What does Ireland have to offer? Oh, believe us — everything! The stunning sweeping vistas will take your breath away, and the people will charm you with their hospitality and selfless kindness. And the music! Oh, the traditional Celtic music will put a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye with just a few notes.
When an Irish person invites you “for a pint,” that’s not just a night out — that’s an experience. There are many countries in the world with the nightlife that will leave you with some pretty memorable evenings. However, none of them beat Ireland when it comes to having a blast.
Sharing a pint with the locals is part of the typical “Irish pub concept”.
There’s a good reason why practically every capital in the world has an Irish pub. However, none of them can really replicate the real thing. Traditional Irish pubs with live Celtic music have the age and experience on their side, and they all have that pure, homey feel that can’t be falsely generated.
Everyone knows each other’s name and the entire atmosphere is friendly and uplifting. Even for newcomers — traditional Irish bars feel like home. The decor is also lovely. Short ceilings with exposed beams heighten the feeling of snugness and a comfortable atmosphere.
On top of that, a cold pint of Guinness goes so much better with live Celtic music. No one can do it like the Irish can!
When you hear the term “Celtic music,” you’re probably imagining jolly Irish men and women playing the fiddle and the violin. That’s not that far from the truth. Still, Celtic music is so much more than that. Celtic music is also known as Irish music and is expressed as the music of Ireland due to its Celts’ influence and musical heritage. It speaks directly to your soul and brings you to your feet. So don’t be surprised if you spontaneously try to Riverdance sometime during the night.
While every Irish pub has something unique to offer, you can’t visit them all. Therefore, here are the seven best pubs for traditional Celtic music in Ireland.
The Cobblestone, Dublin
If you’re looking for an authentic, traditional experience — The Cobblestone should be your first stop. What’s more, you can pop in any day of the week. The usual opening hours start from 5 pm to midnight. Every day, the best musicians in Dublin and entire Ireland gather around the small, wooden tables of The Cobblestone and make musical history happen before your very eyes.
The main reason why The Cobblestone tops any list of the best pubs with traditional Celtic music is that the musicians and the staff do not put on a show. They play from their hearts and captivate the audience with simple, acoustic tunes reminiscent of the olden days of Ireland.
Celtic music keeps the history alive, and the musicians who gather at The Cobblestone are the keepers of the gates. They will make sure that this crucial gem of Irish culture is never forgotten. If you spend just one night in this bar, you’ll always remember it.
The Cobblestone might not look like much from the outside, but you’ll get the real deal once you find a spot inside. The wooden floors have seen many feet dance the night away in this bar.
Situated in the heart of the Stoneybatter district, The Cobblestone offers a plethora of different tunes and live gigs, from real cèilidh, social gatherings with singing and dancing, to sean-nós singing — you’ll hear it all here. Moreover, this convivial pub is very popular, so expect a big crowd on any given day.
The best thing about The Cobblestone is that it’s not pretentious. A pint won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and there’s no entrance fee.
De Barra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty
De Barra’s Folk Club has over eighty years of experience in the business. What’s more, they were one of the most popular venues for live music sessions in the eighties and the nineties. This location opens from 10 am to 12:30 am.
Noel Redding, the former bassist of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, put this bar on the map. And, it has stayed there ever since.
The ambiance is almost indescribable. With antique instruments hanging on the walls and tidbits from the past adorning every free surface, you might think the De Barra’s looks crowded. However, the pictures of famous musicians who entertained the crowds and created history in this very bar form a vibrant, almost overwhelming atmosphere.
Providing a look in both the old days, with fiddles and bodhráns on the walls, and in the present, De Barra’s is the perfect choice for a night of traditional Celtic music, should you find yourself in Clonakilty on a Monday or Tuesday.
The intimate atmosphere and huge names from the music industry who are patrons of this bar will blow you away. Traditional Irish sessions are free, while some other events, like gigs by famous Irish bands such as “The 4 of Us” have a 10-20 euro admission fee.
The Crane Bar, Galway
If you’re looking for a decent pint and some Celtic music to fill your ears in Galway, look no further than the Crane Bar. Musicians gather in this Irish music motherhouse to play and enjoy their craft together. The sight and sound of an impromptu performance will surely bring you to your feet.
What’s more, you’ll even have room to dance. Not many pubs in Ireland can offer both — great traditional Celtic music and enough space for a céilí dance. However, the Crane Bar can!
The outside of this two-story pub is almost as charming as the inside — painted in traditional Irish green; it will draw you in at first glance. And the best thing is — on the second floor, they hold live traditional Irish music sessions on full blast every night in the intimate and relaxed space.
The pub can hold between fifty and seventy people, but you’ll find many more on an average Saturday night. However, the lively atmosphere and the friendly crowd always ready for a sing-along will make it worth your while.
For almost a century, the O’Donoghue’s pub has been keeping the history alive on the Merrion Row in the heart of Dublin. Home of the famous Dubliners, O’Donoghue’s is one of the oldest pubs with live Celtic music in Ireland, and they play it seven nights a week.
Because they have such a rich history, the bartenders and the patrons of the O’Donoghue’s try their hardest to keep the atmosphere lively and their guests happy. That’s why you’ll never feel like an outsider in this pub. Even newcomers and first-time visitors are welcomed like old friends in the O’Donoghue’s.
For the most authentic experience, aim to visit this trendy pub on a Sunday afternoon as it is almost too crowded on Friday night.
A pub that warranted a poem by Andy Irvine will have you dancing all night without breaking your budget. O’Donoghue’s has moderate prices and a wide selection of beers, ales, whiskeys, and even a smoking area in the garden.
If you ask a local in Killarney where to go to have a pint with some live, traditional Celtic music, all of them will tell you — Buckley’s Bar. On the weekends, this pub becomes the central hub for Celtic music enthusiasts, no matter if they’re musicians or just listeners.
Buckley’s brings the best of both worlds — the traditional and the modern. Forgoing the old-time wooden chairs for cushy bench seats, while still maintaining that time-honored Irish pub look with oak-lined walls, this bar feels like home.
The Buckley’s Bar was established in 1926 with the love of Celtic music in mind. It’s a fan-favorite when it comes to the locals, and you’ll love the homey feel and the friendly atmosphere.
The best nights are usually the unplanned ones. If you’re lucky, you might run into an impromptu music session. If you do, feel free to join in, as patrons love nothing more than Celtic music enthusiasts.
Maddens Bar, Belfast
If you’re looking for something not every tourist will consider a “must see,” then Maddens is the right choice for you. It’s honestly a hidden gem, and not everyone knows about it due to being obscured by the Castle Court Shopping Mall. However, if you ask the locals in Belfast — Maddens is the place to be. Its operating time starts from 11:30 am to 1 am.
Maddens Bar will draw you in straight away with its enormous mural that covers the entire pub’s side and the inviting, traditional emerald color of the facade. What’s more, the tables outside will usually be filled with smiling patrons and jolly locals.
Maddens is usually the hotspot for live Irish music, and you can hear traditional tunes on any given day. However, that doesn’t mean that this pub doesn’t go with the times. It’s been a formal or improvised stage for many renowned musicians, like Ed Sheeran, who has held an intimate concert in this very pub.
Still, the main attraction in Maddens is traditional folk music. Moreover, this pub is less polished than some more well-known spots, and a bit grimier. However, that only heightens that real Irish pub-feel.
On cold autumn and winter nights, with sweet, melodic music sessions in full swing, you can snuggle next to the original fireplace and enjoy the sounds of fiddles, flutes, and mandolines.
Last but not least is one of the most famous Dublin spots. If you’re looking for the best pubs for Trad in Ireland, Hughes should be your top choice. It’s more of a place for serious musicians that play for themselves rather than for a crowd. The way of playing and the atmosphere in Hughes are different than anywhere else — more traditional and somber, rather than folksy and overly cheery.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let the music get you on your feet. There’s plenty of space around for a traditional cèilidh. Therefore, you can dance your night away, or just quietly enjoy the sounds of flutes while sipping on your pint.
And don’t worry about drinking a lot. The in-house Guinness pints were the cheapest in Dublin.
There’s no judgment at Hughes — everyone is welcome for a drink, a sing-along, or a dance.