County Mayo is a live music fan’s paradise. So if you’re looking for some great places to make the most of it, read on.
The mountains and beaches of County Mayo have captured the hearts of singers and songwriters the world over, so it’s no surprise that Mayo is at the heart of traditional Irish music.
While the natives of Mayo, Donegal and Cork are still debating who has the longest coastline, no one can dispute the fact that Mayo is a hotspot for a roaring ‘trad session’, an open turf fire and the perfect pub.
Planning a trip to Mayo? We’ve got you covered – here’s our list of the top five places to experience Irish music live in County Mayo.
5. Rouse’s Bar, Ballina – one of the oldest bars in Ballina
Ballina was home to the great-great-grandfather of US President Joe Biden and is the birthplace of Rouse’s Bar, the first traditional music center on our list of the top five places to experience Irish music live in County of Mayo.
Rouse Bar was established in 1946, but the building itself has been a pub since 1865, making it one of the oldest bars in town.
Everything about the Rouse Bar exudes authenticity, from the black and white photos on the walls to its decorative ornaments and cozy interior.
You can find live music here every Saturday from 10 p.m., so enjoy the song and enjoy the pub’s locally distilled beers and whiskeys.
Address: 53 Pearse Street, Carrowcushlaun West, Ballina, County Mayo
4. Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant, Achill – for a traditional Irish atmosphere
Achill Island becomes an exotic paradise on a sunny day, with Keem Bay resembling “the beach” from Leonardo DiCaprio’s early 2000s film.
If you’re planning a trip to Achill, tunes and a pint are among the essentials needed to cool off after a long day of sightseeing.
We recommend Gielty’s Bar, where you can find Irish music sessions almost every night of the week.
The staff at Gielty’s bar go above and beyond their hospitality by providing a free shuttle service that will take you to and from the pub from any location on the island. (Check the Gielty website for more information.)
Now you can responsibly enjoy each set of reels while tasting Gielty’s great wine and whiskey selection.
Address: Main Street, Dooagh, Achill Island, County Mayo
3. Clare Island Community Center, Clare Island – one of the best places to experience Irish music live in County Mayo
Irish rock band The Saw Doctors immortalized Clare Island with their hit song “The Green and Red of Mayo”.
The lyrics of this song tell us that Clare Island is the ancestral home of Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley (Granuaile) and a great place to spot whales and other sea creatures.
Most importantly, the Clare Island Community Center is a must-see for fans of Irish music. Trad evenings take place there every Tuesday evening in July and August.
Visitors can observe or participate in music, song, dance and storytelling. All the bells and whistles that accompany the experience of traditional Irish music and culture.
Address: Clare Island, Capnagower, Westport, County Mayo
2. McDonnell’s Bar, Belmullet – the lobster trap
Belmullet is a Gaeltacht (Irish) town of just over 1,000 people who all have one thing in common. They and tourists love McDonnell Bar.
The truth is in the pub’s nickname, known as the “lobster pot” to the locals. The reason is that it looks like an addicting trap.
Minutes turn into hours at McDonnell’s, where visitors can enjoy regular live music and a fantastic pint of Guinness. McDonnell’s is unforgettable thanks to the kindness of the owner of the Pádraig pub, who welcomes each guest like a member of the family.
Pádraig regularly hosts trad sessions, solo singers on guitar and will often play music there himself.
Address: Lower Barrack St, Belmullet, County Mayo
1. Matt Molloy’s, Westport – our first spot for live music in Mayo
Westport is popular among tourists for its many attractions, such as Westport House and the famous Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage Mountain.
This makes it the perfect pick for the # 1 spot on our list of the top five places to experience Irish music live in County Mayo.
When you’re there, don’t forget to visit Matt Molloy’s pub. This spot belongs to Matt Molloy of the internationally renowned group The Chieftains. Get ready here for Irish music sessions seven nights a week!
The music and laughter emanating from this bar painted in bright red and white will draw you from the end of the street. When he’s not on tour, you can catch a glimpse of Matt joining in for small sessions.
If bigger pubs are more your style, you’ll love the bright and airy backyard garden bar, which often hosts live music and small concerts.
Address: Bridge Street, Westport, County Mayo
By Mairéad Ni Ghráinne
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