GUINNESS AND A SHOW: THE LIVE MUSIC SCENE IN DUBLIN

One of the best ways to connect with a local culture and its people is through their expressive arts. Dublin boasts a vibrant live music scene in charming historic pubs. Sample local brews, listen to contemporary and folk music, and hear the tales that chronicle the Irish soul. Here is a sample of places to explore on your Illume journey.

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  1. O'Donoghue's – If you are looking to hear some traditional Irish music, you can’t go wrong with O’Donoghue’s, where the popular Irish folk group “The Dubliners” formed.  Although located in the touristy Merrion Row area near St. Stephen’s Green, you’ll find a lively but diverse mix of both tourists and locals.  Catch nightly informal sessions here from some talented local musicians.

  2.  JJ Smyth’s – If you are a fan of jazz or blues, this is the place to go in Dublin.  JJ Smyth’s is an intimate venue where both the performers and spectators are serious about good music—so expect a welcoming but subdued atmosphere.  There is a bar at street level where you can order drinks before the show and another one upstairs where the musicians play.  Literary aficionados take note: this bar was frequented by Brendan Behan, and is the site where Thomas Moore was born in 1779.  Check out the bar’s official website for information about upcoming gigs.

  3. Doyle’s Bar (The Ruby Sessions) – If you are a fan of singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran, Glen Hansard, or Hozier (all of whom have played here), don’t miss the Ruby Sessions, a weekly acoustic club held every Tuesday night at Doyle’s.  This bar is located right by Trinity College and is popular among students, so expect a young crowd—but some serious musical talent.

  4. Cobblestone Pub – Locals and tourists alike consistently rate this as an all-around great pub to see some traditional Irish music.   Located in Smithfield, this pub is removed from the touristy neighborhood of Temple Bar, but still easily accessible for those coming from the South banks of the River Liffey.  Here you will find a cheery atmosphere, friendly faces, good pours, and good music—all seven nights of the week.

  5. The Brazen Head – Rounding out the list is Ireland’s oldest pub The Brazen Head, which dates back to 1198.  This accolade makes it popular among tourists, so if you are looking to go where the locals go, this may not be your place.  Nevertheless, it is still highly rated for the food, music, pours, and overall experience—and is known to have been visited by James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Jonathan Swift.  How often do you spend an evening in a place that has been in operation since the 12th century?

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