For nearly 50 years Monroe’s has been a pivotal landmark in Galway and its influence on the city’s social and music scene seems set to continue. By taking the plunge into expansion the business has transformed itself into a top music venue - a welcoming place where you can not only enjoy a fine pint and a delicious pizza, but also a night of great company and even better music.
There seems no end to the accolades piling up, with Monroe’s being voted Galway’s Best Pub - a stamp of approval given by the customers themselves - as well as being deemed Galway’s premier live venue. Priding itself on bringing live music to Galway seven nights a week since 1964, Monroe’s has changed and expanded over the years with the addition of the main stage area of Monroe’s Live and the more intimate Backstage at Monroe’s to the extremely popular tavern and adjoining function room where household names, up and coming musicians as well as numerous charity events are encouraged and supported. The popularity of this four-venue premises continues to rise, and part of that success is down to maintaining the core qualities of what made Monroe’s popular in the first place.
“We’re continuing on the tradition that was established in 1964 of live music seven nights a week. My parents, John and Margaret, came back from America and opened the pub which still maintains the core values, that of providing a venue which has great atmosphere, warm and friendly service, a place where everyone feels welcome,” said Gary Monroe who explained that he, along with his brother Robert, and Fergus McGinn make up the three-man team behind this successful business.
“We all work in partnership with each other, communicating and supporting each other to accomModate the upstairs and downstairs venues. From December 2009 we expanded to become a multi-venue, there are now four venues under one roof. We have every kind of music, from local acts to national and international names, from traditional, rock, pop, and cover bands. There’s nowhere else that offers more service, the whole range from A to Z,” said Mr Monroe.
At Monroe’s there is something for everyone - Monroe’s Tavern is renowned for its friendly staff and warm welcome and continues to provide a strong food, offering serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, and is famous for its breakfasts and pizzas. No matter what day of the week you will be sure to hear the sound of music emanating from the main bar area. The adjoining function room has also become known for its club nights with Disconauts, Gigantic, and 110th Street being just some of the acts entertaining the crowds.
Although Monroe’s has always been known for its live music it is the new Monroe’s Live and Backstage at Monroe’s that has made a massive impact on the social scene since its opening, easily filling a huge gap in the market and adding to Galway’s west end’s reputation as the place to go for live gigs. The new venues at Monroe’s have attracted big musicians and bands such as Sharon Shannon, Paddy Casey, Kanyu Tree, Kelvin Busher, Gerry Paul from Gráda, Steve Wickim (Waterboys fame ) who played with his other band No Crows for their album launch, Jamie Lawson, Jack L, and Damien Dempsey. Backstage At Monroe’s is also the venue for the A.M.P Sessions, which take place the first Wednesday of every month and are a forum for students as well as up and coming talents to cut their teeth. One of the success stories of the A.M.P Sessions is Fling, who have gone on to play gigs abroad and will soon launch their album at Monroe’s, the place where it all started. Backstage and the main live stage have also been the venues for world music, national and international musicians, as well as local acts such as Nuada, Magda Navarrete, Martina Flaherty, and Clannad’s Maura Brennan.
Many of the top acts that have performed at Monroe’s in the past have had nothing but praise, with Sharon Shannon describing it as “Ireland’s best venue”. Jack L said: “Finally, a proper venue in Galway”, while Damien Dempsey said: “The best atmosphere of any of my gigs in Galway”.
“Monroe’s encourages all types of music, album launches, and charity events. We’ve had unbelievable bands with low admission prices, some only €5. We believe in supporting music. About 90 per cent of the quality music is down in Galway’s west end between about three venues. There’s a great relationship between all the businesses down here. Since Monroe’s Live opened in December 2009 we now have about 100 gigs taking place every month. Some nights the whole building can have four gigs at the same time. You could be in the backstage section and stay on for the second show free with your admission, it’s good value. When the big shows finish it doesn’t just stop, there are often bands playing afterwards, so there are shows from 8.30pm right up to closing. We try to give good value for money and give people a night to remember.
“It is like an entertainment centre, a real melting pot of all different types of music. Everyone is welcome here, from the young to the older music lovers, there’s music here from traditional, to covers to world music. It is the music we support, we support the shows of the Galway Arts Festival, the Galway Sessions, and the Galway West End Street Party which was a great success. We cater for people’s needs when organising birthday and Christmas parties, and other celebrations. We organise the live music, the DJ, the finger food of three course meal, cocktail making/dance classes, and passes to the upstairs shows. We do our utmost for customers, and work with their budgets. And if people just want to relax with a nice glass of wine and have a pizza brought up to them from downstairs then that’s no problem either,” said Mr Monroe who is also proud of Monroe’s association with the newly elected president Michael D Higgins.
“Michael D has had a connection with Monroe’s for a long time - back in the 1980s his constituency office was where the pizza cabin is now. Monroe’s Live main stage held a fundraiser for Michael D back in September for which we organised about 14 different bands including Sharon Shannon, Micky Harte, Keywest, and Mary Coughlan. As well as the fundraiser, we also held a home-coming with music from the likes of Mairtin O’Connor, Sharon Shannon again, John Halloran, the Smyth clan - Sean, Breda, and Cora Smyth, Mark Roberts, Don Stiffe, and Mary McPartlan. Monroe’s was proud to be part of it,” he said.
As always, Monroe’s has many great gigs lined up for the coming weeks - this weekend sees Paddy Casey once again gracing the stage along with Oddity, Stephen James, and Eoin Glackin. On Thursday December 1, 90s’ boy-band sensation East 17 will be entertaining fans. The following night is dominated by Keywest, who will be launching their album, along with surprise support acts. Saturday December 3 will be the turn of top trad band Four Men and A Dog and on Friday December 9 Ham Sandwich will take to the stage along with support act Machine Gun Baby.
For a full gig listing log onto Monroe’s newly revamped website, www.monroes.ie, which not only gives information on the latest upcoming events and gigs but also ticket information, party bookings, as well as the galleries section which features some amazing pictures capturing the antics, dancing, and general fun being had by the many music lovers that flock to the venues night after night. The website also contains information on how to sign up to the Membership Club which offers plenty of special deals.
For more information email [email protected], phone 091 583397 or 087 9783245, or alternatively follow Monroe’s on Facebook and Twitter.