My hometown of Dublin is not only a wonderfully friendly capital city, but it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy live music. In fact, music is a massive part of Dublin’s culture and history, which means that the choice of live music pubs in Dublin is phenomenal. The good thing is, however, that the city centre is easy to walk around.
I have such amazing memories of going to see live music in Dublin from my teenage years onwards. I guess in my culture at that time, it was almost a coming of age rite. I also have great music memories from Galway. If you’re planning to go to Galway, be sure to check out our Live Music in Galway feature. But now let’s dive into Dublin’s best music bars.
Live Music In Dublin: Our List of the Best Dublin Music Pubs
For when it is safe to travel again or for local explorers when allowed – updated September 2020 – be sure to check with venues what the situation is due to COVID-19 restrictions
1. O’Donoghues Bar
15 Merrion Row
O’Donoghue’s Bar is considered somewhat of an institution, when it comes to live traditional Irish music.
It was opened by Maureen and Paddy O’Donoghue way back in 1934. Its rich history can be felt in its walls but it welcomes visitors today in the 21st century with the same warmth as its early days of the 1930’s. These days it is world famous!
Although I might be showing my age a bit now, I can tell you that back in the day O’Donoghues was a live music pub that many of us associated with the Dubliners. Did you know that lots of famous musicians have graced its doors, including Bruce Springsteen?
25 Wexford Street
I have to admit to spending many a happy Sunday in Whelan’s. It was almost a ritual for me and some of my friends to turn up to Whelan’s on a Sunday to hear whatever live music was on.
Photo credit: Whelan’s
Whelan’s Dublin Live Music Events
Apart from being a great music venue, Whelan’s is one of the pubs in Dublin that still retains a very authentic feeling in terms of its decor and atmosphere.
Ever since 1989 Whelan’s has been building its reputation as one of the most respected, best live music venues in the whole world. Today it has three different stages for gigs, but it has also been used as a backdrop for television and movies. Ed Sheeran remembers Whelan’s as the place where his career started.
3. The Cobblestone
77 North King Street
You know the tagline on The Cobblestone’s website says it all: A drinking pub with a music problem
Opened by musician Tom Mulligan, this is a great traditional Irish music pub. The Cobblestone has a wonderful atmosphere, and you can feel the respect and love for music there. Actually Tom Mulligan’s family have been playing Irish trad music for five generations…that we know about!
Photo credit: The Cobblestone
This is a place where traditions are kept alive and music is not played for show. Try not to miss this authentic experience, with leading Irish musicians playing there every night of the week.
The Cobblestone Dublin Live Music Events
Located in Smithfield, which is one of Dublin’s oldest neighbourhood, the Cobblestone is only 10 to 15 minutes walk from the main parts of the city centre, or you can go on the Luas. For a taster from wherever you are right now, click play on the video below!
4. The Mezz Temple Bar
23/24 Eustace St
While the Mezz in Temple Bar is not a trad Irish music venue, it is a fun and funky place to go to enjoy live music seven nights a week. Featuring all different genres such as blues, folk, reggae, pop, rock, swing and open mic, this Dublin music venue sweeps down to its rear entrance on Temple Lane, making it a deceptively large pub. (The photo below is from The Mezz Facebook page
Photo credit: The Mezz Bar
5. The Old Storehouse Bar and Restaurant
3 Crown Alley
If you fancy getting to a live music session a bit earlier in the day, then The Old Storehouse has you covered. They have gigs that start off at 3 pm and go on right until closing time.
Photo credit: The Old Storehouse
6. Merchant’s Arch
48-49 Wellington Quay
The Merchant’s Arch is another day time option for enjoying live music in Dublin. This warmly decorated traditional Irish bar is situated in an 1821 building in a central location on the Quays, in Dublin city centre.
Music starts at 1 pm each day and goes on til closing time. You can eat tasty Irish food there, so maybe head there for lunch and live music.
Photo credit: Mechant’s Arch Bar
7. Porterhouse Temple Bar
16-18 Parliament St
Spread out over three levels, The Porterhouse in Temple Bar, opened in 1996 as Ireland’s first brew pub. Back then I remember there was lots of curiosity, but according to the owners no one really thought it would last, especially their accountants!!
Fast forward 23 years later (2019 time of writing), the Porterhouse is not only a success story in Dublin, but has since opened its brand in Covent Garden in London, expanded in Dublin and even over in New York.
Photo credit: The Porterhouse
These days there is live music every night of the week at the Porterhouse, with trad Irish music at the weekends mostly.
8. The Brazen Head
20 Lower Bridge St
Photo credit: The Brazen Head
Check out the Facebook text for this photo: “Have you met Noel? He has been working in the Brazen Head for 25 years. People come here just to sit at his bar and watch him work his magic. Come down and say hello to the best bartender.”
This wonderful photo somehow captures the spirit of Ireland’s oldest pub, which has been the meeting place for Ireland’s historic rebels….and of course, lots of everyday people …some who may even be rebels in their own lunchtime!!!
The Brazen Head attracts some of Ireland’s best musicians, who come to this lantern-lit pub to give visitors just like you great memories, created from their love and passion for music, Depending when you visit, the music could be true Irish trad or it might be of a more contemporary flavour!
9. SIN É
15 Ormond Quay Upper
Whatever you do, don’t mistake the name of this Dublin music bar as the word Sin…as in Sinner!!! It is actually in Irish and is pronounced – Shin Ay. It means – That’s It.
Photo credit: Sin É
Although this is not a trad music venue, it has built a great reputation for live music since it opened in 2001. Check out their listings that feature live music from international and local bands seven nights a week. Admission is free. Packed with lots of music memorabilia, Sin É is one of Dublin city’s most eclectic live music venues.
Sin É Dublin Live Music Events
10. The Auld Dubliner
24 – 25 Temple Bar
Here’s another great choice if you want to listen to some live music earlier in the day. Most days the carefully selected musicians start playing around 12 or 12.30 midday.
Located in Temple Bar, this pub gets very busy so you need to try to get in early to get a seat. Great music and atmosphere however!
11. The Dame Tavern
18 Dame Court
A firm favourite with Dubliners, the snug Dame Tavern is renowned to serve some of the city’s best pints of Guinness. By day it is the perfect place for a pint and a chat, but at night the atmosphere is buzzing with great live music.
The staff are really friendly. Let me clarify this in more detail. Dublin bar staff are mostly a friendly, welcoming lot. The team at the Dame Tavern have been known to take this to a special level however. In February 2019, Graeme Woods, who was a 40 year old bartender at the Dame Tavern, lost his battle to cancer. Tributes were paid to him, one of which I have copied below for you to read:
Kelly Grace wrote: “I’m from North Carolina, US. When we were in Dublin in 2013 we stumbled across the Dame, after a recommendation from our bartender at another pub. Graeme was welcoming, warm, sweet and completely made our night. Since meeting him, I’ve always recommended the Dame to travelling friends.”
Photo credit: The Dame Tavern
12. Oliver St. John Gogarty’s
18-21 Anglesea St
Situated in Dublin’s Temple Bar, is The Oliver St John Gogarty Bar which was named in honour of the famous playwright, poet and surgeon.
This is a superb venue to come along to for Irish trad music, with sessions kicking off around 2.30 pm every day and running until 2 o’clock in the morning.
Designed in the latter part of the 19th century, this Dublin live music pub should definitely be added to your list of places to go and enjoy some great Irish “craic agus ceol” (great fun and music).
Photo credit: The Oliver St John Gogarty Bar
And here we have another wonderful Facebook photo and post, which transmits the essence of Dublin to you wherever you might be: “A little bit of rain never prevented anyone from going out in Dublin!”
13. McNeill’s Pub
140 Capel Street
Located in the city centre’s Capel Street, McNeills’s has live music on offer six nights a week. It also boasts award winning food and a heated smoking garden.
This is another good option to soak up some Irish culture in a fun, friendly atmosphere, while you’re visiting Dublin.
14. The Grand Social
35 Lower Liffey Street
The Grand Social is a club and live music venue that opened its doors in 2010. Looking over Dublin’s famous landmark, the Ha’Penny Bridge, The Grand Social has built a reliable reputation over the years for being a iconic live music venue in Dublin city. Their tech team has been nominated for the industry accolade of the IMRO Tech Team of the Year.
The Grand Social Dublin Live Music Events
This boho venue has had some superb acts over the years including Primal Scream and Damian Dempsey.
Photo credit: The Grand Social
15. The Celt Bar
81 Talbot St
On one hand you could consider the Celt Bar to be a kind of convivial neighbourhood bar, but on the other hand, it should not be overlooked for its Irish trad music sessions seven nights a week and its classic Irish recipes.
Only moments from Dublin’s famous O’Connell Street, The Celt Bar’s manager, Willy O’Connell (yes I get the name coincidence!) is always on the lookout for new acts to keep you entertained.
16. Fibber Magees
80-81 Parnell St
Fibber Magees is also situated just off O’Connell Street and boasts Dublin’s biggest beer garden.
Live music is on three nights a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Some really famous acts have played here over the years including U2.
Photo credit: Fibber Magees
Fibber Magees Dublin Live Music Events
17. O’Sheas Merchant & Ned O’ Sheas
12a Lower Bridge Street
If you are in Dublin on a Monday night, and wish to try to do some Irish dancing, then this is the place to go! If you feel a bit shy, drink an Irish whiskey or a pint of Guinness and that will help you to get up and do a jig!
This Dublin live music pub has a long history of trad Irish music, in fact Ned O’Shea used to be an Irish National Squeeze Box (accordion) champion. Lots of well known Irish musicians have played in O’Shea’s Merchant & Ned O’Shea’s over the years. Ned himself has led countless trad music sessions well into, what we call in Ireland, the wee hours!! There is music on seven nights a week.