• Jack Evans

Guitars and Guinness: The Magic of Temple Bar

Dublin is often cited as the jewel in Ireland’s emerald crown. Brimming with iconic cultures and steeped in rich folklore, the city on the Liffey has rapidly become one of the most alluring destinations in Europe. Recent polls have indicated the Irish capital as the 3rd most visited city in Europe, only losing out to the likes of Rome and Paris, and it is clear to see why. Hair-raising heritage. Bountiful mountains on the skyline. Stupefying architecture. Dublin has it all in abundance. In this article, join me as I wind round the twisting streets of Dublin’s cultural centre, a place where the city’s famous nightlife truly does come to fruition. This is Ireland in a nutshell. This is Temple Bar…

Walking onto the uneven cobbles of Temple Bar also symbolizes a journey into the deepest bowels of Dublin’s unique heritage. As an outsider, the electric buzz of the Guinness-fuelled music in supplement to the beautifully illuminated architecture will give a traveller a sense of awe and wonder. Even in the harshest of winter months, a step inside this cultural icon will offer a unanimous aura of warmth.

Exploring Temple Bar will always raise one sole question in the mind of a first-time visitor. How is such vibrancy and culture shoved into such a small area? Being only 1 square mile in area, this is a very viable query. However, despite its timid size Temple Bar thrives as the centre of Irish tradition. From the guitars and violins that are played throughout the night to the taste of Ireland itself, this purely mesmerizing section of the city offers a culture shock for even the most experienced adventurers.

Located on the southern bank of the River Liffey, Temple Bar is probably the safest area of Dublin. Safe but extremely loud - I think it is best to recommend a hotel further towards the outskirts of the city if you are an avid fan of your ‘beauty sleep’. With over 10 pubs and bars lining the main vertebrae of the area, Temple Bar is rather popular with rambunctious stag-do’s and flamboyant hen parties but don’t let this minor detail distract you from the magic of the street. Granted, you may see the occasional twenty-something man dressed as a traffic cone but what you are guaranteed to witness is a lively slice of Irish tradition. From the moment the doors open at midday to when they shut on the cusp of midnight, traditional live folk music reverberates around the dated walls of many bars – thus gifting the visitor an incredible feeling of amazement once they enter. One bar I visited was The Oliver St John Gogarty Bar. Dating back to the late 19th century and taking its alias from the Irish poet of the same name, the Gogarty holds great pride in showcasing some of the upcoming folk artists in the fiercely competitive Dublin music scene. In the space of just 2 hours, I went from knowing nothing about folk music to quickly becoming its number one fan!

Regardless of your tipple in music, whether that be rap, blues or hip-hop, I can assure you Temple Bar’s epic concoction of music can get your feet tapping. Another fantastic venue for live music is the Temple Bar itself. This quintessentially Gaelic pub has forever been the adored centrepiece of the small yet vivid area. Since 1840, the pub has been serving pints to an array of thirsty Dubliners, and more recently has become the city’s prime tourist destination. From the moment it opens to the moment it closes, every square inch of the renowned establishment is packed to the rafters. Walking into the archetypal bar you are immediately greeted with an evocative concoction of amplified chords and husky voices tirelessly battling to be heard over the distinct chatter below. When one song finishes and the lead vocalist expresses his gratitude, all conversation simultaneously ceases, and ruptures of applause threaten to lift the roof off the Victorian building.

If you know that folk music is not your glass of Guinness, then you are in luck also. The vast majority of performers take great pride in playing traditional adaptations to modern classics – most of which are better than the real thing itself. Often these well-known hits lead to a massive singalong of which you have no choice but to join in. More often than not it is not the beverages the bar boast that keep people in well after the sunset but the engrossing free concert you are welcomed to so dearly. I have been fortunate to visit many cities, but none has ever felt more welcoming than Dublin. That is what is so attractive about Ireland’s capital. From the second you step onto the cobbles, your newly-enchanted being feels like a Dubliner – and this is so greatly personified in Temple Bar.

Finally, as Dublin’s central attraction you can expect things to be rather pricey. For a drink, expect a hefty €6 bill with food often being the primary perpetrator to an empty wallet. The Temple Bar is often your biggest enemy when it comes to the price tags thus prompting my advice to spend the most time in the other selection of bars and pubs on Temple Bar. I really recommend you experience the Temple Bar pub; however, I see the free-to-enjoy music of the landmark accompanied by the artistic décor as its most exquisite feature. Despite the financial costs of the city centre, the consequential hole in your pocket will not be the perpetual thing you leave Dublin with… The reminiscent memories you will cherish forever will be!

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