The Coronas: "Venues like Dolans are essential in building and developing Irish music acts"
Through the years we’ve had some amazing nights in Dolans.
From the buzz of our first ever gig there upstairs to about 30 people, to the feeling of selling out our first Warehouse. As the band continued to grow, Dolans accommodated bigger venues for us including the Milk Market and King Johns Castle but we would inevitably be back in the bar on the docks after, celebrating with the family.
I think that’s what makes the venue special. It’s the people. We’ve always felt part of the Dolans family, right from the early days. I’ll never forget the time I was so sick that we almost had to cancel the show in the Warehouse. Everyone was so good to me. A doctor was brought in to look after me and get me through the gig. And with a safety sick bucket on the ready at the side of stage (really!), I absolutely felt like I was being looked after by family not by work colleagues!
Venues like Dolans are essential in building and developing Irish music acts and we wanna wish them a happy 25th birthday. Fingers crossed you’ll be still booking the Coronas in another 25!
For me, Dolans has always been a place of welcome! Dolan’s have created a place where people have an immediate connection to people, music and craic. I have had many special moments there, whether in the audience at a brilliant gig, performing on stage, or in the front bar listening to music.
One of my best memories was the incredible session that unfolded when Paddy Casey and the Shannon Gospel Choir happened to be performing on the same night that I was hosting the Venezuelan Percussion Ensemble on their visit to Limerick.
We went in so they could hear some trad and three hours later, they were playing everything from tea pots to pint glasses, people were singing, musicians were coming out of everywhere. Just part and parcel of the kind of magic that can happen in Dolan’s.
It is so hard to quantify the impact that Dolans have made on the local and national music scene over the past 25 years. They support local musicians, independent artists, give you a space and a welcome and a platform that in other places would be nigh on impossible as a brand new, unknown person on the scene.
And they have raised the bar consistently – from small, homegrown gigs to big names like Sinead O’Connor and most recently the National.
They are a home for great music and they treat everyone the same. One thing I love and appreciate about being in Dolan’s – I know that I am treated with the same welcome, respect and kindness as someone who is considered a big name. They are working with the person, not the name, and that’s what makes the Dolan’s so brilliant.
Limerick is unusual – we’re a small city, but we have such a cross-section of art forms. Everything from theatre to classical music, a thriving musical society scene and countless choirs. Visual arts, dance, aerial, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Irish World Academy, the Belltable, the Limetree, Lyric FM!!!! and of course, Dolan’s. The role the arts plays here is in connecting people, and in giving us a platform to express ourselves meaningfully.
How to develop it further? Invest, support, evaluate, reflect, communicate, and network. And always support the young, new artist. Dolans are a key advocate of this.
As the Dolans team celebrate a quarter of a century in Limerick I want to thank them for giving us a stage, for giving us advice, for cheering us on, for giving us respect and for giving us a platform.
I remember when Mick and Valerie first arrived in Limerick and sitting in the front of the bar which was much smaller than it is today and getting excited listening their plans on bringing music to Limerick. The Dock Rd in Limerick was very different back then than it is today, and I think a lot of people thought that it was maybe too big a mountain to climb to achieve half the plans that they had. But they are brilliant business people and incredible hosts. Instantly the people of Limerick warmed to them both and with their wonderful charm and incredible passion for music they definitely turned on a light on the Dock Road and attracted people down to an amazing venue.
Dolan’s has had a very important role in supporting Irish and International acts. Music around the world has been taking a hammering over the last decade or so with the introduction of Spotify and various other platforms. In the past an act would release an album or four track single and get air play sell the album and that was how they made an income. The touring was important but more so now than ever.
Without a great venue there is no outlet for artists to play to an audience and generate revenue. Dolans not only opened their door to all types of acts but they made it a home for Irish artists in the mid west and supplied work for sound engineers and crews as well.
I wish Dolans a very happy 25th birthday and that they enjoy the celebrations. I always enjoy Mick and Valerie’s company. I’m looking forward to spending some time with them during the celebrations ‘cause I know ye will tear the arse out of it. Well deserved, if I could put a smiley face here I would!
I have photos of gigs I've been to in Dolans from before I ever even imagined starting a career in music - it's where I saw a lot of my musical heroes, Wallis Bird, Declan O'Rourke; I first saw Jack Lukeman there when he was still going as Jack L, never in a million years imagining I'd be a frequent feature on his nationwide tours a few years later. I remember getting the nudge to put on a show upstairs in Dolans in 2016, and being terrified of even calling Valerie Dolan to ask her about it - and when I did, I remember she was so encouraging and helpful throughout the planning process for my first ever CD launch.
And she's never really changed her tune! Whether it's my own gig, a support slot, or I'm running an event there, she's an absolute rock.
What a place, but more importantly what a team behind it. There's a lot of heart there, a lot of love for local artists.
Dolans have been the king and queen-makers in local music in a lot of ways. There's a real prestige to putting your show on there, it makes it "Limerick official", and the support they give to local artists in the lead up to a show and on the night itself is huge. They've also been the spot for Limerick musicians to meet Irish and international artists, which is so important. They're a common meeting point for artists, and having somewhere like that in your own city is what makes it "home".
From my own experience, when they welcomed me with open arms for my first show, that told me I was doing the right thing. If that's the way - and I think it is - that they welcome all their local and visiting acts, with that kindness, then they've quietly played a vital role in supporting and developing Irish music acts.
Limerick is a county bursting at the seams with creative energy and potential - there is always something going on, and that "something" might involve professional musicians, dancers, comedians and actors, visual artists, community groups, choirs. There's always something to go and see, or go and be part of, and that's a really special part of growing up here in Limerick. I'd love to see those things better advertised - we need to see more integrated thinking in the way our live events are promoted. The papers are a great place to look for upcoming gigs and events, but I'd love to see a dedicated fund for large-scale, visible advertising the city - digital billboards listing weekly events across all our venues. We also need to support our arts spaces like Ormston House and the Gaff, if we want to see creatives of all ages thrive, feel at home and stay on to work in Limerick, as outlined in the Limerick 2030 creative strategy.
Thank you for being like family, even if at times that means taking the piss out of me - that's what family is about, and that's what Limerick is about. Supporting each other, looking out for each other, taking on new challenges but not taking it all too seriously - having the craic while you're at it. Thanks for being such a big part of making Limerick my musical home.
THE RIPTIDE MOVEMENT
We've lots of fond memories of Dolan's down through the years, we played our first gig there in the upstairs back in 2009 and have been back a few times since.
Lots of late nights, rugby matches and staying up for the Conor McGregor title fight, we've had some legendary gigs in the warehouse.
For us its not so much the venue that brings us back -don't get me wrong it's a great venue but it's the Dolan's that bring us back, they're a lovely family and the staff are lovely too.
They always make you feel welcome, it kinda feels like you're calling around to your uncle or aunt's house for dinner and the food is great. Mick and Valerie will always drop in and join you for a chat and a pint before the gig.
We'd often have a pint with Mick, Neil & Jenny after the gig, they're a sound bunch and then we always have a lovely breakfast and a cup of tea the next morning in the front bar before we hit the road again, good times. (oh and them trad sessions are great too!!!)
Dolans plays a very important role in promoting music - a venue like Dolan's allows you to build an audience in the South West, you can start in the smaller upstairs venue and then build your audience until you can fill the warehouse and then when you fill that a few times you can play to a bigger audience in the Milk Market or King John's Castle.
Huge congrats guys on a fantastic venue and for supporting the Irish music scene the past 25 years, it's a great legacy you have forged already, roll on the next 25 and see you all soon.
-All the best, Mal, Jpr, Ger & Gar
Dolans is the great house of music in Limerick. My congratulations to Dolans for 25 years of enabling great music to be made, seen and heard in Limerick.
Dolans have given a platform to many so great soloists and bands, be it pop, folk, rock, blues, trad or otherwise thoughts the last 25 years, including myself!
There is always a buzzing atmosphere with amazing food and a great pint, friendly and easy going staff - it’s just a fun place to just hang out.
I’ve had many wonderful sessions before, during and after shows. I love the company of Mick Dolan just sitting and chatting about the past and present great musicians and of course who’s now coming up along that road.
Well done to Valerie and Mick Dolan and all the staff too. Looking forward to seeing you all again and the very best for the future.
The first show we ever sold out was Dolan’s . I remember this being a massive moment for us as a band. Only a few months before hand we had five people watching us upstairs and pretty sure four of them were on a guest list.
These moments are important for bands. Whether you were playing to five or 400 people in Dolan’s you were always treated the same. Fed well, watered well and treated well. That’s why after 25 years they are still so respected and loved.
I wish Dolans a very happy 25th birthday and will offer one piece of advice - don’t change a thing! When you have it you have it. A venue is not just a building and a PA. It’s the people who work and run it.
A sounder bunch you will rarely meet.
My memories of Dolans are only good ones. So many great comedy shows over the years. Comedians that now tour in arenas passed through Dolans. So many big names in comedy have been on the Dolans stage. My only regret is I didn't take more photos!
When any comedian starts , the key thing is getting stage time. For me I used to host the comedy in Dolans every week it was a huge part in my development. But many acts over the years took their first steps on a stage in Dolans. Dolans has been a huge part of the Irish comedy scene. So many of us owe a great debt to Dolans.
Congratulations on your twenty five years. I think every one in Limerick has passed through your doors at some stage. Often we'd pass by the Set Dancers or some team celebrating a victory. To get to the warehouse. There's always so much going on. There's now three main venues in Dolans. I've played five of them! Here's to the next twenty five!
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