Music Culture in Dublin

Aug 4, 2023 2:04:08 PM / by Julie Ritz

CAPA_MadelineMessina_Dublin_Headshot.pngMadeline Messina was an official CEA CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on our blog An Advertising major and a French and Francophone Studies minor at the University of Florida, she studied abroad in Dublin. 

In this week's post, Madeline discusses the deep-rooted history of music in Irish culture, and how it has changed throughout the years.


Music has a close relationship with Dublin. It’s difficult to walk down a busy street in the city without hearing music. Whether it’s the buskers on Mary or Grafton street during the day or Irish trad pouring out of the pubs at night, the pulse of the music mirrors Dublin’s heartbeat.  It’s easy to see that Dubliners are very passionate about music. Plenty of the troubadours sat in the streets don’t have cups out to accept money, they do it for the love of it. Traditional musicians in pubs sit in booths playing their instruments over the tables while the sound reverberates through the crowd; they are on the same level as everyone else. It is very symbolic, in a way, because musicians aren’t idolized here, music is free to be enjoyed by the every-man.

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You can see traces of Dublin’s love for music in murals around the city. David Bowie, particularly, has an incredible presence in Dublin’s street art, with Ziggy Stardust’s lightning bolt gracing windows, doors and buildings.

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Ireland has a deep history with music. The harp, the national emblem of Ireland and the symbol of Leinster, was used in traditional Irish music from the 10th to 17th centuries, and is still a favored instrument of traditional musicians today. The 20th century became known as the traditional music revival in Ireland, particularly the 70s, because of the resurgence of admiration and innovation of traditional songs. Unfortunately, “traditional” has often been synonymous with “boring” or “bland,” but bit by bit, bands are changing this perception. Groups like Planxty, the Bothy Band and the Dubliners brought Irish trad back into the hearts of Irish citizens.

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Bono, lead singer of U2, said famously about the Dubliners as quoted on Ronnie Drew in 2008, “the thing about The Dubliners is — line'em up, the hardest rock'n'roll bands in the world, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Oasis, Nirvana, U2 — we're all a bunch of girls next to The Dubliners.” Bono recognized the talent of traditional musicians, and in comparing them to mainstream bands, shed light on how traditional music can be right up in the ranks with the popular music scene. Shortly after the traditional music revival, bands like the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly took a new spin on Irish trad by creating Celtic punk. They use an amalgam of traditional instruments and modern instruments, such as the electric guitar and bass. Some of these bands are still active today, and are beloved by not only Irish citizens but people around the world.

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Today, this history is still felt around Dublin. Music is everywhere here. There is an overwhelming amount of venues in Dublin to see live music any day of the week, and any genre you can think of. Below is a photo of band I saw this past weekend that was performing for free, a punk group performing punk classics from the likes of the Clash and Iggy Pop.

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Another group I saw played traditional music, such as the song Irish Rover performed famously by the Dubliners and the Pogues.

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If you’re looking for music to theme your Dublintrip, there are a few artists I suggest looking in to. As mentioned earlier, the Dubliners, the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly are great fun to listen to. For instrumental traditional music, look in to Lúnasa and Dervish. Lastly, a song written by an American, Galway Girl by Steve Earle, has a great Irish feel with an American country twist.

Next time you hear music coming from a nearby pub, stop inside and have a listen! You never know, you might become a fan of the Irish trad that flows through the heart of every Dubliner.

Thanks Madeline!

Madeline's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Art Abroad, Music

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