Dublin, as you would expect from a vibrant capital city, has produced a string of highly regarded, world famous bands and many others have become associated with the city and been assimilated into the its rich cultural history. Sinead O’Connor, The Hothouse Flowers, the eponymous Dubliners, Westlife, Glen Hansard and of course Thin Lizzy are all seen as favourite sons and daughters of The Fair City, but even amongst such illustrious company one band more than any other is synonymous with Dublin, and that is U2.
Bonavox, Earl Street North
So, if U2 are a band who lie at the heart of the city, their front man, Bono, is at the heart of the band, but where did he get the name from? In pre –U2 times, Paul Hewson, to give him his real name, used to hang around with a bunch of friends known as Lypton Village, a sort of surrealist street gang. They were in the habit of giving each other strange nicknames and this shop, selling hearing aids of all things, provided the inspiration for Bono Vox (which incidentally is good voice in Latin) and was finally shortened to Bono. Mount Temple Comprehensive School, Malahide Road, Clontarf All of U2 attended this multi-denominational school on the northern side of Dublin, as did Alison Stewart, the future Mrs Paul Hewson and Dik Evans, brother of “The Edge” and founder member of The Virgin Prunes.
The Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar
Every band needs a manager to make that break from local heroes to contenders playing on a wider and international stage. On the advice of none other than Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott (whose statue you will also find in this part of town) U2 made a few calls and an initially sceptical Paul McGuiness came to watch them at this venue. Though still unsure of their talent he was nevertheless impressed by their commitment and thus they headed off down a hard but rewarding career path together.
The Project Arts Centre is still a thriving and exciting cultural hub with two theatres and gallery space found within and surrounded by a spread of great restaurants and bars. Catch a show, watch a band, you never know U2’s story might just be repeating itself and you may one day be able to say that you saw a certain band way back when… The Grand Canal Dock If you have the gatefold version of the October vinyl album (anyone remember those?) open it out and the back cover in particular reveals that the band are stood in front of a waterfront vista, The Grand Canal Dock. About a decade after that photograph was taken, the docklands area, which had long fallen into disrepair, had vast amounts of money poured into it and is now a mix of hi-tech businesses, commerce, media companies and arts spaces. You will find plenty to do in the area whilst trying to recreate the album cover image.
But U2 are nothing if not a product of Dublin and a sense of the band can be found by visiting any of the thriving social scenes in the city such as O’Connell Street, which leads to the Docklands area and Temple Bar. There are many pubs and café’s with their own small tributes to the band, pictures on display, lyrics in frames, even cafes that take the names of U2 songs. Go, immerse yourself in Dublin’s unique vibe and walk in the footsteps of four of its most celebrated musical sons.