GOLFER Rory McIlroy led the charge to the front as thousands of people lapped up the atmosphere on Arthur's Day.
The 24-year-old was soaking up the atmosphere and see Irish band The Script wow the crowds at well-known music haunt Whelan's. The sporting star emerged from his chauffeur driven car 15 minutes before the band took to the stage, and attended the sold out ticketed gig with a few friends. He breezed past onlookers and was escorted into the building by a team of handlers.
More than 500 free music events took place around Ireland last night and punters descended on pubs in their droves to enjoy the festivities on Arthur's Day.
Balladeer Christy Moore described it as an 'alcoholiday' in a new song and drinks giant Diageo was compelled to insist that it promoted responsible drinking.
However, despite the controversy, thousands of punters still flocked to pubs and bars -- many simply drawn by the allure of great artists performing in intimate venues.
Award-winning Emeli Sande, The Manic Street Preachers, American singer Janelle Monae, Dublin-based band Kodaline and Scottish rock act Biffy Clyro were among the headline performers on the night.
The element of surprise is a key factor when it comes to Arthur's Day and revellers were far from disappointed when Sande, who helped open and close the London Olympic Games in 2012, put on an intimate set at Paddy Cullen's pub in Dublin's Ballsbridge, to perform for just 300 people as they flocked to the venue after work.
While she later played at popular bar Dakota, Sande delighted locals when she showed up unannounced in Paddy Cullen's to belt out some of her hits, which include 'Next To Me', 'Read All About It' and 'Circus'. For those who couldn't find a spot inside, 30 television screens were put up around the building.
Publican Niall Lawless told the Irish Independent: "I signed a confidentiality agreement back in August, so I did know I was getting a big star, but never found out who until the day itself," he said.
"I couldn't even tell my wife Lisa, it was a killer. I had the bathrooms all painted, my office cleaned out and cleaned the place from top to bottom. The staff thought I was going crazy. But it was worth it, she was fabulous. "Her entourage all had a Guinness, but she just had a taste."
Friends Sandra Murphy and Naomi Tarrant couldn't believe their luck when Sande walked out onto the small stage. "We literally ran out the door of work at 5pm," Ms Murphy said.
By Laura Butler