tipples, we all know what we like and what gets us moving.
Fortunately, Ireland is home to numerous venues that take special care of their music, so no matter if you’re into traditional, alternative or anything in between, there’s a place out there in tune with your preferences. Check out some of the best music venues in Ireland.
If you feel nothing beats a session and you love a good bit of trad, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Ireland. From the more old-school venues to those with a more modern edge, the craic is mighty and choosing a highlight is not easy, but here are some of the must-visit spots.
Pipers Corner – Dublin
This recently opened venue offers a new space for authentic trad music in Dublin’s City Centre. Opened by well-known uilleann piper Seán Potts and renown Dublin publican Eamonn Briody, it’s a place where you’ll find nightly sessions with many of Ireland’s most talented Irish traditional musicians. Bonus points for having a notable selection of craft beers to enjoy while listening.
More information: piperscorner.ie
O’Donoghues – Dublin
This pub’s history traces back to 1789 and music has always played an important role. A favourite of Christy Moore and the Dubliners, it pleases both tourists and locals with a real Irish music experience on seven nights a week at the bar. Observe its rich history hanging on the walls while enjoying a pint of the black stuff and listening to accomplished traditional musicians live.
More information: odonoghues.ie
An Púcán – Galway
Galway’s finest musicians have the spotlight seven nights a week in this lively favourite of both tourists and locals. There’s a mix between modern and old-school tunes and you can find folk, proper trad and local bands on stage. With two daily sessions and special shows on the back stage on Fridays and Saturdays, it will get those feet tapping one way or another in no time!
More information: anpucan.ie
Sin É – Cork
Open since 1889, this is no newcomer, instead, it’s one of the most well established bars for those looking to enjoy some traditional Irish music in the Rebel City. For the last five decades, they’ve offered non-stop trad sessions every evening of the week and they’ve a very special line up prepared for the coldest nights of the year so keep an eye for their winter sessions, nightly from 7:00 pm and let the sound warm your heart.
More information: corkheritagepubs.com/pubs/sin-e
Dolans Pub and Restaurant – Limerick
The winner for Best Entertainment Experience both in Ireland and in the world at the 2017 Irish Pubs Global Awards is a must-visit place for anyone with a soft spot for live Irish music in the Treaty City. Enjoy traditional tunes every night in Dolans Pub and Restaurant, one of five different music venues coexisting at Dolans (thanks to it’s different areas, you’ll also find a place for rock, pop and other music styles).
More information: dolans.ie
While there are several prestigious jazz festivals taking place in Ireland throughout the year, you don’t have to wait to enjoy the vibrant melodies of a live act. Below, five venues with frequent jazzy performances as well as laid-back, alternative tunes.
The Mint Bar at The Westin Hotel – Dublin
Fridays at Jazzdays at this glamorous bar in the heart of Dublin city centre as the venue hosts its popular Swingin’ Fridays. Experience the soothing sound of some of the country’s top jazz acts such as renown trumpet player Charles Cavanagh or The Velvet Lounge Band, featuring Ireland’s top jazz vocalist, Cormac Kenevey and one of Ireland’s most experienced pianists, Cian Boylan. Saturdays have a modern twist, with tunes by guest bands such as The Ratzingers, The Goods and The Rattle Shakes.
More information: themintbar.ie
Café en Seine – Dublin
This sophisticated francophile venue peaks at Parisian charms on Sunday afternoons as it welcomes the Stella Bass Jazz Trio for a weekly gig. Enjoy their relaxing tunes while brunching in style and embrace la joie de vivre with a cup of great coffee, glass of wine or superb cocktail.
More information: cafeenseine.ie
The Harbour Bar – Bray
Every year during the May Bank Holiday, Wicklow’s vibrant suburb of Bray becomes Ireland’s Jazz capital and for those wishing to enjoy the genre the rest of the year, The Harbour Bar is the place to go. While the venue lends its stage to different types of music, they often feature jazz acts as well as blues, folk, indie and alternative music.
More information: theharbourbar.ie
Crane Lane Theatre – Cork
Cork’s home of Blues & Burlesque offers a glamorous experience of vintage vibes and sparkling entertainment. Located within a former gentlemen’s club, it’s described as being “part country pub, part ballroom and part burlesque cabaret.” Enjoy a cocktail surrounded by the glamorous glitz of the 20’s and 30’s and check out their busy calendar of gigs which includes plenty of blues, swing and all that jazz!
More information: cranelanetheatre.ie
Black Cat – Galway
This proud sponsor of the Galway Jazz Festival is a place for lovers of wine and jazz. Inspired by the European Jazz scene, this intimate venue host frequent jazz evenings where wine and tapas accompany the melodies of guest artists. Enjoy live jazz sessions on Sunday evenings and treat yourself to a relaxed and leisurely experience of Mediterranean inspired flavours.
More information: blackcat.ie/jazz
If you feel a song is not complete without an electric guitar solo, don’t panic. There’s plenty of places to rock the night away so grab that leather jacket and get moving.
Whelan’s – Dublin
It’s hard to pinpoint Whelan’s in one particular genre, but one thing is certain, this place rocks until late. Acknowledged internationally as a world class music venue, since its opening in 1989 it has hosted an eclectic mix of up and coming musicians and established artists. From silent disco evenings to indie rock club and guest DJ’s, there’s plenty to choose from. For the rock heads, Saturday’s Indie Rock Club is the best time to go, with live gigs by the coolest bands well after midnight in the venue’s second floor.
More information: whelanslive.com
The Bowery – Dublin
Get ready to rock the boat at this music-oriented venue that promises “rock ‘n’ rum” and one of the most eclectics array of rock acts, from old school and acoustic, to hard rock and grunge. Whether you’re more Metallica or The Beatles, there’s a gig for you. Did we mention the bar is shaped like a pirate ship and it features a rum bar and a cool selection of rum cocktails? Yes please.
More information: thebowery.ie
Bruxelles (and The Flanders Bar) – Dublin
A statue of rock ‘n’ roll legend Phil Lynott a.k.a. Thin Lizzy, welcomes you to this bar, which features three different venues in one. The Saloon Bar takes the ground floor, with frequent guest DJs and a mix of pop, rock and more dance-able tunes playing (that is, when there’s no big sports game taking over guest’s attention). Go deeper and discover The Flanders Bar, an underground bar where Iron Maiden and the like take over the -very loud- speakers. Finally, there’s The Zodiac Bar, a chiller lounge with more alternative yet equally rocking vibes.
More information: bruxelles.ie
Black Dog Salon & Mezcalaria – Cork
One with a bark and a bite, this alternative rock venue lends its stage to a mix of indie, alternative, punk, ska, metal and classic rock. Its decor channels NYC in the 70’s and along with world renown bands, you’ll find a wide selection of fine tequilas and whiskies from around the world as well as beers and cocktails. This music-obsessed venue is open seven nights a week and Thursdays to Sundays it features live acts supported by talented DJs until late.
More information: theblackdog.ie
Sally Longs – Galway
This one is not for the faint of heart, and they like it that way. Galway’s only dedicated rock bar plays the meanest tracks since 1998. With tourist-stopping street art on its walls featuring the likes of Axl Rose, Mick Jagger, Bono and Steven Tyler it’s no wonder the place is a favourite of local and visiting rockers looking for a good pint and an even better jukebox.
More information: sallylongs.business.site
Tramline – Dublin
One of Dublin’s newest nightclubs, Tramline is a sleek and large multi-area, multi-purpose venue with an intimate bar and a big, inviting dance floor that just begs you to step in and move. Modern and with a trendy mix of neon and industrial touches, it gives the spotlight to an eclectic array of DJs, musicians and performers so there’s always something going on.
More information: tramline.ie
IRO at Opium – Dublin
This recently revamped venue is home to a gorgeous bar, a modern restaurant and IRO, a fabulous dance floor and night club area open late and sound tracked by some of Dublin’s best DJs and international talent. Inspired by Tokyo’s electrifying colours and a manga aesthetic, this state of the art venue features several LED screens, two bars, an outdoor smoking area and a very large dance floor you won’t want to leave.
More information: opium.ie/spaces/rooms
Lillie’s Bordello – Dublin
This lavish late bar is not just a great spot to sip on a cocktail. With great music every night of the week and brilliant guest DJs to soundtrack their skilled mixologists’ craft, the tunes are so good you’ll actually want to get up from their ultra-comfortable velvet couches to dance in its luxurious surroundings. Want to take your evening to the next level? Lillie’s VIP area is THE place to party in style.
More information: lilliesbordello.ie
The Front Door Pub – Galway
One of Galway’s favourite party venues features live bands and DJs seven nights a week. On top of that, they open late and have a spacious floor, so groups both large and small will find an area to dance until the wee hours while enjoying award winning cocktails.
More information: frontdoorpub.com
The Left Bank – Kilkenny
This is one of the Marble City’s most popular venues and all day round there’s something going on. During the day, you’ll find a lively restaurant and pub, and by night, this impressive building becomes party station. Chill in the main bar or move to one of its several areas. If it’s dancing what you seek, then set camp at LB2, the chic late bar on the first floor which features live music and great DJs every weekend.
More information: leftbank.ie
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.