Dingle Town on Dingle Peninsula offers 50 pubs for approximately 2,000 locals (and quite a few tourists) and some of the best music anywhere in Ireland. This is the reason I go to Dingle every time I'm in Ireland.
I feel the most alive, present, and just loving life when listening to great live Irish music. There are several talented local musicians who live in Dingle, and in summers many Irish musicians flock to Dingle. Walking down the old streets of Dingle on a summer night, music will float out from many of the 50 pubs to tickle the ears. When in Dingle, I forgo sleep for music and I highly recommend you do the same!
Over the years I have returned to my favorite pubs in Dingle for music, engaging settings, good conversation, and mighty craic (that's good fun in Gaelic).
My favorite pubs in Dingle:
*I'm starting this post with a special mention because before the music gets going in the pubs at 9 or so, some nights you can find music at the Dingle Music Store at around 7 pm. The father/son duo, that own the shop, offer fabulous history, entertaining Irish narrative, and great music in a wonderful setting. A couple of the churches will put on concerts as well in the summer.
Dicks Mack's Pub: Sometimes there is music here, but mostly it is fun to just have a pint in this pub because of the setting. In years gone by, this was a shoe business by day and pub by night. And in one corner you can see remnants of an area quartered off for women. Having Irish in my blood, I don't see Irish women putting up with that for long. Once after a couple pints, while talking to the bartender, he mentioned that back in the day the women usually stayed at the bar and their husbands went to the area for women.
Foxy John's Bar /Hardware/ Bicycles: Another great pub because of the ambiance. A person can buy some pliers or a hammer while enjoying a pint. Great place for a midday drink or to get a drink before the music begins.
John Benny's Pub: This is my favorite 7-8 pm starter pub. I like to hunker down at a good table in the front, eat their pretty good pub grub, and hear the first hour or so of trad music there.
O'Sullivan's Courthouse Pub: The owner of this pub is a well known Dingle musician himself and the music here has never let me down. I usually spend the last prime hour of music-listening in this pub. (Music in most pubs usually goes until 11 or 11:30.)
An Droichead Beag: There is usually great trad music at this pub until about 11:30. On summer nights it then transitions into a rave until about 2 am. For night owls and dancing enthusiasts alike it's a good place to end the evening.
In this above map, I mark the route that I would walk around these pubs: Starting before dinner for a pint or two at Foxy John's and Dick Mack's, catching a concert at the Music Shop, grabbing pub grub and catching the first hour of music at John Benny's, then proceeding on to O'Sullivan's and An Droichead Beag to finish the night out. "E" marked on the map is O'Flaherty's, which is so swamped with tourists in the summer I have not enjoyed it in the past, but in the off season it is the best bet for music. If you are loving the music at one pub and have a great spot to sit and tap your foot, stay there as long as the music tickles your fancy or talks to your soul like only great live music does.
There are so many great pubs in Dingle you really can't go wrong when pub crawling. My best advice is to follow your ears and the Guinness.
Did this post inspire your marvelous wanderings? Let me know.