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Best Irish Music?

My husband and I and our one year old are planning our trip to Ireland in February (dates not flexible unfortunately) and we have two questions.

  1. Where in Ireland has the best Irish pub music? I absolutely love Irish music and want to make sure I'm able to see/hear the best.

  2. Considering we have a one year old, any tips? You might say we're brave to travel from the US to Ireland with a baby that young, but really, I think we might just be naive. We'll see how it goes. Any kid/toddler friendly places that you recommend?

Thank you!

Posted by
1878 posts

I think Rick recommends Doolin for Irish music, but the only two times I passed through there (in 2002 and 2016) the weather made it not a place I wanted to be, very gusty winds and horizontal rain.

Ennis was great for music in 2002, and pretty good in 2016 as well. Try Cruise's Pub.

Dingle I found has quasi-Irish pop music, I did not find the couple of places I ducked into to have authentic bands. That said, I think it can be hit or miss most places.

I had a really good experience in Kilkenny where we saw a band called the Kilkennys. They are more traditional music inflected than real hardcore trad music, but they were really good. The venue was Matt the Millers.

Posted by
12372 posts

The best pub music, IMHO, is whatever is going on where you happen to be. The more spontaneous, the better. I believe the West Coast (Galway) is more known for this, but we happened across great music experiences in Dublin and Dingle (there it was a single singer, not a band, but he just happened to sing my favorite song). But if your goal is to see “the best”, perhaps look into concerts rather than pubs.

As for taking a young child, I will say that my son and his wife took their first-born to Ireland when he was a wee boy of 8 months. They had a wonderful time and the baby opened up many wonderful experiences to them. Including one session in a pub of the baby in a front pack attached to his dad, dancing. They found most places to be baby-friendly.

Posted by
1160 posts

And it may take a bit more “looking” to find the music in pubs since it will be off season. You may have more luck in slightly larger places than small towns that see far less business during the winter. And don’t feel like a concert or a show is not the way to go just because it doesn’t seem spontaneous.

Posted by
234 posts

We heard some great music in Westport at Matt Malloy's, as well as pubs in Kinsale and Bunbeg (the names escape me at the moment). Keep in mind though that pub music often doesn't start until 9pm or later, and the venues aren't necessarily infant friendly. We did find some early sessions in Dingle but I believe they were only on Sunday.

Posted by
1801 posts

We stayed in 7 different towns on our Irish trip this last summer. We found the best way to find music is to walk and pop your head into different pubs and see whats going on. There was music everywhere, but the best were the jam sessions where the musicians didn't even know each other. One would start to play and others would join in. It might has been a coincidence, but we found better jam sessions in pubs that did not serve food. Most pubs/restaurants had music but you could tell they were hired to be there to play for the tourists.

Posted by
428 posts

We had great music everywhere we went. For us the best sessions were the open mic sessions where there were planned musicians, but several guests that were either local or from "away" joined them. One of those sessions was in Dalton's Bar in Kinsale - a magical Monday evening of locals who played and sang. The other place that we have fond memories is in Dingle at Neligan's Bar. They have great music most nights, but we had the most fun at the open mic evenings. Music started at 9, so not sure how that would work with a young one.

Posted by
1198 posts

Dingle has the best Irish music and is closer to Shannon Airport than Dublin. You'll need a car to get there and if you go, be sure to drive its peninsula.

Posted by
305 posts

Agree with Susan. However, my definition of "Best" is Traditional acoustic music. Also, know that there are different groups playing at the Pubs each night, and the music often begins at 9:00 p.m.
On our Best of Ireland Tour last year, our favorite music session was in Kinsale at Dalton's on a Tuesday night. The group played and sang for 3 hours. There were several Americans who traveled to Ireland with music instruments just to join in local sessions and played with the group at Dalton's. It is not a large Pub and does not serve food. I'm not sure how much your year old baby would appreciate the crowded and noisy Pubs.

Posted by
11 posts

Log on to thesession.org. - this is an Irish traditional music website which lists traditional music sessions all over the world - there are loads of sessions all over Ireland, and this website will tell you where and what time - most of these will be ‘sessions ‘ rather than bands performing, I.e. more spontaneous, and different each time according to which musicians turn up - fiddles, flutes, tin whistles etc.