The 10 Best Places to See Live Music in Dublin

Music plays a huge role in Irish culture and you will be able to find live musical performances all over the country every night of the week, people from all over the world come here wanting to experience it. I have seen live music performed all over Dublin and these are the places where I think you will best be able to find it!

Where to See Live Music in Dublin? The places that I would recommend most highly for live music are as follows:

  1. Whelans
  2. The Cobblestone
  3. O’Neill’s
  4. The Workman’s Club
  5. Darkey Kelley’s
  6. O’Donoghue’s
  7. The Grand Social
  8. The Stag’s Head
  9. The Globe
  10. Badbob’s

While some of these places are great for traditional Irish music, others are great for contemporary genres. Read on to find out which places you would most like to visit.

If you are interested in a tour that will bring you around some of these venues, you can find my recommendations for the best tours of Dublin.Opens in a new tab.

Venues

Ireland has more international #1 artists per capita than any other country in the world (please don’t try to test me on that fact!)! From U2 to Niall Horan and everything in between, some of the most famous artists in the world can all trace their origins to this fair island. Many of the most famous musicians in the world learned their trade by performing in venues in Dublin city. These are the places that you will be able to visit in Dublin, enjoy a show and relax and get a pint too.

Most of these places should have no cover charge for the normal bar, though they may have an entrance fee for the performance area, or later in the evening when the venue becomes a club. If there is a fee, I will mention it in the guide.

The Workman’s Club

If you are brave enough to venture just outside of the Templebar district, you will find this beautiful building right along the river Liffey. The Workman’s Club was established in 1888 as a clubhouse for union workers in the city, but it closed in 2003. Having sat vacant for a few years, this beautiful building was plucked from obscurity by none other than Bono and the Edge from U2! In 2010, they decided to re-open the doors and create one of the most popular places to go out in Dublin.

Every night of the week there is something happening in this place. I have gone to countless gigs in the main hall downstairs; from indie performances, EDM nights and Karaoke sing-alongs. The Workman’s Club is one of the best venues in Dublin. Later in the evening, when the music stops, upstairs fills up. The rooftop area is filled every night with young people from all over the city and the WowBurger stand there is something to look at too! The Club is normally free to enter, but you will have to pay to see most of the acts that perform here.

Whelans

This place is a favourite of many musicians

This is probably the most famous bar/ venue in Dublin, if you go here on any given night there will be something happening. The building itself is a sprawling maze, it can be easy to lose yourself here. In one corner you might find a traditional Irish bar, the rooftop beer-garden is open to the sky and whatever Irish weather that might bring, and you might also find various stages, most of which will have some live performances during any given week in the year. Some of these performances will be free, for some you will have to pay for admission at the door and others will be a properly ticketed event and you will have to book ahead like any concert.

I have seen all sorts of performances in this venue, from surprise “comedy duels” with famous (in Ireland) Irish comedians to performances by Lee “Scratch” Perry among many others. This is the place where many famous international performers like to practice their craft. Ed Sheeran famously performed an impromptu and free gig here after his main concert was finished in Dublin back in 2015!

The Grand Social

This is another of my favourite places in Dublin to experience live music. Just last month I saw an all-female Bruce Springsteen cover band called the “She-Street Band” perform here, it was obviously excellent! Live acts also perform here most nights during the week, they tend to be indie performers and acts with more niche appeal, I have usually found the quality of performers here to be quite high. Once the musicians are finished, this place turns into a nightclub. The Grand Social is one of the most popular alternative venues in Dublin and is especially popular among the musicians and artists in the city.

During the day the bar is normally free to enter, but you will have to pay to experience most of the acts that perform here. Also, during busier nights, there may be an admission fee to enter this establishment.

The Button Factory

Located right in the center of the Templebar district of Dublin is this great venue. Though most Irish people regard Templebar as being “too touristy”, The Button Factory feels like its miles away from the crowds of bachelor parties just around the corner. This venue is one of the most famous parts of the cultural side of the area, and when you go there during the day you will be able to experience a little more of that. The Rock and Roll museum is located here and is open during the day. A big part of this museum is going backstage in the Button Factory and seeing what its really like to peek behind the curtain in a famous music venue.

Right around the building you will see murals of Irish musicians giving performances. People like Christie Moore, Phil Lynott and many more are lauded here. You will have to pay an admission fee to enter here. Normally this will be the same as most other clubs in the city (about €10), but if you are there to see a performance, you will have to pay more.

Badbob’s

Badbobs - interior
Badbob’s Bar in Dublin

Another venue in Templebar, this one is a little different to the places previously mentioned. This pub is located in an old Victorian building and has been operating as a pub/ venue for decades. In here you will find locals and tourists milling about and enjoying food and drink during the day. This is a particularly good spot if you are looking for somewhere to watch a sporting event. Every night of the week there will be a live musical performance of some kind, usually in the form of a singer with a guitar (I couldn’t make this list and not include a place like this!). These performers normally play a mix of contemporary music and traditional Irish ballads.

The music will be free to enjoy for all the customers of the pub and unlike other establishments in Templebar, you will not be charged a premium for the musical performance! The prices here will be more or less the same for a pint as most other places in Dublin.

If you are looking to experience a good cross-section of Irish nightlife, I would recommend you go on a pub crawl. There are several in the city that operate every night of the week, bringing people to many different kinds of bars. The one I recommend is linked below, if you click that link it will take you to a booking page, where you can reserve your spot on the crawl, it can fill up pretty quickly on the weekends.

Sessions

Ireland has a musical tradition that stretches back hundreds of years. The places mentioned so far are great for music, but they aren’t particularly traditional. If you are looking for something more uniquely Irish, then you should look for a good session pub!

A traditional Irish music session involves musicians coming together and joining in the performance and adding whatever they can to it. It is incredibly informal. If you go to these pubs, at some point in the evening, people will arrive with their instruments, take up a table and start playing together. Oftentimes they are strangers and you can even join in many of these sessions yourself, if you can play that is!

The Cobblestone

A typical traditional Irish music session

This is arguably the home of traditional Irish music in Dublin. This pub has been mentioned in guidebooks and newspapers from all over the world and if it hasn’t, it should be! It is located right on Smithfield Square, next to the old Jameson Whiskey distillery. This used to be a rough part of town, but in the last couple of decades it has become one of the most desirable parts of Dublin to live in. The Cobblestone is a big part of that.

The pub itself is on the smaller side, so arriving early to guarantee a place to sit down is advisable. If you get here early, find yourself a table, get one of the best pints of Guinness around and enjoy some great, traditional Irish music.

The music is performed here for free every day. Try to arrive around 5pm to beat the crowds.

O’Neill’s

One of the best pubs in Dublin city

This is my favourite pub in Dublin. Located opposite the statue of Molly Malone, near Grafton Street, this pub is about a hundred years old. The place inside is like Whelan’s, a maze. Over the last century or so, the O’Neill family has gradually been buying up the land around the pub and expanding on it, so the inside can be a little confusing. If you are looking for a place to get food during the day, this is where you should go. The self-service restaurant is one of the best places in Dublin to get traditional Irish food, but this place really comes alive when the music starts.

After about 8pm, musicians will start to perform upstairs. Similarly to Badbobs, this performance will be free to anyone in the pub and will generally be a mix of contemporary and traditional music. What makes O’Neill’s stand out though are the dancers. It can be hard to find good Irish dancing shows in Dublin. Most of them are performed as part of a stage show, but here the dancers will dance around the pub and bring you into the performance. This is as close to the steerage section of the Titanic as I can get you!

Music and dancing is performed here for free every night, if you want to learn more about how to see Irish dancing in Dublin, you can find my guide here.Opens in a new tab.

Darkey Kelly’s

Located right next to Christchurch Cathederal is one of the best spots in the city to find live, traditional Irish music, Darkey Kellys. This pub is named after the first recorded serial killer in Dublin’s history. Darkey Kelly was an infamous woman who owned a brothel on the site that is now occupied by the pub. Men who didn’t pay up or abused the girly mysteriously went missing for years and she was discovered during the murder of the 6th man in 1767, she was executed shortly after. You might even see her ghost, which supposedly still haunts this part of the city!

Though you might not find Darkey’s ghost if you come here, you will find one of the best traditional pubs in Dublin, popular among locals and tourists. The food here during the day is excellent. There are musical performances most evenings that start at about 7pm. If you want to see the musical session, they are start during the afternoon most Sundays. All the performances are free to enjoy.

The Stag’s Head

This is another of Dublin’s most famous pubs. Located in the popular Dame Lane, if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists in Templebar, head here and find crowds of locals! This pub is great during the day and has some of the best Guinness to be found in Dublin, but there are also great live performances that are put on here regularly. Every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday there will be a free comedy night held downstairs and on Tuesday evenings a Ukulele night takes place on the top floor, this is also free. During the week there will be live performances of traditional and contemporary Irish music throughout the bar and it is usually free for you to enjoy!

O’Donoghues

Located on Merrion Row, this 250+ year old establishment is famous as where the original boy-band was founded, the Dubliners. Since the 1960’s this place has played host to countless music sessions. The smoking area of this pub is outside and forms a sort of alleyway between the two-inner part of the establishment. Every Sunday afternoon from about 2pm, there will be a music session there that is free for you to enjoy. During the week, the session moves indoors to the front part of the older bar. This is also free for you to enjoy.

Because of how good this place is and its location, in one of the nicer parts of the city, this pub has become a well-known haunt for Irish celebrities. Keep on the lookout for a few while here!

Jack

Jack Redmond has been a tour guide in Ireland for the past decade. Having received a national guiding qualification, he has brought thousands of travelers all over the island of Ireland.

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