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Dundalk’s Spirit Store celebrated Its 10th Birthday on October 29th
Back in late October 1999 when Mark Dearey and his business partner of the time, Mark Mulholland, first launched Dundalk’s Spirit Store gigs happened in a tiny performance space capable of holding 63 souls which was, in effect, two upstairs bedrooms knocked into one. The Spirit Store had been a dockside pub owned by the Mee family but had been closed for a number of years. Mark Dearey’s vision was to re-open it as a place where live music could flourish. Derek Turner was recruited to take care of the sound and the venue’s reputation for caring about the sound was set in place from the first night it opened.

The first band to grace the stage were Lunasa and for the first few years the emphasis was firmly on folk and traditional music. While the thirst for good music was certainly evident it became clear that the venue needed to grow to survive. In late 2001 the venue was extended to accommodate an audience off 110 and with Mark Dearey increasingly caught up in the world of politics Derek Turner took over the booking of the venue as well as looking after live sound.

Occupying a central position in the local community the Spirit Store is known for more than just gigs. Many young musicians have made their live debuts at the Tall Poppy Club singer songwriter sessions, while there is a vibrant trad session every Sunday. With the local bird watchers taking up residence one a month and a weekly ’stitch and bitch’ session there is an all-inclusiveness about the place that has always reached out to more than the young and trendy.

Over the years the respect with which they are treated has created a loyalty to the venue which brings musicians back time and again even where they are capable of filling venues many times its size and in these rougher economic waters it is the venue’s unshaken commitment to great music that promises to see it though for a further 10 years.

Permalink - Posted: October 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm