U2 in Dublin

Searching for Ireland's Most Famous Rock Band in their Hometown

The Clarence - the Dublin hotel owned by members of U2, one early winter morning
© Bernd Biege 2016

U2 and Dublin sometimes seem to be synonymous because Bono and his bandmates are from the Irish city. In fact, they sometimes seem to be the only band from Dublin. And you have to admit, that if you were asked which rock band from Ireland has made the largest impact worldwide, who would you name? Horslips? Thin Lizzy? The Undertones? No, you too would think of U2.

Love them or loath them, the four lads from Dublin are still up there at the top. Bono Vox, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. are rock gods (plus Ireland's most successful tax-creatives) and all hail from Dublin's fine city. Many visitors go on a Bono-pilgrimage in Ireland's capital and hit the streets to find the shrines to their idols. Here is what you need to know if you want to discover where U2 are from.

The Birth of U2 at Mount Temple School

U2 was formed as a school project when a 14 year old Larry Mullen Jr. (drums) posted a note at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf (Dublin 3) looking for band members. Up stepped Paul Hewson ("Bono", vocals and ego), Dave Evans (The Edge, guitar, initially in a double-pack with his brother Dik), Adam Clayton (bass), and several others. The band started off as "Feedback", renaming itself "The Hype" (which, incidentally, would have been a very fitting name), and finally settled (after Dik Evans dropped out) on the short "U2".

Bono's Dublin Roots

As legend has it, schoolmate and now artist Guggi is the one who came up with the name "Bono Vox" for singer Paul Hewson. Even this nickname has its roots in Dublin. While this sounds a bit like "good voice" in Latin, it was actually derived from a Dublin Shop. The Bonavox hearing aid shop, to be precise. The shop which gave Bono his name is still open in his hometown. You'll find it just off O'Connell Street, in North Earl Street.

U2's First Gig on St. Stephen's Green

A plaque from the rather underwhelming "Rock'n'Stroll" in St. Stephen's Green marks the place where U2 played their first gig. In true Dublin fashion, the spot is just opposite the LUAS stop. Since that first fateful concert, The Edge and Bono have both been named Freeman of the City of Dublin - which means that they have the unique privilege of being allowed to keep sheep in the famous city park, should they so desire.

Where They Made Their Recordings - Windmill Lane

Situated just south of the Liffey in the Dublin Docklands, Windmill Lane is small but hard to miss - it is the most graffiti-covered area in Ireland, speaking volumes about the fans' devotion to the band. The street art pays homage to the band who recorded their first songs right here in Ireland's capital city.

Where They Filmed "The Sweetest Thing"

The video shot for U2 weepy "The Sweetest Thing" is their most Dublin video of all. Fans who have seen the music video will instantly recognize parts of Georgian Dublin in the background. The lyrics are supposedly an apology from Bono to his wife Ali Hewson for missing her birthday. In the video, he drives Ali along Fitzwilliam Place and on to Upper Fitzwilliam Street.

Where They Invested - The Clarence Hotel

Located on the southern bank of the Liffey, the Clarence Hotel has for many years been one of the most visible U2 connections in Dublin. Bono is no longer involved in the project but he used to be an investor in the luxury spot. Still, many fans (most of them Italian and Spanish) make a pilgrimage here. Enjoy a tea or cocktail, if you can afford it.

Where They Go Clubbing - Lillie's Bordello

The central Lillie's Bordello (1-2 Adam Court, just off Grafton Street) is one of the nightclubs where you might spot members of U2 hanging out. Provided you are yourself rich and/or famous enough to be allowed into the "private" sections of the club. And even then you have to be very lucky but it is one of the best places to see U2 band members hanging out in their hometown.

Where They Live - Dublin's Suburbs

Bono and the lads actually do still live in the Dublin area some of the time. We won't include the addresses, since even megastars like Bono deserve some room to breathe. However, you may very well see U2 members heading to the shop for milk if they aren't at their country estates for the weekend.

At the National Gallery of Ireland

Just a curio to finish the tour off in central Dublin - walk into the National Gallery of Ireland, make your way into the portrait section and you'll come face to (painted) face with Bono himself.

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