A real Dublin pub is not something that can be copied, so no matter where in the world you’ve seen an Irish pub, get ready for the real thing. There are hundreds of great traditional Irish pubs throughout Dublin and many of them will host traditional Irish music sessions.
Some of these are completely unplanned and music will just break out without warning when two or more musicians meet each other. The rest of the night is history. If you’re looking for more modern bars we’ve got a list of the best of them. But here are our favourite genuine, old, Irish pubs where you’ll find live traditional Irish music:
Home of The Dubliners, O’Donoghues is perhaps the greatest, traditional Irish pub in Dublin. Always busy, especially when Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners would come and play, for free, with other local musicians as they sat around the fire with tables full of black and white pints. Put this on your list.
2. Doheny & Nesbitts
Just up the road from O’Donoghues you’ll find Doheny & Nesbitts, another completely unique pub. You won’t see anything like it anywhere else in the world – it’s one of the oldest family owned pubs in the city. Inside you’ll discover lots of polished brass and dark wood, two snugs, a function room and a great menu of wholesome Irish food.
O’Neills is slap bang between Grafton Street and Temple Bar, Trinity College and the Molly Malone statue – perfect for any pub crawl. They’ve got traditional Irish music sessions but also Irish dancing, jigs, reels and all sorts of mischief and fun. The food is pretty excellent too.
4. The Hairy Lemon
Where on earth did they get that name? Glad you asked: The Hairy Lemon was named after one of the city’s great characters – a dog catcher in the 1950s. The pub itself is a bit of a rabbit warren but there’s usually a traditional Irish music session on in here somewhere – you just have to follow your ears.
John Kehoe’s always looks the same – it never changes. Ever. That means it’s completely authentic, unspoilt and brimming with atmosphere and tradition. A trad session here is usually small but absolutely fantastic.
The Oliver St John Gogarty, or just Gogarty’s, is in Temple Bar and has live Irish music and ballads every single day of the week, all afternoon and into the night. That’s upstairs. Downstairs, other sessions can spark up at any time.
7. The Cobblestone
This is arguably the best pub in Dublin for live traditional Irish music sessions. The Cobblestone is in Smithfield, near the Jameson Distillery and across the river from Guinness’s. The owner has made sure he has the best musicians in the city and you’ll be impressed every night of the week and all afternoon at the weekends.
If you are looking for the real deal – live traditional Irish music in a real Dublin pub – then you’re spoilt for choice. Pick any of the seven pubs above and you’re in for a real treat. We promise.