Ireland’s top music venues
Ireland’s top music venues

Whether it’s the magnificence of Croke Park, or the intimacy of De Barras in Co Cork, Ireland is home to some of the very finest music venues.

This August IrishCentral is holding a celebration of all things Irish language and Irish music! We’ve already visited Milwaukee Irish Fest and hosted our own Pop-Up Gaeltacht but this weekend, we’re bringing you some of Irelands best musical venues.

LISTEN: A spine-tingling tribute to The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan


Located at North Wall Quay in the Dublin Docklands, the 3Arena has become the capitals flagship music venue since it opened in late 2008 and was built on the site 
of the former Point Theatre, a smaller music venue which operated from 1988 to 2007.

In 2012 it rose to the fourth-busiest music arena in the world with the likes of Maria Carey, U2, Britney Spear, The Script as well as metal favorites Rammstein and Slipknot all appearing at the venue.


3Arena. Image: Wikipedia

Croke Park

The Gaelic Athletic Association’s (GAA) headquarters was first used as a concert venue in 1985 when local band U2 hit the stage as part of their Unforgettable Fire Tour.

Since then the 82,000+ capacity stadium has seen the worlds biggest stars perform including Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Elton John, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Coldplay, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and One Direction.

U2's 360° Tour at Croke Park in 2009. Image: Wikipedia 15Gallery

U2’s 360° Tour at Croke Park in 2009. Image: Wikipedia

The Olympia Theatre

First opened in 1879 as Dan Lowrey’s Star of Erin Music Hall,” this iconic music venue became The Olympia Theatre in 1923 hosting many big names over its formative years, including Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Harry Lauder.

In the modern era, its the exquisite ornate Victorian roof, beautifully sculpted walls and rich red seats have hosted the Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Florence & The Machine and Foo Fighters. 

Stormzy performs to a sell-out crowd on the opening night of his UK tour promoting his "Gang Signs and Prayer" album at the Olympia Theatre. Image: Getty15Gallery

Stormzy performs to a sell-out crowd on the opening night of his UK tour promoting his “Gang Signs and Prayer” album at the Olympia Theatre. Image: Getty

For the more traditionalist venues, The famous cobbled streets of Temple Bar are always awash with Irish musicians either inside the bustling pubs or buskers on the streets, Temple Bar is your go-to place to fully experience Irish music in the nation’s capital.

Temple Bar. Image: Getty15Gallery

Temple Bar. Image: Getty

A stone’s throw away back along the River Liffey you’ll find Darkey Kelly’s next to Christ Church Cathedral, fully equipped with a spacious dance floor for you to try some Irish jigs.

Hop across the Liffey to Dublin 7 and you’ll find a “music pub with a drinking problem,”  The Cobblestone.

Further eastwards is The Celt on Dublin 1 which has Irish traditional music seven nights a week or right around the corner there’s The Confession Box, voted the best bar in Dublin 2017 by 98fm listeners.

Belfast – Northern Ireland 
Ulster Hall

The Ulster Hall has been the pulse of Belfast’s live entertainment scene for over 150 years.

First opened in 1862, the “Grand Dame of Bedford Street,” as it is affectionately known, is one of the oldest purpose-built concert halls in the UK and Ireland. This grand Victorian building has survived two World Wars and welcomed names as famous and diverse as Charles Dickens and Snow Patrol.

Since the Sixties, the Ulster Hall has been Northern Ireland’s spiritual home of rock music, hosting an almost endless list of famous names that has included U2, Coldplay, Thin Lizzy, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, The Who, AC/DC and many more.

In fact, Led Zeppelin played their classic Stairway to Heaven for the first time ever at The Ulster Hall.

Ulster Hall. Image: Wikipedia15Gallery

Ulster Hall. Image: Wikipedia

Waterfront Hall

Waterfront Hall, is a $39 million multi-purpose conference and entertainment center built-in 1997 which caters not only for music but sport, theatre, and family-friendly shows.

Waterfront Hall. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Waterfront Hall. Image: Facebook


With names like Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Jeff Buckley, Manic Street Preachers, Slayer, Primal Scream, Two Door Cinema Club, Steve Aoki, The Darkness and Disclosure all plying their trade here, the Limelight has established itself as one of Belfast’s top music destinations.

Split into four spaces – Limelight 1 (rebuilt in 2012 with state of the art lighting and sound), the original venue now called Limelight 2, Katy’s Bar and The Rock Garden draws crowds to catch the best names in Indie, hip hop, disco and punk. 

Limelight. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Limelight. Image: Facebook

The Belfast Empire

The Music Hall at “The Empire,” packs nearly 500 eager fans to hear the best local acts, new up-and-coming bands and cover bands such as the UK Guns & Roses and The Bon Jovi Experience. The stylishly designed downstairs bar hosts bands every night at the Queens Quarter venue.

The Belfast Empire. Image: Facebook15Gallery

The Belfast Empire. Image: Facebook

Pairc Ui Chaoimh

The home of Cork GAA, was revamped in 2018 to the tune of $121 million (€100 million), and its first music act was the sold-out three-gig performance by Ed Sheeran.

LISTEN: Ed Sheeran covers The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York

In 1988, Michael Jackson performed at old the stadium twice as part of his Bad World Tour to a combined attendance in excess of 130,000 and it was also the venue for Prince’s first-ever Irish concert in 1990, as part of his Nude Tour.

U2 played the final show on the European leg of The Joshua Tree Tour at the in 1987 and played again at the stadium in 1993 on their ZooTv Tour.

Other artists to grace the venue include Ash, The Stone Roses, Paul Weller, Kylie Minogue, Oasis, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as well as Rod Stewart earlier this year.

WATCH: Rod Stewart performs rousing rendition of Irish rebel ballad in Cork

Cork Opera House

Dating back to 1855, Cork Opera House has a rich tradition amongst Corkonians having survived the Burning of Cork in 1920, only to be destroyed by fire in 1955.

Following renovations in 2003, today the1000-seat municipal theatre offers audiences a world-class program of events across the performing arts: concerts, comedy, drama, musicals, contemporary and classical dance, family shows, the annual Christmas pantomime, and, opera. In addition to the main stage, the 100-seat Half Moon Theatre is home to a busy program of live music gigs and small scale drama.

Image: Flickr - William Murphy15Gallery

Image: Flickr – William Murphy

Crane Lane Theatre 

Located in the remains of an old Gentleman’s Club in the dead center of Cork City, The Crane Lane has been a Rebel favorite for over 100 years. With its beautiful decor from the 20s, 30s and 40s, theatre performances, burlesque nights, swing, blues, jazz, country, live music and DJ’s are what you can expect here seven nights a week in this very intimate venue. 

Crane Lane Theatre. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Crane Lane Theatre. Image: Facebook

De Barras Folk Club 

The seaside town of Clonakilty is the scene of a real Cork gem in the form of De Barras Folk Club. 

Flutes, fiddles, bodhráns, pipes and mandolins paint the walls of this famed venue and top performers like Jack L, Sharron Shanon and John Spillane are regular performers here. 

“There’s Carnegie Hall, The Royal Albert, Sydney Opera House and then there’s De Barra’s,” declared Irish music legend Christy Moore!

Image: De Barra's Facebook15Gallery

Image: De Barra’s Facebook

Dolan’s Warehouse

Situated on the Docks in Limerick City, this famous live music venue is home to the best of best indie, metal and dance club nights.

A host of international, national and local musicians, singers artists and actors have graced these stages including Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Kasabian, The Darkness, Bob Geldof, Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey, Christy Moore, and Ian Brown. 

The Warehouse is part of Dolan’s award-winning traditional Irish pub located on the Dock Road which also includes Upstairs at Dolans and the Kasbah Social Club.

Dolan’s host Irish traditional music performances seven nights a week.

Dolan's Warehouse. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Dolan’s Warehouse. Image: Facebook

Live At The Castle in King John’s Castle

King John’s Castle is a 13th-century castle located on King’s Ireland in Limerick, next to the River Shannon although the site dates back to 922 when the Vikings lived on the Island, the castle itself was built on the orders of King John in 1200.

Live At The Castle in King John’s Castle is Limericks newest live music concert venue which kicked off with The Coronas sold-out performance on 30th April 2016. Since then the venue has played host to the like of Imelda May and Bell X1.

Live at the Castle, King John's Castle. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Live at the Castle, King John’s Castle. Image: Facebook

Live At The Big Top

Set in Limerick’s iconic milk market, Live At The Big Top transforms a working market into an open-air festival in the heart of the city.

It has been home to many national and international acts, hosting Nile Rodgers and Chic, The Waterboys, Rodrigo y Gabriela, The Coronas, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbot,  Imelda May, Calvin Harris, Horslips, Little Green Cars, Cathy Davey, Hermitage Green, Villagers, Kasabian, The Riptide Movement, Josh Ritter, Bressie, Leading Armies, The Saw Doctors, Sharon Shannon & Nathan Carter.

Róisín Dubh – Galway City

Róisín Dubh has established itself as a superb venue for both music and comedy bringing established talent to the city, while also providing a stage for emerging artists.

With a great atmosphere, wonderful staff, it’s one of the best places to see the best national and international acts around.

Róisín Dubh. Image: Facebook15Gallery

Róisín Dubh. Image: Facebook

INEC Arena – Killarney Co Kerry

The INEC (Ireland’s National Events Centre) Killarney plays host to major events including, Live at The Gleneagle, bringing the best of music and dance acts to the venue.

Willie Nelson, Cliff Richard, The Script, Snow Patrol, Bob Geldof, Hozier, Kenny Rogers, José Carreras, and Christy Moore are just some of the names to perform here.

This August, we’re celebrating Gaeilge (the Irish language) and Irish music with a series highlighting those around the world speaking and learning Irish, and playing Irish music. Visit our dedicated music section here or our Irish language section here to read more.

You can follow throughout the month by using the hashtags #ICMusic, #ICGaeilge or by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or LinkedIn.

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What’s your favorite Irish music venue? Let us know in the comments below.