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Alternative to Dingle closer to Dublin?

My husband and I will be in Ireland in June both before and after a cruise to Iceland. Before the cruise we'll have about a day and a half in Dublin; afterwards, we're staying for 3 more days and planned to rent a car (I've driven in Ireland before, so I know what to expect). We are flying in and out of Dublin; I can't do anything to change that.

He is not particularly interested in castles, churches, museums, or history; I travel in Europe without him most of the time for that reason. But he enjoys wandering in interesting towns and seeing dramatic scenery. I also expect him to enjoy trad music sessions, because he's an amateur folk musician. Of course there will be music in the pubs in Dublin, but in my past experience, the sessions are more authentic and more fun outside Dublin.

If we had more time, I'd take him to Dingle, but given our short time that's pretty far. Is there any small-to-medium town closer to Dublin that's fun to explore on foot and offers a good supply of live music, even on weeknights? (We'll be there Monday through Wednesday nights.) I thought of Kilkenny, but I wasn't sure if we could count on finding sessions outside of weekend nights.

Or would Galway make sense as a compromise? It's not exactly what I have in mind, but there are lots of interesting small towns nearby, and they'd have music in the evenings.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Posted by
691 posts

Kilkenny seemed to roll up the sidewalks on the midweek day when we were there in September. Here's a suggestion: Drive to Portrush (about 3-4 hours), overnight Portrush and hope to catch music as it's a touristy town. Next day, take in the Giant's Causeway and meander along the spectacular scenery of the Antrim Coast to Belfast. Spend two nights in Belfast. Consider taking the Belfast Traditional Music Trail tour ( We loved this "tour" as two real musicians introduce and play the traditional instruments; the tour is more about Irish music and instruments than the pub scene. It's easy to discuss and ask questions of the musicians, especially when you're in the former recording studio. You end up at another pub and an Irish dancer joins the group and she helps volunteers learn some dancing. I'd think your hubbs would love it. The next day, try to take a Black Cab tour of the "troubles" areas. We hooked up with one at the Visitor's Center downtown and loved learning more about the history of these troubles. We decided to skip the Titanic Museum, but it could be something you'd enjoy. Depending on your flight time, you could easily drive from Belfast. Hope this gives you something to consider.

Posted by
292 posts

Interesting idea! The cruise ship stops in Belfast on its way to Iceland, but this plan could still work, as there's more to do in that area than we'd be able to accomplish in one day.

Posted by
1829 posts

Our favorite music happened to be in Dingle and Clifden. Clifden is a bit closer, but still not really very close to Dublin.

We had amazing music in Clifden!! (it was a Thursday night in August) There were about 12 musicians that came together to play, not knowing one another. Then, mid evening one guy danced during the jam session. So very cool!

BTW, our favorite B & B of our whole trip was there, too. And, beautiful scenery!