The Best Pubs With Live Irish Music

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 14 months ago

Last Updated 06 April 2023

The Best Pubs With Live Irish Music
The Cobden Arms. Photo: Geoff Holland

What's the craic? There are over 175,000* people who classify themselves as Irish living in London, and many of them love to listen to traditional Irish music. Thankfully, plenty of London pubs put on Irish sessions weekly. Here are some of the best.

*As of the 2011 census.

The Auld Shillelagh

The Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington once won the Irish Times' best Irish pub in the world (outside of Ireland) award. So it's no surprise that they offer traditional Irish music, alongside (supposedly) the best pints of Guinness in England. If that isn't enough to tempt you, then consider this — Irish music legend Shane Macgowan is among the pub's fans. Also, they have Taytos.

105 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UD

Sir Colin Campbell

Kilburn was once the hub of all things Irish in London, and although today's immigrants from the Emerald Isle tend to head towards south west London, rather than north west, the area still retains some of its old heritage. One pub keeping the Irish memory alive is Sir Colin Campbell. Unlike many other Irish pubs which offer traditional tunes once a week, music emanates from Sir Colin three times a week. There are over 40 beers on offer here, so if you want something a little more adventurous to accompany the music than a Guinness, then this is a good shout.

224-226 Kilburn High Road, NW6 2BY

The Hop Pole

South of the river is where many of today's Irish residents park up, so it's only fitting that we highlight some Irish music sessions in that part of town. The Hop Pole is a sports focused — yes, they show GAA — Wandsworth joint, but on Sunday nights, the Irish music kicks in. A little unusually, while your ears delight in the pipes and banjos, allow your stomach to be occupied by the pub's selection of Thai food.

64 Putney Bridge Road, SW18 1HR

The Antelope

Here at Londonist, we love Antic pubs, and The Antelope in Tooting has Irish music every Sunday afternoon. This is the perfect option if you're looking for something that doesn't stretch late into the night — it's from 3pm-5pm. Tooting is officially one of the coolest places on earth, so where better to listen to the bouzouki, pipes and banjo?

76 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NG

The Lamb

Holloway Road is another classic Irish London haunt, which isn't quite as green as in days gone by. However, the Highbury end of the road has a conclave of buzzy pubs that are well worth visiting. Among them is The Lamb, where pints are enjoyed in beautiful mood lighting. The spot-on ambience is furthered on Tuesday nights when Wraggle Taggle — led by Mick O'Connor — play out traditional Irish folk songs.

54 Holloway Road, N7 8JL

The Colonel Fawcett

Camden rounds out the trio of north London's Irish locales, and if you want Irish music without the pub setting, then the nearby London Irish Centre is a must. However, if you want the atmosphere — and beers — of a pub, then The Colonel Fawcett is a good shout, offering both traditional Irish songs and more poppy offerings, every Thursday night.

1 Randolph Street, NW1 0SS

Photo: Blythe Hill Tavern

Blythe Hill Tavern

CAMRA award winning Blythe Hill Tavern is beloved by its Forest Hill locals. Late on Thursdays, Irish musicians take over. They sit in a cosy part of the pub called the snug, and above their heads, Guinness memorabilia lines the walls. This one has a real community feel, just as Irish music should do.

319 Stanstead Road, SE23 1JB

There are plenty more traditional Irish music nights in pubs — check out these listings — or shout out your favourite in the comments below.