We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


Virtual Reality Tour: Explore Dublin's legendary Windmill Lane Studios on your smartphone

KBC and TheJournal.ie are helping you explore an iconic Irish landmark every month. Experience Your World.

Tap to start your tour in Windmill Lane’s Studio One. Look around in 360 degrees, and walk by tapping the circles. The blue dots will tell you more – thanks to Windmill Lane’s Niall McMonagle – while the red dots are music. And look out for Ed Sheeran’s signature on the wall. If you have Google Cardboard or other VR headset, you can enjoy a full 3D experience by tapping the ‘goggles’ icon.

AT THE CENTRE of Windmill Lane’s main live room is a Steinway grand piano that has been played by everyone from Bono to David Bowie, Sinead O’Connor to Ed Sheeran.

An astonishing range of musicians have recorded at the studios: U2 most famously, using this equipment to turn out iconic albums from Boy to The Joshua Tree, Pop and All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

But the huge 1980s-era mixing desks have also heard artists as diverse as The Commitments and Kylie, the Rolling Stones and 50 Cent. “Everybody has recorded on that thing,” says studio manager Niall McMonagle. ”If this desk could tell stories…”

Now as part of the Experience Your World project with KBC and TheJournal.ie, we’re taking you on a virtual reality tour through an iconic Irish landmark each month. To begin, let’s explore the corridors walked by Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry.

(As well as the Spice Girls, Herbie Hancock, Lady Gaga, Nile Rodgers, REM… the list goes on.)

The building - formerly a power station for Dublin's tram network - that now houses the Windmill Lane studios Wikipedia Wikipedia

Since 1988, the studios have occupied a striking art deco building on Ringsend Road – which began its life as a power station for Dublin’s old tram network before turns as a Bovril factory and a snooker club.

Studio One, above, is the largest room in the building. It’s one of only two studios in Ireland that can fit a full orchestra (the other one being RTE).

Global artists passing through Dublin will also use Windmill Lane, says McMonagle. “It could be somebody in town who’s doing a show at the 3Arena, and asks the label to find them a studio in Dublin. And because of that heritage, we’re the first studio people will call.”

But the huge Studio One space isn’t all there is to Windmill Lane. Two floors down, Studio Two is a much smaller room that is often the choice of rock bands.

Tap below to continue your tour through Studio Two.

Ed Sheeran recorded at Windmill Lane while playing his Croke Park gigs. Lady Gaga dropped in between dates at the O2.

The studios are packed with vintage analogue equipment – relics in a digital age, perhaps, but ones that are “quite sought after” by musicians, says McMonagle. At the centre of it all is the giant Neve VR2 Legend console that dominates Studio One. It’s very large.

“When they were building the studio,” McMonagle says, “they couldn’t bring it up the stairs, and they had to crane it up and knock a hole in the side of the building.” That hole was then glazed, and is now a window with a fine view over the bus depot.

A close up of studio equipment Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

McMonagle has worked as a studio manager and engineer at Windmill Lane since the studios were taken over by Pulse College in 2009. So what are the moments that stand out over that time?

“Nile Rodgers would be a real moment for me,” he says. “And the Ed Sheeran thing was cool. But most of the memorable moments happen with bands that haven’t made it yet. Who are incredible musicians, or just do a great take of a song.”

And some of the magic of the studio, McMonagle adds, is in hiding the incredible craft that goes into music from the listeners at home. ”I remember one guy who played a dulcimer on a Chieftains record. To get it in the right key for the song, he had to do it at double speed, so we could slow the recording down. And he just did it in one take.

“Those are the moments when your jaw hits the floor. And then when you hear it on the record it just sounds like the most normal thing on the world.”

Did you find the hole in the wall? The vintage tape machine? Nile Rodgers’ signature? 

KBC’s Experience Your World is a technology project that allows people to experience spaces around them in virtual reality – from properties on Daft.ie, to iconic landmarks and city neighbourhoods on TheJournal.ie. As a digital-led bank, KBC also offers 24/7 anytime chat on the phone, webchat and social media, account opening in minutes on your mobile and a Mobile Mortgage team who can come to your house.

Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. Security and insurance are required. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel