Home » Blog » Music Interview: Niall Byrne + Dublin

Music Interview: Niall Byrne + Dublin

Dublin city centre 

In 2005, Niall Byrne founded the music blog Nialler9 as a place for him to discuss the music he loves, from folk to hip-hop. Since then, his well-crafted site and passion for music has led Nialler9 to become Ireland’s most popular music blog and for Niall to writing gigs at newpapers and magazines as well as a position on the judging panel for the Choice Music Prize – the annual Irish album of the year award. In addition to running his blog, Niall is also the editor for Irish music site State Magazine. Niall shares with us his insider tips for where to go to experience great music, eat good food and see some sites in Dublin.
What should we know before we go to the Dublin?

Dublin city itself is pretty small which means it’s perfect for gigs as it’s easy to walk around between venues. Check entertainment.ie and my blog’s weekly gig guide for what is on music-wise.
That bars shut at half 11 at night except for on the weekends where it’s 12.30am. There are late bars but most of them are useless. If you’re an indie music fan you’ll probably end up in Whelan’s on Wexford Street whether you intend to or not.
The most-revered independent music shop just closed down last month sadly but there are a few great music shops. We still have a Tower Records here which is independently-owned and has a great vinyl section. There’s also City Discs in Temple Bar for more electronic and second hand stuff.
Transport can be a pain after 11.30pm if you’re staying outside of the city so stay in the city if you can.


Who are your local musical heroes?

That’s a really hard question. Most of them are current. Labels like Richter Collective, Kaboogie and Popical Island. Bands like Adebisi Shank, Super Extra Bonus Party, Jape, The Redneck Manifesto. Others like promoter Foggy Notions run by Leagues O’ Tool, Karl Geraghty. Journalists and industry people like Donal Dineen, Jim Carroll, Leagues O’ Toole, Angela Dorgan. Anyone who has fire in their bellies for music basically. They’re all dicks in real life unfortunately. I kid.


What local bands or musicians should we be listening out for?

Dublin has a great variation of music at the moment. I couldn’t honestly say that a few years ago. The easiest way to delve in is to check out what’s going on right now. I wrote a column for Drowned in Sound in the UK to this end that I’ve been told was pretty indispensable for someone who just arrived.

What are your favorite music venues and where should we eat and drink around there?

Whelan’s is a bit of a legendary spot and the downstairs room has consistently brilliant sound. Vicar Street is great for large-scale gigs. The Sugar Club is good for seated gigs. The interior of the Olympia Theatre is worth a look itself – it’s an old Victorian-era music hall. After that, there’s a new venue opening on the quays called The Workman’s Club which looks like it’s going to establish itself pretty quickly. The Twisted Pepper for electronic gigs. A lot of events are taking places in empty buildings, galleries, houses and apartments at the moment due to the recession so that’s been great.
As far as pubs go – Grogans on South William Street for Guinness and a ham and cheese toastie – this is a must do for lunch. Neary’s on Chatham Street for the best Irish coffee in the world (probably). The Long Hall on Georges Street and Stag’s Head on Dame Lame for great Guinness, The Cobblestone for a trad session plus excellent Guinness and a ramshackle smoking garden. The Bernard Shaw for a trendy place with a bus serving pizza out the back. We have a lot of pubs.

Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty Library

Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty Library

For food – most food is expensive but comparatively Gruel on Dame Street is cheap, delicious and informal – it’s European / Irish food. Green Nineteen near Whelan’s on Wexford for brilliant €10 dinner but you may need a reservation. Cornucopia, Wicklow St for the best veggie and vegan food. Govinda on Angier Street for cheap veggie food. Jo Burger in Rathmines for gourmet burgers. Kim Chi restaurant at The Hop House pub on Parnell Street for the best Korean food in Dublin city. The Mermaid Cafe on Dame Street is Gruel’s more expensive but worth it sister.
A great place for lunch is Honest to Goodness for soup and sandwiches. Simon’s Place for coffee and a bun (both in George’s Arcade). Fallon and Byrne supermarket on Exchequer St has great coffee and pastries. 3FE in Twisted Pepper on Abbey Street has a barista champion behind the counter.


Electric PicnicAny local music festivals or events we should put on our calendar?

Electric Picnic in August/September takes place an hour outside Dublin and is the best thing going festival wise. This year Roxy Music, LCD Soundsystem, Massive Attack, The National, Fever Ray, Modest Mouse, Foals and loads more are playing.
Most festivals take place outside of Dublin. A big list of all of them is here for this year.


Is there a ” Dublin sound?” Or is there a community/scene vibe in the city?

No. That’s what makes it so exciting right now. Generally, people are very friendly so if there’s something you’re into you’ll probably find a scene of like-minded people into the same thing.


What’s your perfect night out in Dublin?

Going to three or four gigs in one night. Rushing around the city to get them all. Collapsing in a heap afterwards and repeat.

Trinity College - Front Square

Trinity College - Front Square

Any other things that are a must see and do in Dublin?

Take a walk around Trinity College – visitors are urged to go to see The Book of Kells but it is rather anti-climatic. Instead, you can head over to the Pavillion (The Pav) which is the bar on the cricket grounds. If it’s a sunny day, there will be students and pedestrians alike enjoying a beer on the lawn. If it’s happening, it’s a must see. Otherwise, the Douglas Hyde museum in Trinity College near the Nassau Street entrance often has interesting exhibitions.
For galleries, the National Art Gallery is interesting enough, and Kilmainham Modern Art Museum (IMMA) is quite good, even if it’s just to see the building, which is an old hospital used for soldiers during the two World Wars.

Glendalough Monastery

Glendalough Monastery

One of the best museums is The Chester Beatty library in Dublin Castle. The museum is home to numerous antique books and documents collected by the American mining billionaire Chester Beatty, who left all his stuff to Ireland.
A fun tour to do is the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, which gives you an insight into the literary history of Dublin, led by actors who recite extracts from Irish literary history while moving you along pubs which were popular with said writers. It takes in around 5 pubs, and the guides point out interesting buildings along the way.
If you wanted to travel a little bit out of Dublin for one day, there are day trips to Glendalough, a beautiful ancient monastic site about an hour from Dublin. Only go if it’s a nice. It’s a killer in the wind and rain. You can take a half day tour there, have a walk around in the ruins of the monastic village which dates back to the 6th century and then have a walk around the surrounding hills, while still being back in Dublin in time for tea. Which means pints and a gig.
25 Wexford Street, DUBLIN 2, Co. Dublin City, Ireland‎ – 01 4780766‎

View Larger Map
Vicar Street
58 Thomas Street, DUBLIN 2, Ireland‎ – 01 4545533‎

View Larger Map
The Sugar Club
8 Lower Leeson Street, DUBLIN 2, Co. Dublin City, Ireland‎ – 01 67871

View Larger Map
Olympia Theatre
72 Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland‎ – 01 679 3323‎

View Larger Map
Grogan’s Castle Lounge
15 South William Street, Dublin, Co. Dublin City, Ireland‎ – 01 6779320‎

View Larger Map
1 Chatham Street, DUBLIN 2, Co. Dublin City, Ireland‎ – 01 6778596‎

View Larger Map
137 Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6, Co. Dublin, Ireland‎ – 01 491 3731‎

View Larger Map

Scroll To Top