It won't come as any surprise to you to learn that Dublin has more than its fair share of music events across the numerous venues in our capital city. But those of you who want to escape the 'big smoke' for a while still have numerous options across the rest of the country if you're looking to witness some of the great live music that Ireland has to offer, showing that there's plenty to the Emerald Isle outside of the big city.

Words: John Balfe

Roisin Dubh
Lower Dominick Street, Galway

Ever since it first opened its doors in 1993, Roisin Dubh (pictured above) has been a major player on the Irish live music scene and has showcased a who's-who of big names from both home and abroad on its stage during that time. A pint in Roisin Dubh has become a rite of passage for any Galwegian music fan worth their salt and regulars over the years have been fortunate enough to see famous names like Ed Sheeran, The xx, Modest Mouse, Ryan Adams, Lisa Hannigan and many more walk through its doors.


Image: Dolan's Facebook

Dock Road, Limerick

Now in its twentieth year, Dolan's is the pride and joy of Limerick's live music scene. Initially designed as a venue to house the city's ever-expanding traditional music scene, Dolan's quickly grew in reputation and has played host to numerous acts over the years including Kasabian, Snow Patrol and Franz Ferdinand. As its reputation grew, so did the venue and it has been expanded to include three separate live music venues as well as a traditional Irish pub and restaurant.


Image: Cyprus Avenue Facebook / Dragan Tomas

Cyprus Avenue
Caroline Street, Cork

The Go! Team, Iain Archer, Mumford & Sons and Spiritualized are just four of the well-known names who have graced Cyprus Avenue's stage over the course of the last few years, helping the small Cork venue establish a big reputation for itself. Cyprus Avenue is just a stone's throw from the River Lee, close to a couple of other music venues, but in our opinion it's the best place to witness a great gig in the Rebel County.


Image: Set Theatre website

Set Theatre
John Street, Kilkenny

The newest venue on our list, the Set Theatre is the latest part of the seemingly perpetually growing Langton's Hotel near the centre of the city. Equally adept at housing live music, comedy or theatre, the Set Theatre can hold just shy of 400 people (at a seated gig, that is) and is, in this writer's humble opinion, one of the finest-looking live venues in the entire country. The summer months will see the venue play host to the likes of Heathers, Damien Dempsey and The Hot Sprockets as it continues to bring the best of Irish music to Kilkenny.


Image: Empire Music Hall Facebook

Empire Music Hall
Botanic Avenue, Belfast

If you're travelling north of the border you will certainly have your pick of live music venues from the massive ones (The Odyssey) to the not so massive (Black Box Theatre) but, all things considered, Empire Music Hall is among the pound-for-pound best venues in Belfast. After opening its doors for the first time in 1987, the venue has seen performances from the likes of Sigur Ros, Snow Patrol and Two Door Cinema Club (among many, many others). And now, some 23 years after its opening, the live music venue on Botanic Avenue shows little sign of its influence diminishing.


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