Sober Sessions’ pilot event, a live music gig in Dublin City Centre, proves that having a good time does not necessarily have to involve drink.

Irish music, Irish pubs, Irish beer – these seem to be the first things that come to mind when one thinks of the Emerald Isle. While those who disagree with that automatic connection engage in endless debates on health and drinking, the country’s musical scene lacks the opportunities for non-drinking music lovers to have fun their own way.

Sober Sessions, a series of non-drinking events in the Irish capital organised by Áine Rynne, aim to change that picture. Impossible? Not for the niece of Christy Moore (the legend of Irish music publicly endorsed the initiative).

Sober audiences in Dublin might sound like an oxymoron to many Irish pub-goers. So how does one come up with such an idea? ‘It was kind of a personal journey’ – says Áine, the person behind Sober Sessions. ‘I gave up drinking in January 2013 and without the pub my social life started going down. Since then I have been to many concerts, live music gigs and festivals around Ireland and realised that there really is no alternative for non-drinkers. So I decided to go ahead and create a series of events for people like me, who would like to enjoy music without having a drink.’

Áine Rynne of Sober Sessions in Dulbin
Inni-K performs at the inaugural Sober Sessions
Are Sober Sessions an encouragement for abstinent lifestyle? ‘It is all about being moderate and finding the healthy balance. We are definitely not anti-drinking, we just provide people with a new option. Also, thanks to the fact that no alcohol will be sold at any of our events, they will be particularly family-friendly.’ Áine’s idea was certainly interesting enough for Fumbally Exchange to put her on their three-month high-potential start-up program.

It was in Fumbally Exchange that the Sober Sessions kicked off on the 8th of May. The live music gig featuring Stephen James and Inni-K was a huge success. The artists were visibly touched by the positive reaction of their sober audience. ‘It is very unusual for me as an artist to have an audience like you. I love the feeling of somebody actually listening to the words I’m singing.’ – Stephen James, a Dublin-based singer and songwriter, whose debut album will soon be on sale, was really impressed. Inni-K, indie-folk singer from County Kildare, could not agree more. ‘I feel honoured to perform here for you at this very first Sober Session. I hope that many more will come.’ And, judging by the enthusiastic reaction of attendees of all ages, they will.

The next Sober Sessions will include a range of family-friendly events, as well as live music gigs, Singles Nights and lunch-time theatre. Any long-term goals? Áine smiles modestly but one can tell she is already buzzing with new ideas. So, is Ireland in for its first non-drinking festival?


All images courtesy Sober Sessions


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