The Church – Traditional Irish Music and Dancers (August 18, 2022)
My wife and I arrived at the Jameson Distillery in Dublin shortly before closing time. The bartender whipped up some whiskey cocktails quick enough that we could each try two before last call.
Unfortunately, our time at Jameson was limited, it was time to go. The bartender recommended another bar called “1661” which was named after an Irish spirit called Poitín. We wandered the streets of Dublin looking for it, but we got lost. This post isn’t really about Jameson or 1661 though, it’s about the wonderful musical venue we found instead called “The Church Café & Late Bar”.
The Church was built in the 1600s. It was an operating Catholic church that has since been resurrected a bar and restaurant. The pews have been removed and in their place is a stunning copper cocktail bar. The pipe organ and stained glass remain, making this an especially beautiful place to grab a pint of Guinness.
We lucky enough to stumble in on a night with live Irish music. The band occasionally interspersed rock standards with traditional Irish music.
About every fifth or sixth song the band was joined by Irish dancers. Each time they did, the crowd would rush toward the front to get a better view. I assume this meant it was mostly tourists, hoping to catch a glimpse of the lower bodies of the dancers. (Some people believe that Irish dance was created to be camouflaged from the waste up so that British soldiers couldn’t tell the Irish were dancing through a window.)
Keep your eyes open during that periodic rush to the stage, you might be able to grab a stool at the bar even on a crowded night.
We eventually found our way to 1661, which was every bit as delightful and unique as our bartender at Jameson said. I enjoyed my cocktail, although I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to fill the bar at home with Poitín. However, the cheeseboard and romantic ambience were both notable.
Galway Bay Brewing – Musical Conversations with Dubliners (August 26, 2022)
Later in our trip, we dropped into the Galway Bay Brewery after dinner with friends of the family for a few pints of their many craft beers on tap. There wasn’t a band playing that night, although a solo Polish traveler tried to convince us that there was.
Despite the lack of live music, I had a wonderful conversation with one of men in our dinner party about our favorite music, and of course his favorite Irish music. We discussed many of his favorite bands, and I’m not sure it would be of interest to list them all here, but he notably proclaimed “Thin Lizzy is yer God now!” I’m not sure about that, but I appreciate his enthusiasm and his recommendations.
Dublin Street Music (August 27, 2022)
Like most large cities, the buskers are plentiful. You can look forward to hearing traditional Irish tunes on many of the bustling street corners.
We were pleasantly surprised when we stumbled onto a small parade. I’m not certain, but I believe this may have been the An Garda Síochána National Centenary Commemorative Event.
It was simple and solemn, and we were lucky to witness it.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery Tour – Pep Rally Style Marching Band (August 27, 2022)
One of the must-see attractions in Dublin is the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Dublin, even if you’re not a beer drinker. Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease on the facilities hundreds of years ago and it’s still there and still growing. He was clearly a man with confidence in his brewing ability and it shows.
My wife and I took a self-guided tour of this seven-story structure which included a guided tasting, a Guinness with our faces lasered into the foam, and a Guinness IPA in the Gravity Bar which has spectacular views of the city.
Amongst the many displays we found the Guinness Harp that is featured cans and bottles around the world. There also was a laser harp that you can play if you can find a chance when the children aren’t busy enjoying it.
Periodically, a small marching band erupt through the lobby doors near the gift shop. We first heard this when we were on level 5, but unfortunately, we could not see them from there. Luckily, they returned while we were shopping for souvenirs on the way out. This time I had a front row view of the monstrous five-piece band.
The Porterhouse – Modern Adaptations of Traditional Irish Music (August 27, 2022)
My wife and I spent our last night strolling along the Liffey River in Dublin.
Eventually we wanted into the Porterhouse Restaurant for a steak. It was a traditional Irish pub with ornate woodwork, except it had several levels with railing that allows visitors to look down upon the levels below- this includes an aerial view of the stage.
The drinks menu was notable with many craft brews. This was unusual compared many of the other pubs we visited during our stay which usually had just Guinness, Moretti and Heineken. I had a lovely stout that was called the “Plain Porter.” I’m not sure why they called it a porter, but I will say that I think rivals Guinness in both flavor and smoothness.
The service was friendly and enthusiastic, and we enjoyed our meal, however, the highlight was the music. There was a two-piece band, guitar, vocals, and tin whistle with occasional pipes. The guitar work is a little jazzy and funky which adds a lot of energy to the traditional rollicking Irish tin whistle melodies. Be sure to check out the clips below.
We were only in Dublin for a very short time, but we found many opportunities to experience Irish music without much effort. Of course, there are plenty of other opportunities like Dublin Symphony Orchestra but unfortunately, you’ll have to read elsewhere for info on that. Perhaps I will visit again and amend this post in the future.