15 BEST Pubs in Dublin for Live Music (Have a Craic!)

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Music has always played a major role in Irish culture. From indigenous sounds to U2, Ireland is notorious for delivering remarkable musicians. Going to Dublin without experiencing live music scenes would be like going to Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower.

With almost 750 pubs in the capital city, it might be challenging to single one out. Most of the guides will point you to the very touristic Temple Bar —an animated neighbourhood at the South of the Liffey River.

The area is a vibrant cultural center with a good-quality nightlife that is worth the journey.  However, some of the best evening live performance are to be discovered off-the-beaten-path. Here is a list of the 15 Best Pubs in Dublin for live music that will oil the wheels a little.

From contemporary to ancestral gigs, the entire land is prolific of eclectic artists. The country that uses a harp as an emblem clearly manifests an undeniable passion for the art.

#1 The Cobblestone on King Street

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The venue defines itself as “A drinking pub with a music problem”. Indeed the Mulligan Family, owners of the pub, has been playing Irish traditional music for 5 generations.

Their live scene produces customary shows on a daily basis. You can also practice your instrumentals skills with “The Balaclavas” on Wednesdays. The first 2.5-hour session is free and all levels are welcome!

Also, note that Uilleann Pipes performances take place each first Tuesdays of every month.

Admission FREE

#2 The International Bar on Wicklow Street

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If you are a Jazz and Folk fan, then the International Bar is for you. Every evening, the countries’ top talents will perform in the Lounge. The entertainment is free but a donation for the artists is always welcome.

The International Bar was also the birthplace of the “Comedy Cellar”, the First Comedy Club in Dublin. If you are not a music fan but appreciate a great guffaw, you are in for a treat.

Live Music Admission FREE/ Comedy nights €5 to 10€

#3 The Mezz on Eustace Street

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The Mezz has a rocky vibe and performs all types of tunes. This unpretentious establishment welcomes a great crowd all week long. If you are agoraphobic, avoid Saturdays. However if you fancy a sweaty underground scene and a gloomy atmosphere, this is the quintessential spot.

Admission FREE

#4 Whelan’s on Wexford Street

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This institution have introduced thousands of different types of artists since its opening in 1989. Its ideal size generates an unprecedented environment. The pub both accommodates a substantial throng and arouses an exclusive feel. It is a place where audience is in communion with the performers.  Moreover, “PS I Love you” fans will uncover the iconic live stage of their cherished movie.

Admission €10 to €25

#5 The Workmans Club in Wellington Quay

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This Indie spot is legendary for being the scene for ‘in vogue’ and worldwide promising talents. For 115 years, this old school boozer was Dublin Working Men’s Club. After a 7-year interruption, a new name and a new mission (supplying a space for artists and philosophers); The Workmans Club has won the Hot Press/IMRO Live Music Venue of Year 2018.

Admission €6 to €12

#6 The Bowery on Rathmines Road

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A place made of repurposed timber from a nearby convent is already quite intriguing. Embellish its décor with portholes from an Irish Naval Ship –used as small windows. Then, coat its ground with wooden flooring planks from the Bolands Mill. Add a bar bursting with rum and a stage acting for rock.  Fit it all in an 18thcentury pirate ship and you will can get a sense of the ambience at The Bowery.

Admission Free to €20

#7 The Grand Social on Liffey Street

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The Grand Social has several venues including The Loft, a circus-designed room/bar. The Loft stages first-class gigs and connects to a covered beer garden. The Ballroom Bar is where the crème de la crème of Dublin’s DJs perform. Every Saturday, The Grand Social highlights its boho facet and hosts its own indoor vintage flea market.

Admission Free to €20

#8 The Auld Dubliner in Temple Bar

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Located in the Heart of a touristic area, locals remain the everlasting customers of the pub (best sign of quality). A sweet mix of traditional and coeval Irish rhythm plays daily from 12PM.

 Admission Fee: Free

#9 O’Donoghue’s Pub in Merion Row

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“The Dubliners”, one of the most acclaimed Irish bands, found their quarters in O’Donogues. Indeed the folk group was dawn and frequently performed in the establishment. Since then, a considerable number of illustrious artists were launched from their live scene. Besides, the pub is Bruce Springsteen and Rihanna’s prime choice when they visit the capital.

Traditional Irish Music kicks off every evening from 9PM (5PM on Saturdays).

Admission Fee: Free

#10 The Brazen Head on Bridge St Lower

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The Brazen Head is the oldest bar in Ireland. The institution has been serving pints for hundreds of years. A medieval feeling hits you immediately at the threshold. It doubtlessly comes from the fortress design with a curved opening and the quadrangle’s masonry.

Furthermore, revolutionaries, such as Robert Emmet or Michael Collins, planned their historical insurgency from the public house. Poets and novelists, like James Joyce and Brendan Behan, were also regular customers.

Contemporary and folk music seisiún nightly from 9:30PM.

Admission Fee: Free

#11 The Porterhouse Temple Bar

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The Porterhouse is not only notorious for being the first Pub/Brewery in Dublin but also for the quality of their homebrewed beers. Indeed, the Brewing Industry International Awards rewarded them with two gold medals.

Their live scene has been on every night since 1996. Both “trad” and new genre share the stage nearly nightly.

Admission Fee: Free

#12 The Stag’s Head on Dame Court

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This authentic Victorian pub won two awards for being the “Best Pub in Ireland” (by National Hospitality) and “Sky Bar of the Year”. Built with the best materials and the latest technology at the time, the tavern was the earliest in the country using electric-powered lights. From the stained glass to the wooden panels, the décor is incredibly well preserved.

The Stag’s tail, downstairs, is where the show goes on five times a week.

Admission Fee: Free

#13 The Temple Bar Pub in Temple Bar

Picture of The Temple Bar Pub in Temple Bar

The Temple Bar Pub receives the award of “Traditional Pub of the year” annually since 2002. Over 20 gigs entertain visitors every week. Their whiskey selection is one of the biggest in the country.

Some of the main attractions surround the establishment and the streets can be very busy. The beer garden will provide the ultimate refuge from the very touristic neighbourhood.  

Admission Fee: Free

#14 McNeills in Capel Street

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With two open fires and a staff with great conversations, McNeills is the homey pub away from home. It is a cosy and quite small watering spot hosting six live music nights a week (including an open session on Thursdays). Few tourists pop up sometimes but most of the customers are regular Dubliners. This hidden gem is a classic spot for anyone looking for a legitimate Irish venture.

Admission Fee : Free

#15 Ned O’Sheas on Lower Bridge

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If you are seeking your potential Irish roots, the house is offering to help you out. Stop by and enjoy a cracking Guinness or a neat whiskey. Listen (nightly) to live “trad” music. Experience set dancing (Mondays). Sit with the team of genealogists and unveil your family tree.

Admission Fee: Free

More Live Music Epic Venues

If “live music pub crawl” is on your bucket list then here a three more that also worth a visit:

  • Devitts, on Camden Street, is a family business that offers some of the best “black stuff”. Free Trad session 7 days a week.
  • Darkey Kellys, on Fishamble Street, has an extensive whiskey selection, and free “trad” music each night.
  • The Merchants Arch, on Wellington Quay, is a fairly new scene. From Modern to traditional tunes, enjoy the beat on a daily basis. Sports fans can also follow GAA, Rugby 6 Nations and Champions League on the TV screen.

What are some of the Best Live Music Pubs in Ireland?

  • Róisín Dubh, Galway, is known for being the best in the West.
  • Connolly’s of Leap, West Cork, is a musician haven. They always welcome, cater to their musicians and offer them shelter. Covered with thousands of posters, this cult location used to be a pilgrimage for artists all over the world.
  • Buckley’s, Killarney, is a very social and cozy venue. The oak on the walls, the warm fire, and the “trad” sessions will make you travel back in time.

If that’s not enough, streets are also crowded with talented bands and solo artists. Check out Grafton Street in Dublin or Shop Street in Galway.

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