Insider Tips

Take a Walk Through U2’s Dublin

By Visit Dublin

7th June 2019

In preparation for the impending arrival of the U2 Dublin Visitor Center on Dublin’s Docklands, which will house memorabilia from the band’s long career, why not follow in their footsteps to see Dublin that little bit differently.

A view over Dublin from the Etihad Skyline at Croke Park
Croke Park

What better place to start than in the very venue where Bono and the boys have belted out all those big hits many a time? The GAA headquarters has been the fixture for virtually all of U2’s Dublin shows since The Unforgettable Fire Tour way back in 1985. They also performed songs from The Joshua Tree here in the year it was released, 1987.

Of course, the famous old ground has undergone a significant facelift since then and the stadium tour and museum visit will give even seasoned GAA fans much to savour.
 
The Ericsson Skyline Tour also delivers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city and offers a bird’s eye vantage of Europe’s fourth biggest stadium by capacity.

The Spire Dublin
North Earl Street/Talbot Street

The busy strip from the Spire down to Connolly station boasts several buildings of interest for the U2 aficionado, including the Bonavox hearing aid store, from which Paul Hewson took the name ‘Bono’ and the former Moran’s Hotel (now O’Shea’s Hotel), where U2 and many of their contemporaries played in the late 1970s.

Talbot Street was in Bono’s mind when he wrote the powerful ‘Raised by Wolves’, as he had been to Golden Discs on this street the very day in 1974 when the bombs of which he sings about were detonated.

u2 ConcertNorth Wall Quay

It’s now the site of the 14,000-capacity 3Arena where U2 played in 2015 on their Songs of Experience Tour – their first indoor shows in Dublin in 26 years.

Its old incarnation, the Point, saw the band playing a trio of celebrated shows at the end of 1989. The old venue also featured prominently in the U2 movie, Rattle & Hum – it was about to be transformed into a music venue, but at the time of filming still bore the hallmarks of its original use – a train carriage depot.

The music theme continues in the nearby Gibson Hotel – named after the famous electric guitars – and there are fine views from the top.

Windmill Lane Studio
Hanover Quay 

Cross the Samuel Beckett Bridge over the River Liffey and venture down to the street that’s on every U2 fan’s pilgrimage. Hanover Quay is where their studio has been located for more than 20 years. It’s the low-rise building festooned with graffiti in praise of U2 and sited in one of the most transformed parts of Dublin.

The cranes are busy at work, but plenty has already been built including the eye-catching Bord Gais Energy Theatre and the Marker Hotel. The latter’s rooftop bar boasts stunning views of the Aviva Stadium and Boland’s Quay.

And if you make time to walk towards the old Boland’s Mill, you’ll see Windmill Lane Recording Studios just up from Charlotte Quay – it’s one of several Dublin studios and rehearsal spaces that the band have used over the years.

The Little Museum DublinBaggot Street / St Stephen’s Green

Walk to the Green via Baggot Street and pause at the Baggot Inn. It’s been given a facelift in recent years but in a previous incarnation this was an important place in the U2 story because it was here in 1978 that the embryonic band played a residency that helped them hone their craft.
 
Then, it’s on to the Little Museum of Dublin where there’s an excellent permanent exhibition of band paraphernalia. U2: Made in Dublin boasts signed album and a Trabant car from their Achtung Baby days.  The Little Museum also has a super new exhibition running until September celebrating the Irish Pub and its impact on society, politics, pop culture and more.
 
Across the road, St Stephen’s Green is always an inviting refuge from the bustle of city life – and it was here that Bono and the Edge grazed lambs after being awarded the Freedom of Dublin, as its arcane rules permitted them to do!

Temple Bar Street SignTemple Bar

No tour of U2's Dublin would be complete without seeing The Clarence Hotel, which is owned by Bono and The Edge. This four-star boutique hotel was built in 1852 and became a favourite night spot of the band's when Bono and The Edge became co-owners in 1992. In 2000, the BBC TV program Top of The Pops filmed U2 performing their hit Beautiful Day on the roof of The Clarence and crowds of people gathered at vantage points along the Liffey to catch a glimpse of the band playing.   
 
In the same neighbourhood as The Clarence you'll find Dublin's cultural quarter Temple Bar, which has a range of cool and quirky shops, cafes and bars. Just across from Temple Bar is the famous and very picturesque Ha'penny Bridge – the perfect place to stop for a quick selfie as you're crossing the Liffey.

View of Poolbeg Chimneys from Dollymount
Further afield

There are so many pockets of Dublin that have U2 connections. Cedarwood Road in Glasnevin is where Bono grew up and he sings about his childhood there in a song of the same name from their last album, Songs of Innocence. Glasnevin Cemetary today is definitely worth a visit.

The same album alludes to happy summer days as a boy in Dollymount Strand – the glorious stretch of sand that’s long been a playground for Dubliners of all generations.

Not far from there, off the Malahide Road, is Mount Temple, the multi-denominational school where the four members of U2 first came together after Larry Mullen had pinned a note seeking potential band-mates on the school notice board.

On the Southside, a stroll on Sandymount Strand offers a reminder of how frequently a young U2 were photographed here, with those distinct 200m red-and-white Poolbeg chimneys in the background.

The picture-postcard village of Dalkey is a popular stomping ground for Bono, who lives in neighbouring Killiney. The marvellous view of the Irish Sea from Vico Road provided the inspiration for their No Line on the Horizon album. 

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