My aimless wandering in Dublin lead me to The Celt, a pub on Talbot Street, which is north of the Liffy River and away from the chaos and throngs of tourists in Temple Bar. Though they serve food and I wandered in hungry around 9:15 PM, my state of indecision and my indifference towards my growling stomach had me opting for a Guinness and a seat at a small table where I could read Joyce and rest my legs. By the time I was ready for another round, a duo with a guitar and fiddle had begun to play and I knew I wasn't going anywhere as long as there was music to be heard. The two young, handsome musicians energetically cycled through traditional Irish music, well-known Irish folk songs, classic covers, and even a rendition of Poker Face, which was surprisingly awesome. I put down my book and sat with a contented look on my face, Guinness in hand, until they finished at half eleven and I waltzed back to a good night's sleep at my hostel.
The following evening, I began a similar quest for food and ambiance, stopping by several "traditional" pubs recommended by Lonely Planet, only to be disgusted by the presence of big screen TVs and disappointed by the lack of the craic I was searching for. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I headed right back to The Celt, where another night of live music was already underway, this time by a trio of a guitar, fiddle, and accordion. Though the offerings were similar, they were no less enjoyable than the previous night and I delighted in realizing I had already committed some of the Irish drinking/folk songs to memory.
Three of my favorites are Galway Girl, Whiskey in the Jar, and I'll Tell Me Ma (Belle of Belfast City), and I've included versions of each below. Just imagine you are sitting in an Irish pub, beverage of choice in hand, and listening to a handsome young lad (or lass) play one of these to a tiny, but enthusiastic, crowd.
Though I gushed about it when my companions arrived, I never ended up going back with them. Sorry, guys-- we'll always have Dublin, yes, but it seems like only I will have The Celt.
If you go: The Celt is located at 81 Talbot Street. They have live music 7 days a week beginning at 9:30 PM. Get there early to grab a seat!