Lost In Music: Dublin’s record shops, 40 years on

Phone shops, hair salons, bookmakers, sushi bars and even a funeral home… time hasn’t been kind to Dublin’s old record stores.

As this fascinating Tweet from journalist and radio producer Ken Sweeney, taken from the Hot Press Yearbook 1979, shows, the Irish capital used to be teeming with record shops. Golden Discs, which somewhat aptly was ‘saved’ by the recent vinyl revival, had 11 outlets alone, while Dolphin Discs boasted five. A vinyl lover’s paradise, in other words.

But for every stalwart like Pat Egan’s Sound Cellar on Nassau St – which is still going strong – there are countless others whose fate chose a different path (including one, God forbid, that’s now a Starbucks).

With the help of Google Maps, 909originals looks at the businesses that now stand on the sites where Dublin’s youth would have snapped up the latest long players, four decades ago.

Liam Breen, 19 Lower Liffey St , now Kokoro Sushi & Bento. Try to explain sushi and bento to the record shop goer of 1979 and you might as well have tried to explain dubstep. A quite significant change for a site which also (correct me if I’m wrong) hosted Abbey Discs in later years…

Camelot, 97A Talbot Street, now GSM Workshop. From peddling Joy Division LPs to mobile phone repair. Oh well…

Caroline Records, 42 South Richmond St, now Blow Hair & Beauty Salon/One World Laundrette. We’re not sure who ‘Caroline’ is, but if she’s looking for a competitively-priced blow dry… [EDIT: Thanks to Noel Casey for pointing out that Caroline Records actually occupied the red-fronted building next door]

Dolphin Discs, 2a Talbot St, now Sunny Phone Centre. More mobile repairs here, but at least this one comes with a ‘sunny’ outlook.

Dolphin Discs, 164 Capel St, now demolished. The DJs at Pantibar across the road will need to go somewhere else for their vinyl fix…

Dolphin Discs, 22 Marlborough St, now Tech Fix. We’re not sure if they also repair record players, but that would be a happy irony…

Dolphin Discs, 3 Burgh Quay, now Stop & Shop – The Happy Shop. Independent newsagents in the city centre are also a dying breed, so we’ll give this one a pass…

Golden Discs, 29 Mary St, now Marks and Spencer. Mary Street was a vastly different place before the Jervis Centre monstrosity moved in…

Golden Discs, 8 North Earl St, now a Starbucks. Oh, the ignominy. No further comment…

Golden Discs, 45 Capel St, now Hilan Chinese Restaurant. Is there something about the smell of old vinyl that automatically screams Asian restaurant?

Hot Wax, 49 Meath St, now South West Inner City Network Youth Centre. The best-titled record shop in the 1979 list is now a youth community centre, where we hope a love of vinyl is being imbued in the next generation…

Murray’s, 71 George’s St Upper Dun Laoghaire, now Sheahans Funeral Home. When I depart this mortal coil, I would like to be surrounded by the ghosts of old 12-inches…

Murray’s, 3 Mary St, Dublin 1, now an Internet café. In a few years time, you can expect someone else to do a similar nostalgia trip about Dublin’s last Internet café…

Music World, 69 Phibsborough Road, now a Boyle Sports. I’ll give you odds of 16/1 this doesn’t reopen as a record store…

PJM Records, 23 Upper Ormond Quay, now Raymond Quinn Solicitors. Silence in the court! Stiff Little Fingers have a new EP out…

Record World, 32 Lower Camden St, now Douglas Interiors. According to the Hot Press listings, this place may not have had a phone back in 1979, but they might have known a bit about interior design…

[Screengrabs taken from Google Maps]

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33 thoughts on “Lost In Music: Dublin’s record shops, 40 years on

  1. The Caroline Record shop i remember is the red unit on the right of the picture … not the hair-salon ….

  2. That was a nice trip down Memory Lane… Thanks. My own favourite was probably Hector Value/Discount Sounds in Wexford Street over which the late John ‘George’ Byrne presided…

  3. There was a golden disk in upper Stephen St. I use to work in Danfay there and got most of my Bowie collection in that shop all on RCA

  4. A few missing… The Basement, Freebird (the original one) and of course Advance Records (what ever happened to Fred?

  5. The Ballad Of Fred Talbot

    In the darkest old days in Dublin Town
    When the youth were on fire and punk was going down
    A man with a vision came around
    And he brought us brand new sounds!
    He had a record shop off Stephen’s Green
    Outside the Dando, on South King Street
    That’s where all the kids would meet
    And the start of the 1980s

    Fred Talbot! Fred Talbot!
    The man that time forgot
    Fred Talbot! Fred Talbot
    And his infamous record shop!

    Advance Records was the place to be
    With ‘Del-Boy’ Fred and the social obscene
    He’d sell you almost anything
    And he’d done it all tax free!
    Up to Belfast on the Thursday train
    Collect the boxes and back down again
    The latest sounds just out today
    And he’d throw a few my way!

    Fred Talbot! Fred Talbot!
    The man that time forgot!
    Undocumented into history
    And his infamous record shop!

    Advance Records on a Saturday
    Was the place to be, it was anarchy
    The gangs all gathered at St Stephens Green
    And the chaos on Grafton St!
    Advance Records was the only place
    You could get the records, of the latest craze
    Skinheads, Punks, and Mods and Teds
    Would get their fix off Good Old Fred!

    From Throbbing Gristle to Cabaret Voltaire
    You couldn’t buy these records anywhere
    But Fred stocked Crass & The Jam in there
    And the price was always fair!
    Advance is dead, and the scene is gone
    But my memories of that time live on
    Now it’s documented in a Visions song
    To one of Dublin’s infamous sons!
    Fred Talbot R.I.P. died February 2017

    Deklan Dachau (C) 2018

    1. Hey Deklan,

      I’m Fred Talbots nephew. Thanks so much for your ballad, and your appreciation of Fred. He was a unique and special man, passionate shot music, knowledgable and very approachable. We ask in the family miss him, and it’s great to know that his enthusiasm and love for great artists was appreciated. Many thanks again, and I hope you’re keeping well!

    2. Hi Deklan!

      I’m Fred’s nephew, Kieran, and want to rush you for your wonderful ballad, and your appreciation of Fred. He certainly was unique, he loved music with a passion, he understood it to its core, and he loved speaking to and meeting music fans like yourself. In the family, we all miss him, and is really great to see that not only was he appreciated, but that his name will live on among music fans, like yourself!

      Thanks again,


  6. Can anyone remember a record shop on cork st opposite the coombe hospital mid seventies.no idea of the name

  7. The golden discs on Capel street was in the shop next door, 46 , the banba was in 45.

  8. Late 70’s early 80’s:

    Soundsaround near or between Carlton & Daybreak on O’Connell Street, Got my first Thin Lizzy album in this shop, I also got those flying saucer badges (2”) badges made here (The inner sleeves of Live And Dangerous album) at the back of the shop and I also got myself a few t-shirts!

    Golden Disc? At the corner straight across from Jack Nealon Capel Street. Got a lot of photography’s of Thin Lizzy in this shop, but was a very small shop to go into!

    Dolphin Records Capel Street (Across the road from Lenehans) never really got much here
    Murray Records Mary Street (Near J.P. Mullen & Sons) had a promotional sticker for the Budgie album If I Were Brittania I’d Waive The Rules on the wall that I badly wanted at the time, they also had the promotional poster for Thin Lizzy’s single Rosalie that I asked him for several times never got it but I do have the poster now!

    Golden Discs Henry Street: A guy that worked there was a big Pink Ployd fan!

    Early 80’s onwards:

    Base-X Abbey Court 28 Bachelors Walk. Moved to South Kings Street and then Cope street as Comet records.
    Brian is still trading on the internet but I heard recently that his warehouse was burnt down?

    Freebirds Above The Buss Stop Grafton Street, moved to Eden Quay (Day Break building, Downstairs), I actually gave up going to this shop, don’t know why but I just hated it and finally The Secret Book And Record Store on Wicklow Street after that I don’t know what happened to them!

    Borderline Records started in CIE Depot Strand Street moved across the road to the Abbey Mall (Liffey Street Lower), they moved twice in the same building moved again to Temple Bar area near to Rory’s Fishing And Tackle shop and finally settle on market stalls on Temple bar at the weekends

    Murray Records Grafton Street Arcade wasn’t in it much and the guy that worked there ended up in Murray’s on Wicklow Street and then changed the name to Rhythm Records on Crampton Quay plus another shop near or on Temple Bar

    Unknown name record shop Merrion Row that was across the street from O’Donoghue’s this shop did only back orders and only to deal with people that were into classic music etc, however my friend was still able to back order two Hawkwind albums from them and got them about two to three weeks later!

    Singles Bar – Hercourt Street Just sold 7” singles and what I remember only lasted a while!

    Finally Fred Talbot of Advance Records South Kings Street has someone else running the shop before he took over and while he seemed to be making more money at the time when he took over the shop it was a total mess and when he closed shop there he moved to a very small shop (Near Hogans) on Georges Street selling bootleg tapes of Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie!

    1. Briliant list!! That Merrion Row one was DiscFinder. Great too for jazz & blues (which I bought) and folk/trad (which I didn’t). I still have a bag from that shop in me ma’s gaff: a big black circle on a red background.
      One that wasn’t mentioned above was Harmony Records on the west side of O’Connell St, about halfway up. I bought the Police’s first LP there in early 1979.
      The lads (for they were mostly men) in the shops almost deserve their own thread: the one and only Tommy Tighe, Gareth in the Golden Discs on Henry St (sold me Unknown Pleasures), the Base X/Gorehound boys, George Murray in the Grafton Arcade Murray’s, Des & the fellahs in Freebird (one of the employees, a Bob Mould-esque guy with glasses, used to perform at Mad Eamon’s acoustic night in The Underground in the mid 80s and did a great version of “Could You Be The One”) and Pat Egan, who used to preside over his In Search Of Tape shop on, I think, Sth Anne St, before he moved on to bigger things.

  9. Can anyone remember the name of the Record Shop in The Irish Life Mall in the mid-1980s. They specialized in mostly 12″ Disco/ Funk/ Hi-Energy.

    1. You thinking of Beat records in the Abbey Mall? They were all about Disco & HiNRG 12’s.
      Started out in a small unit at the Abbey street entrance then moved almost opposite Abbey Discs in the mall (before Abbey moved to Liffey street).

  10. No mention there of Borderline or Comet in Temple Bar. Or for that matter, the Virgin Megastore. Oh the hours I spent in them in the 90’s, not much money as I didn’t have much. I used to buy my music in the Record Sleeve in Navan in the 80’s, they would order the albums for you and allow you to pay for them on lay-away – the only way I could afford the likes of ‘The Head on the Door’ and ‘Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me’ on my pocket money!

    1. Great memories and some really brilliant interesting posts , one that seems to have been forgotten was the record lending library somewhere off Grafton street , I used to love it there , you could actually rent an album for like a pound for a week … I usually ended up buying them because some where very rare !

  11. My vinyl needs in the late 70s were met by an Asian guy running a stall in the dandelion, cheapest records in Dublin! It was right beside a stall selling condoms so we’d buy a few to produce in the pub to underline our manliness. Sadly never got to use them😭

  12. Worked in fennings record shop parnell Street other shop in dunlaoighre and one near city Quay I think 60s

  13. You have to go back much further for a full history .
    Frank Fenning (Fennings for Records), he had a number of shops around the City. Joe Sage, in liffey St. Liam Breen, firstly in Wood Quay selling second hand records.

  14. There was a record shop on Cathal Brugha St in the mid 1970s. Managed by a a guy called John Martin who also wrote about football in the Indo or Press ?
    I was a prog fan but on his recommendation I bought the Clash’s first album. I brought it home, put it on and hated it…..but after a few plays I got to like it. Great article.

  15. Caroline records is the red shop beside the laundrette! if you look through the glass you might still see some tape racks there. Also Abbey discs was just inside the abbey mall on the other side of the street.

  16. In 1979 I worked in Harmony Records in O’Connell Street. At the time, they had two store’s, one upper O’Connell Street, the first and major store just up from the GPO. As a lover of music. I had landed my dream job. Sadly. I left it and moved to Australia in 1980. The store is long gone. I’m interested if anyone can recall the store??

  17. Freebird Grafton St, O’Connell Bridge, Wicklow St; Comet’s two locations in Temple Bar; Murray’s Grafton St, Wicklow St; Advance; Basement X; Borderline; Rhythm; Virgin; HMV; Golden Discs Grafton St; Hot Wax Rathmines; Music City Rathmines and Dunlaoghaire; Smile George’s St; Mac’s Records George’s St arcade, Aungier St and Bray; There was also a makeshift arcade on Grafton St near Harry St that had a record shop on the top floor; Freak Out S William St; There was a record shop near the Kilkenny Design centre on Nassau St that was taken over by Reades at some point.

  18. There was also a shop above the Merchant Barber at Merchants Arch that sold bootleg tapes and records. It was set on fire.

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