Where Irish eyes and ears are smilingWe’ve rounded up the top five music spots to check out the next time you’re in the Dublin area.
Just because I struck out in Dublin early in the week doesn’t mean the city is bereft of Irish folk music. A number of traditionally minded pubs host “trad” sessions — the local term for native folk — later in the week, particularly Thursday through Saturday. Here are some of the best.
THE BRAZEN HEAD
The oldest pub in Dublin — alcohol has been served on this site in one building or another since 1198 — the Brazen Head offers music every night of the week, though it’s particularly well known for its Sunday-afternoon sessions, during which guests are invited to take a singing role with the band. 20 Bridge St. Lower, Dublin 8, 011-353-01-677-9549, www.brazenhead.com
THE IRISH HOUSE PARTY
After the massive success of Riverdance, a few local musicians started this show as a response to, as the website puts it, the resulting “overly twee image of traditional Ireland” that was so common at other Irish music and dance shows at the time. Along with music, the event, held at Dublin’s Lansdowne Hotel, features a crash course on Irish dancing and a four-course meal.
Pembroke Road, Dublin 4, 011-353-01-661-8410, www.theirishhouseparty.ie
If you want thick crowds singing along to songs you know all the words to, this is probably your spot. Although the pub is more than 200 years old, it gained prominence in the Dublin folk scene in the 1960s as the home base for the Dubliners. For fans of the band, it’s a must-do pilgrimage site.
15 Merrion Row, 011-353-01-660-7194, www.odonoghues.ie
Like most of the traditional pubs in Dublin, O’Neill’s is older than the United States, dating back more than three centuries. It boasts some of the best pub grub in the city and offers music every day of the week May through September and Sundays and Mondays the rest of the year. But bear in mind that patrons here are as likely to hear the Pogues as they are an old Irish ballad.
2 Suffolk St., 011-353-01-679-3656, www.oneillsbar.com
TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC PUB CRAWL
This crawl is the best option for folks new to the genre and who want to learn more. The pub crawl visits the upstairs private rooms of three Dublin bars, beginning with Oliver St. John Gogarty’s. From there, two musicians take tourists on the crawl, playing music and explaining the history and instruments of trad. 011-353-01-475-3313, www.musicalpubcrawl.com