NIGHTLIFE IN IRELAND: Your guide to the best traditional tunes, experiences and bars

SURE, they're well known for having a rich history and enchanting folklore, but what the locals of Ireland should also be known for is their reputation for hospitality and the warm welcome you'll receive no matter where you go, day or night.

SURE, they’re well known for having a rich history and enchanting folklore, but what the locals of Ireland should also be known for is their reputation for hospitality and the warm welcome you’ll receive no matter where you go, day or night.

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And while sitting in a classic Irish pub that’s been serving brews for centuries, enjoying a perfectly poured glass of Guinness, is something every traveller should try it’s far from the only option.

From Cobh to Coleraine venues big and small will be buzzing with good conversation, hearty laughter, and jovial tunes before the day’s end, the options only limited by a traveller’s endurance.

Here are just four ways to become immersed in Ireland’s quirky nightlife scene.

 

TOES TAP TO TRADITIONAL TUNES

Remember the scene in Titanic when Leo’s Jack takes Kate’s Rose to a below-decks blowout and they jig to the rollicking sounds of an ensemble playing fiddles, flutes, accordions and hand drums?

That’s trad music – or traditional Irish music – and the notes echoing from steerage on the Titanic are the daily soundtrack in Ireland with locals joking that exuberant melodies and pubs are a match made in heaven.

For travellers stopping in Dublin there’s The Auld Dubliner, Devitt’s, O’Shea’s Merchant, O’Donoghue’s, The Brazen Head, The Cobblestone, Mother Reilly’s, and The Celt or venture just out of town to Johnnie Fox’s in nearby Glencullen for a more rural experience.

Those in Belfast on a Tuesday or Sunday should visit The John Hewitt Bar, in Cork An Spailpin Fanach is the destination, and Clancy’s of Athy in Country Kildare hosts Ireland’s longest running trad-music session.

 

MOVE WITH THE MODERN

While trad music always gets the toes tapping the locals aren’t opposed to “modern tunes’’ with a swag of spots around Ireland hosting artists playing songs that sit comfortably on jazz, funk, rock and pop playlists.

Try The Belfast Empire Music Hall, Galway’s Roisin Dubh, Connolly’s Of Leap in Cork, and Dolan’s in Limerick while there are many more options – Olympia Theatre, Whelan’s, The Sugar Club, The Bowery, Vicar Street, The Grand Social – in big-smoke Dublin.

For something rare head to Ballina in County Mayo during September when Other Voices – the music festival held in towns along the Wild Atlantic Way – hits town and the walls of St Michael’s Church “shake, rattle and roll’’ to the notes of Irish and international artists for just two nights.

 

FROCK UP FOR THE FANCY

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Ireland’s crop of upmarket bars call travellers lugging swanky going-out clothes in their suitcase with The Ivy Dawson Street in Dublin the latest addition to the Emerald Isle’s register of fancy watering holes.

Guests at Mayo’s luxurious Ashford Castle feel like 19th-century aristocrats in the regal bar, The G Hotel gives Galway visitors an excuse to frock up, and The Merchant Hotel in Belfast channels vintage Hollywood glamour with some very classy cocktails.

 

LINGER WITH LITERARY LINKS

When it comes to authors, Ireland has produced more than its fair share of literary legends – or, as the locals put it, Ireland’s been “crawling with poets, playwrights and novelists for centuries’’ – with all that wordsmithing thirsty work.

As a result there are dozens of pubs around the provinces with strong literary links and many more addresses in Dublin which seems to be the top spot for inspiring stories.

Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift made The Brazen Head his local, Davy Byrne’s features in James Joyce’s Ulysses, Brendan Behan penned The Borstal Boy between holding court in Neary’s, Bram Stoker and WB Yates tippled at Toner’s, and writers frequented the Palace Bar since 1843 with a brass plaque outside naming the famous faces.

 

Regardless of whether you are visiting day and night, there’s always something to see and do in Ireland. No matter where you go, the locals will greet you with a warm welcome along the way.

Discover more about Ireland at ireland.com

Written Sarah Nicholson, KARRYON contributor

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