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Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

Marlton, New Jersey
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Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

I would really like to see Irish dancing while I am in Ireland because I LOVE Irish dancing. We will be in Dublin on Sunday night. I know that I have seen Cobblestone recommended for Irish music and Palace Bar. I was going to try to do both in one night. I thought about Abbey Tavern or Merry Ploughboy which has both, but I am not sure if they are authentic and also I know that they are far out. Is it possible to go to both the Arlington Hotel dancing show at 8:30pm and then also go to Cobblestone and see a session? I don't know if you have to have the dinner to see the Arlington shoe. Also I also see Oliver St. John Gagarity is recommended. Please let me know what you think and also how transportation would work if we are staying at Maldron Cardiff Lane. Thank you so much.

Dublin, Ireland
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1. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

Irish dancing displays in Dublin are largely tourist affairs so not authentic in the way we think you mean. We don't know how familiar you are with Irish dance but the traditional stuff done by ordinary people at ceilis and other gatherings has little in common with the "Riverdance" style of dancing, and it's the "Riverdance" style of performance that you'll find in these displays.

Pub sessions are not like concerts so you don't exactly "see a session". The musicians sit in the corner playing and people listen, talk, drink, etc throughout. It's very informal and you just buy your drinks and soak it all up. Sessions usually start around 9pm but it's not an exact science. The Cobblestone (nightly Mon and Tue at 9pm, Wed to Sat at 7pm and on Sunday afternoons, the Palace Bar (Wednesdays and Sundays), O'Donoghues on Merrion Row (nightly) all have good quality free traditional music sessions which are popular with locals as well as visitors. O'Shea's Merchant on the corner of Merchant's Quay and Bridge Street is the only city centre pub where you might see some dancing. They have traditional music sessions nightly, usually with dancing and you may even see some set dancing there (which is far more authentic than the "Riverdance" variety).

These pub sessions can be pretty crowded, usually standing room only and that can also be in short supply! If you want a seat for a session, we'd recommend getting to the pub early. Also the pubs known for their music are not known for their food (and in some cases don't serve any) so a good plan would be to find a nice pub or restaurant to eat in before heading off to any of these pub sessions.

The Arlington, the Merry Ploughboy etc. are all very touristy as are all of these 'Irish cabaret' types of performances (and the Merry Ploughboy is quite a long way out of the city in the outer south city suburbs). The food served is generally mediocre at best and it can be a costly night out (particularly when you take into account that pub trad music sessions are free and you can enjoy them for the price of a few drinks).

Similarly, the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub in Temple Bar and other TB pubs which are overpriced tourist traps where you get to spend the evening with other visitors (locals give them a wide berth, particularly at weekends when they are full day and night with groups of visitors on various drinking trips - not a pretty sight!).

If you do want to take in one of these dinner and show performances, then we'd suggest heading to the Abbey Tavern in Howth which is one of the locations you suggested. Howth is a lovely spot and the Abbey Tavern is a Howth landmark, plus it's probably the only option where the food is likely to be better than just OK (food at the Abbey Tavern gets good write ups). You can also get there and back fairly easily from your hotel by taking the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) train from Pearse Station on Westland Row (about 10 mins walk from your hotel) to Howth (journey time about 30 mins). Trains are frequent and the last train back to the city leaves Howth just before midnight (the evening at the Abbey Tavern ends around 10.15pm). When you exit the station at Howth, turn left and walk along the promenade, then turn right into Abbey Street where the Abbey Tavern is located - it's about 10 minutes' walk. You'll find timetables for the DART here:

www.irishrail.ie

To get to the Cobblestone from your hotel, we'd suggest crossing the river and picking up the LUAS (tram) from the street just behind the river front. Take the LUAS to Smithfield stop and just cross the plaza there to the Cobblestone (just a couple of minutes' walk)

www.luas.ie

To get to the Palace Bar in Fleet Street, you can either walk from your hotel (about 20 mins) or take a bus up Pearse Street to College Green and then it's just a couple of minutes' walk from there.

We don't know of any direct public transport links between your hotel and Merrion Row where O'Donoghue's is located but it's about a 20 minute walk.

To get to O'Shea's Merchant, we'd suggest picking up the LUAS as we described above and taking it to the Four Courts stop and then crossing the river to O'Shea's Merchant (you'll see it on the river front).

Edited: 13 July 2010, 07:46
Marlton, New Jersey
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2. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

Thank you for such wonderful helpful information. I appreciate you taking the time to help me. I have copied your info and I am taking it with me. Do you know what time the Cobblestone has their music? Is it possible to go to Cobblestone first, then take the DART to Howth to see the Abbey Tavern and then possibly come back to see Palace Bar by using the DART? Then we would take the bus or a taxi or whatever back to the hotel. During the day, we had figured that we would go to St. Patrick's Cathedral, then Dublin Castle to see Chester Beatty Library, and then Trinity College. Not sure if we will see the Book of Kells. I heard that it is mobbed and you don't get to see much. We would walk between these. We move very quickly so we tend to get alot done in a short amount of time. My two college age kids are going to be with me. I don't know whether they will go to Abbey Tavern or not, but if they don't, I can have them go to Temple Bar area while we are there. I LOVE dancing..any dancing..and I really like Irish step dancing..so I know that I would like to see dancers. The other people in my party like music so I am trying to please us all. Thank you very much.

Dublin, Ireland
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3. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

We've given the Cobblestone session times in the second paragraph of our post above. They usually kick off around 2pm on Sundays. The Palace Bar sessions usually start some time around 9pm. Remember these times are general guidelines only as sessions tend to start when they start and finish when they finish....... it's part of the tradition. The musicians arrive, get started eventually and might stop and start throughout the evening. It's just the way it goes.

You are trying to do way too much and are in danger of enjoying none of it but spending most of your time on transport getting from one place to another. In our opinion traditional sessions are best enjoyed by settling in to one pub for the evening. If you wanted to, you could go to the Cobblestone on Sunday afternoon (but you won't be able to do all of the other things listed if you do) and the Palace in the evening. Both of these sessions are free. But you can't run between the Cobblestone, the Abbey Tavern and the Palace Bar in one evening!

The Abbey Tavern evening involves dinner and a show (a formal performance, not an informal session) and has a set fee for both. Dinner is served at 7.30pm, the show starts at 8.30pm and finishes at 10.15pm. You also need to factor in an hour to get there (getting to/from the railway station, waiting for a train, journey time etc.) and an hour to get back. Howth is approximately 14km from the city centre.

abbeytavern.ie/traditional-music-and-dance/

So you can either stay in the city centre for one of the sessions you've identified or head out to the Abbey Tavern for dinner or a show but not both.

You also have a lot crammed into your day. Are you aware that many museums and galleries don't open until late morning/lunchtime on Sundays? On Sundays Trinity College/Book of Kells will be open from 9.30am but the Chester Beatty Library doesn't open until 1pm, Dublin Castle doesn't open until 2pm and St. Patrick's is closed to visitors during services (unless you are going there to worship, in which case you would be welcome but would not be able to explore the cathedral). You'll see the Sunday services listed here, during which time you will not be able to visit.

www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/Worship.aspx

Check out the piece on 'What's open in Dublin on Sundays?' in the Top Questions about Dublin section on the right hand side of the Dublin Forum for more information about Sunday openings.

If your intention is as you say to move very quickly between a lot of sights, you are really going to miss an awful lot. A large part of the charm of Dublin is the city itself (and its people) which is so much more than the sum of its attractions. It's a great city for strolling around, particularly on Sundays and we would advise a less crammed itinerary. We would normally advise people to do a maximum of maybe three or four attractions in a day, and as you will be visiting on a Sunday your time is even more restricted in terms of the attractions you have listed.

The tickbox, hit and run style of tourism doesn't really work in Ireland as so much of the experience is about being here rather than lots and lots of 'doing'. Over and over again we see posters here planning their trips and attempting to do way to much. Some take the advice of locals and posters who have experience of visiting Ireland and cut down their 'must do lists to a manageable size. Even then they often post after their trip to say they had wished they had cut it down even more. Others who ignore the advice often post to say they regretted this. One of the most frequent comments on the forums from visitors after their trips is that they wished they had done less. No-one ever says they wished they had done more. We know this may be your only trip and that you want to see as much as possible, but you run the risk of sabotaging it if you try to cram it so that your itinerary is bursting at the seams.

Marlton, New Jersey
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4. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

OK. I understand. I guess I will discuss it with the other members in my group and see what they want to do most. I wish I had more time. One day in Dublin just isn't enough!! I guess we will have to choose between the Irish music or the dancing.

I looked at St. Patrick's Cathedral. They have a Choral at 3pm. Can the general public go to those?

Dublin, Ireland
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5. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

Yes, St. Patrick's is very welcoming of visitors who come to the cathedral to worship so you can attend Choral Evensong. St. Patrick's is an Anglican (Protestant) cathedral but they do welcome people of other denominations to worship there.

Edited: 13 July 2010, 18:49
Dublin, Ireland
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6. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

Hey Angeleyes,

You have some good advice from Tapl there. I see that you were looking for Irish Dancing also.

Riverdance is running in the Gaiety Theatre until the end of August - for more info go to www.gaietytheatre.ie

Also there is Celtic Rising in the Burlington Hotel - for more info visit www.burlingtonhotel.ie

Hope this helps.

7. Re: Please give advice on Irish Music and Dancing

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