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Dublin to the Beat of U2

In effect, Dublin is an integral part of U2’s makeup. Just a few months back they released Songs of Innocence, which Bono describes as the most personal album they have ever recorded. This, the thirteenth studio production of the Irish band, is a journey to their beginnings, to their infancy and youth. It is a period of dreams waiting to come true, with The Ramones or The Clash as the soundtrack, and Dublin as the eternal, vital backdrop. Now is undoubtedly the best time ever to visit the Irish capital – even more so if we are grooved by the beat of these innocent songs – and stroll along the streets that have witnessed the evolution of one of the foremost bands in the history of rock.

Mount Temple Comprehensive School
This was where it all started. Larry Mullen Jr. put up a sign on the school noticeboard looking for musicians to form a rock group. The call was heeded by Bono, The Edge and his brother, Dick Evans (who would be replaced soon after by Adam Clayton). Thus was Feedback born, later becoming The Hype and, finally, U2. Malahide Road.

Paul David Hewson did not become Bono until his childhood friend, Derek “Guggi” Rowan, happened to give him that nickname. It comes from Bonavox (or “good voice”), the name of a business dealing in… hearing aids! Whether you are music lovers or merely wish to check your aural capacity, the fact is the shop is still open at 9 North Earl Street.

The Projects Arts Centre
In their early years, U2 used to perform in one of the auditoriums here. And, it was at one of these concerts that they met Paul McGuinness, the group’s manager until 2013 and a crucial figure in the quartet’s career. The Project Arts Centre now operates as an art exhibition gallery, and also hosts some of the city’s major festivals, including the Dublin Writers’ Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival and Dublin Dance Festival. 39 East Essex Street.

Windmill Lane Studios        
Understandably also known as the “U2 Studios”, as it was here they recorded their first EP,Three(1979) and the subsequent albums, Boy (1980), October (1981), War (1983), The Unforgettable Fire (1984) and The Joshua Tree (1987). The studios are located at 4 Windmill Lane, a street full of graffiti originally linked to the group; so much so that it is known as the U2 Graffiti Wall. It now features all kinds of street art. 4 Windmill Lane, Dublin 2.

Grand Canal Docks  
Dublin’s dockside is one of the city’s enclaves most closely related to U2 iconography. The setting, highly representative of the spirit of Dublin, has been used by the quartet throughout their career as a backdrop for their record covers (October), videos (Gloria) and photographic sessions (like one they had in 2000 with the Dutch photographer, Anton Corbijn. Hanover Quay.

The Clarence Hotel
In 1992, Bono and The Edge purchased The Clarence. Built in 1852, the originally 2-star hotel was revamped under their supervision, becoming one of the city’s most luxurious hotels. And, as the Irish singer asserts, “For The Edge to have somewhere to stay until later”, they turned the basement into The Kitchen, a disco which the leading lights of electronic music have made their port of call. 6-8 Wellington Quay.

Fitzwilliam Place
Bono once forgot Ali’s birthday. His wife was so upset she was on the verge of throwing him out. The singer made his apologies in the form of a song – The Sweetest Thing. Originally released as a B-side on the single, Where the Streets Have No Name, it later became the first single on the compilation album, The Best of 1980-1990. Recorded on 20 September 1998, the video moves along this central street of Dublin. The videos Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own and Pride (In the Name of Love) are also set in Dublin. Fitzwilliam Place.

Hanover Quay
After leaving Windmill Lane Studios, U2 set up their studios in Hanover Quay. Located in the harbour area, the complex comprises two buildings – one acts as a rehearsal space; the other, a recording studio and editing room. It was there that U2 developed their discs, Pop (1997), All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000), How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004) and No Line On The Horizon (2009). Interestingly enough, the Kilsaran Concrete cement factory located opposite the studios had a bench installed in their foyer for followers of the group to wait in comfort for their idols to appear. 18 Hanover Quay, Dublin 2.

Finnegan’s of Dalkey
Celebrated for its culinary offerings, Finnegan’s of Dalkey is Bono’s favourite pub. He is so fond of it that, whenever he gets a visit from a celebrity friend (Michelle Obama, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Salman Rushdie…), he takes them to this typical Irish pub for a pint of Guinness. It was opened by Dan Finnegan, one of whose seven sons, Peter Finnegan, emigrated to Valencia where, in the central Plaza de la Reina, he opened a twin Finnegan’s Of Dublin pub. 2 Sorrento Road.

St. Stephen’s Green
In 2000, Bono and The Edge were awarded the title, “Freeman of the City of Dublin”. Among the privileges that go with this honour, they were authorised to graze sheep on St. Stephen’s Green – no mean feat! The day after receiving the award, the singer and guitarist made an appearance in this popular park in the city centre flanked by two sheep, which they christened “My Little Lamb” and “Michael Jackson”. St. Stephen’s Green.

Wall Of Fame
The Wall Of Fame, a tribute to the leading names in Irish music, stands at 20 Temple Lane Street, one of the liveliest and most crowded streets in Dublin. The wall displays photos of Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, The Undertones, Bob Geldof, Boyzone… However, one shot which stands out above all of them and effectively steals the limelight shows the very young U2 band members on the beach at Sandymount Strand, another of their favourite spots. And, while you’re there, make sure you drop in at the historic Temple Bar with their live music every night and some delicious oysters. 20 Temple Lane South.

The Little Museum Of Dublin
Opposite St. Stephen’s Green and hard by Grafton Street stands The Little Museum Of Dublin, an art gallery which showcases Dublin’s modern history. Prominent among their permanent exhibitions is “U2 Made In Dublin”. Ranging from original posters from their earliest concerts, to a Trabant from the Zoo TV Tour era, this is one of the largest and best collections of objects related to the band, all of them gifted by the quartet’s fans. 15 St Stephen’s Green.

The company, Dublin Differently, offers guided tours of the most celebrated settings in the city, retracing U2’s career, from their studios to The Clarence Hotel. So, make haste! Come and discover a bit more about one of the best rock bands of all time. Check out our flights to Dublin here.


Text by Oriol Rodríguez for ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Matt McGee, Phil Romans, William Murphy, dronepicr

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