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9 of the best spots around Ireland for a great trad session (without the tourists)

Our insider guide to the best music.

WHO AMONG US doesn’t love a good trad session? The singalongs, the boisterous atmosphere, the spine-tingling moments where you can hear a pin drop – there’s nothing quite like it. 

But where to go for one that’s properly authentic and slightly off the tourist trail? Here are some suggestions… 

1. Jim O’ The Mills, Co Tipperary

Six nights a week, Jim O’ The Mills in Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary functions as a family home. On Thursday night, it opens to the public and springs to life.

Owned by a family of avid musicians, a night in Jim O’ The Mills can quickly descend into a raucous session with local musicians and customers alike liable to join in. The lineup may change each week, but the music never stops. 

2. Gunnings, Co Westmeath

Walking into Gunnings is a little bit like stepping back in time and its sessions are as legit as they come. The pub regularly welcomes world class musicians like Mick Foster of Foster & Allen to perform there. They don’t make them like this anymore. 

3. Slieve Bloom Bar, Kinnitty, Co Offaly

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This well-regarded Kinnitty pub welcomes the cream of the crop of local musicians to come and perform as part of the Slieve Bloom Sessions, which take place on Wednesday nights throughout the year. Well, that’s one way of brightening up your Wednesday evening. 

4. Walsh’s, Stoneybatter, Dublin

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While nearby The Cobblestone might be regarded as the top spot for traditional music in Dublin 7, Walsh’s in Stoneybatter is also worth stopping into if you’re a music aficionado and looking for a cosy pints and tunes in an informal setting.

Singer-songwriter Lisa O’Neill and folk-trad outfit Ye Vagabonds are the pub’s resident musicians and perform every Sunday and Monday, respectively. 

5. The Chambers, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

A relatively new addition to the scene in Mullingar, The Chambers has quickly become one of the area’s top music venues. The pub hosts a lively session every Thursday evening as part of Trad Thursdays. You’re welcome to join in or simply sit back with a pint and enjoy the tunes. 

6. An Spailpin Fanach, Cork

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This Cork city watering hole promises craic, ceoil, agus deoch – and it delivers in spades. An Spailpin Fanach hosts sessions six nights per week with musicians sitting around two tables and playing to their heart’s content. The feel is spontaneous, informal and, crucially, authentic.  

7. Shoot The Crows, Sligo

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This beloved Sligo haunt puts on music four nights a week and holds the distinction of being home to the longest-running traditional session in Sligo town. Stop in on a Wednesday evening for No Crows, the pub’s signature trad session. 

8. Bofey Quinns, Corofin, Co Clare

In Burren country and fancy sitting in on a rollicking session? Add this charming family-run pub to your to-do list. Stop in any Wednesday or Saturday night and you’ll be treated to a spirited session befitting of the Wesht. 

9. M Hughes, Dublin

Located near the Four Courts, M Hughes is respected by musicians and trad purists alike. The pub hosts performances in its front room. If you’re in the market for a true Dub session akin to The Cobblestone, look no further. 

More: 7 of the best old-fashioned pubs around Ireland, according to the man who knows best> 

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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