Dublin’s oldest neighbourhood, the Liberties has a rich musical legacy that dates to the Middle Ages. It’s a legacy that begins in the two magnificent cathedrals that overshadow it – Christ Church and St Patrick’s – where the sound of choral choirs has been heard since the 15th century.
Handel conducted the first performance of his famous Messiah in a music hall just next to Christ Church Cathedral. In more recent times, the legendary Chieftains folk group played their very first concert in St Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street, while Luke Kelly lived for many years in the heart of the Liberties. Singer Imelda May was born and raised in the neighbourhood, which is where five aspiring musicians would gather to form now legendary rock band Fontaines DC.
That’s quite the musical narrative. But the Liberties – so-named because when it was first established it was outside the city walls and so at liberty to set its own rules on trade and taxes – has been around for a long time. Here, amid the churches and cathedrals, the breweries and distilleries, is a vibrant community that clings proudly to its traditions and knows a thing or two about how to express itself, whether through sacred song or contemporary ballad.