"One Music Venue In This Irish County Beats Whelan's And The Olympia Hands Down When It Comes To Intimate Gigs"

This is the music lover's guide to Cork

Connollys Of Leap

It's home to the place of the people who were "dancing at the disco bumper to bumper" so if you're looking for somewhere to lose your jumper to music, Cork is the perfect place.

No matter what type of tunes you love, there’ll be somewhere in Cork that will welcome you with open arms and satisfy your ears.

And we've put together a list of the best places to help you find that perfect ‘somewhere’.

Connollys Of Leap

Connolly's Of Leap


I stumbled across Connolly’s Of Leap when Irish band Fight Like Apes played there. It was described to me as The Whelan’s of Cork, but the description was wrong. It was so much more than this.

It looked like somebody had rented out their shed to a music promoter for the night but once you stepped inside, it was rich in musical history that made me almost embarrassed to have made the earlier assumption. One of the hundreds of posters inside that caught my eye was that of Nirvana who played here in the early 90s.

It’s a small, compact venue but gives off a unique and intimate atmosphere that is worth the admission alone, no matter how the band plays.

Just up the road in Clonakilty stands De Barra’s which is renowned for its lively, nightly music which varies from Trad to Indie to pop while throwing in electronic for good measure also. Christy Moore famously said that “there’s Carnegie Hall, The Royal Albert, Sydney Opera House and then there’s De Barra’s.”

So, it’s good to know that you don’t have to fly to Australia, USA or the UK to get a top musical experience like this.

De Barras Cork

De Barra's

Crane Lane and Cyprus Avenue are the big dogs when it comes to music in the city itself. There’s usually a fee to get into Crane Lane but bands come from all over the country to play here so you know that your €10 has been well spent.

As for Cyprus Avenue, they have an ideal balance which showcases well known bands and singers as well as up and coming bands. December, for example sees the likes of The Blizzards and Ryan McMullan sandwiched between the lesser known Sam Divine and JAM all in the same week.

Cyprus Avenue Cork

Cyprus Avenue Cork


What was once known as ‘The Pav’ has since been renamed to ‘Dali’ but one thing that never changed is the style of music inside the doors. It’s the place you will go to when you’re looking for a ‘drunken bop’ as they say down south. If House and Pure Techno music is your scene, you’ll be happy out to have spent all night in - what was once a cinema - when the lights come on at 3am.

If thumping music with no lyrics is your idea of a bad nightmare, however, An Brog is the best alternative. This Late Bar is equipped with a DJ that will have you pouring sweat on the dancefloor to 90s and early 2000s tunes. Honestly, there’s no way that you’ll want to leave the dancefloor when the tracks instantly switch from C’est La Vie to Maniac 2000.

Dali Cork

Dali Cork

If you want to let that inner, long-haired, air-guitar rocker come to the forefront, Fred Zepplins will surely hit the right note with you. With a name like that though, you probably would have gotten the drift yourself. It’s a tight venue which caters to Rock and Metal music and there’s always a different sub-genre playing here every night.

We demand that you try BDSM also… Now before we get a slap across the face, we’re talking about the abbreviation for Black Dog Saloon & Mezcalaria which is another famous rock and metal bar that also flirts with indie, alternative and punk music in the city.

An Spailpin Fanach

An Spailpín Fánach

If you’re trad-mad, then you will want to make this place your second home because they love whipping out an accordion and bodhrán in this county.

An Spailpín Fánach, The Oliver Plunkett and Sin É will all draw out Irish dance moves that you never even knew you had in you. Let’s just hope nobody gets your leg kicking on tape.

Opened since 1779, Spailpín is Cork’s oldest consistent pub. The establishment never changed, and neither will the ‘ceol agus craic’ as pointed out on the door. In Plunkett’s, you’ll come in for the pints and the session but stay for the quirky historical and current facts about Cork and its history which are dotted throughout the pub.

Sin É translates as ‘that’s it’ meaning, if you’re looking for the place that everybody has been raving on about in the north side of the city, that’s it.

The Oliver Plunkett

The Oliver Plunkett

You can’t mention Cork and music in the same sentence without talking about two of Ireland’s biggest festivals.

INDIEPENDENCE takes place on the outskirts of Mitchelstown on the August Bank Holiday weekend each year. The Coronas, Ocean Colour Scene, De La Soul, Kodaline and Manic Street Preachers are some of the massive names who have graced the stage over the years, playing to over 12,000 people. Full price tickets for this are €139.

As for the Cork Jazz Festival, you will attend not knowing one end of a saxophone from another but leave with a new-found love of swing, funk, groove, blues and Dixieland. Taking place on the last weekend in October, tickets for the festival are just €25 for the Saturday and Sunday night and there’s free admission for the Friday and Monday which is a lovely gesture by the organisers.

Cork Jazz Festival

Cork Jazz Festival

"After All", it's easy to see how bands such as The Sultans of Ping FC and The Frank and Walters were formed from the people's capital of Ireland when they were exposed to music venues and pubs like this.

READ NEXT:15 Off The Beaten Track Things To Do In Cork That You Won't Find In The Guidebooks

Written By

Darragh Berry

Darragh is a Mayo GAA fan for all his sins. He taught himself how to play guitar at the age of 11 and hasn't stopped playing Wonderwall since. Gets lost on the streets of Dublin as frequently as Mayo lose All-Ireland Finals. Contact - darragh@lovin.com

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