Dublin’s reputation for producing and promoting artists, poets, raconteurs and rabble-rousers is on display just about every night in the city, nestled in cosy corners, bustling bars and hallowed haunts. An open mic night is a great way to experience the versatility and sheer enthusiasm of what the Irish music scene has to offer, and you might even feel tempted to get up and perform yourself.
WHELAN’S SONG CYCLE
Where: Whelan’s, 25 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
When: Mondays at 9pm
Taking pride of place in the front bar of one of the country’s most beloved music havens, Whelan’s Song Cycle is a reliably thrilling platform for newcomers and ambitious experimentalists alike. The Song Cycle favours a freewheeling, enthusiastic approach, resulting in an electric and eclectic atmosphere.
THE CIRCLE SESSIONS @ THE INTERNATIONAL BAR
Where: The International Bar, 23 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
When: Mondays at 7pm
Fitting for one of Ireland’s most raucous haunts, the International Bar boasts a near-constant stream of exciting performances. Chief among them is the Circle Sessions, a weekly gathering of lively music, spoken word poetry, comedy and storytelling. The famous bar also plays host to further entertainment in the form of Playtyme (Sunday) and Dublin’s Underground Beat (Wednesday).
RESIDENT OPEN MIC @ THE MERCANTILE
Where: The Mercantile Hotel, 28 Dame Street, Dublin 2
When: Wednesdays at 8pm
Hosted by top local musicians and returning favourites, the Resident Open Mic is a first-signed-up, first-on-the-bill showcase of classic songs and compelling original creations. With a wealth of talent in the audience and a fun communal ambience, the Mercantile is an inviting spot for acts to cut their teeth and for punters to walk away with a new favourite.
THAT’S IT! @ SIN É
Where: Sin É, 15 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 2
When: Mondays at 10pm
Housed in the intimate surrounds of Sin É, That’s It! more than lives up to its determinedly buoyant billing. Each week, a spirited collective set about connecting with the crowd in their own individual manner. Plus, there’s an added bonus if you’re planning on performing – bring along a USB to take home a recording of your set, completely free of charge.
THE APOLLO SESSIONS @ THE BLEEDING HORSE
Where: The Bleeding Horse, 24-25 Upper Camden Street, Dublin 2
When: Sundays at 9pm
Fresh cultural chapters are penned and delivered in a warm setting that dates back to the late 1800s, as rising independent musicians strut their stuff at the Bleeding Horse’s famed Apollo Sessions. There’s also the odd ghost story thrown in, for that authentic and ancient Dublin flavour.
OPEN MIC @ DARKEY KELLY’S
Where: Darkey Kelly’s, 19 Fishamble Street, Dublin 8
When: Tuesdays at 9pm
An evening devoted to the power of the songwriter, this open mic experience welcomes musicians from all across the globe and is a particularly good bet for strong traditional Irish charm, with many a home-grown veteran popping up to keep a finely-tuned ear on proceedings.
THE RUBY SESSIONS @ DOYLE’S
Where: Doyle’s Pub, College Street, Dublin 2
When: Tuesdays at 9pm
Though not strictly an open mic night, the famous Ruby Sessions has become a staple of the Irish music scene over the past couple of decades, with both native independent artists and heavyweight names dropping by to lend some acoustic flair. Past illustrious attendees include Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini, Mumford & Sons, Villagers, Lisa Hannigan, Hozier, Wallis Bird, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Joshua Radin and Gemma Hayes.