Windmill Lane Studios

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Windmill Lane Studios
Windmill Lane Studio.jpg
Windmill Lane Studios is known for its graffiti (pictured above in 2008).
Alternative names U2 studio
General information
Type Recording studio
Location Ringsend, Dublin, Ireland
Address Ringsend, Dublín 4
Coordinates 53°20′45″N 6°14′45″W / 53.3457°N 6.2458°W / 53.3457; -6.2458Coordinates: 53°20′45″N 6°14′45″W / 53.3457°N 6.2458°W / 53.3457; -6.2458
Current tenants Van Morrison
Construction started 1978
Owner Pulse Recording College

Windmill Lane Studios, also known as the "U2 studio",[1] is a three-storey[2] music recording studio located in Dublin, Ireland. It was opened in 1978 by Brian Masterson who is a company director and head engineer. Criticism was expressed amongst local activists at proposed plans to turn the old building into a six-storey office block. In 2009, Pulse College took ownership of the studios.[3] Although the actual studios have moved elsewhere, the original location is still a popular cult symbol and is regularly visited by tourists from Ireland and other countries. Windmill Lane Studios, with the exception of Open Gallery 3, was demolished on 3 April 2015. A 20-metre section of the graffiti wall has been kept although a final decision on where it will be moved to has not been made.


Windmill Lane in Dublin in September 1994. The studios are on the left. On the near left, a fan has written out in blue on the pavement the lyrics to the U2 song "One".

Windmill Lane Studios was first located in the Dublin Docklands. It was originally used to record traditional Irish music, notably by Planxty,[4]:262–267 but no rock band recorded in the studios until U2.[5] Other bands, such as Thin Lizzy or The Boomtown Rats, went to London or further to record their albums.[5] The drums on Boy were recorded in the reception area of the recording studios, due to producer Steve Lillywhite's desire to achieve "this wonderful clattery sound".[5] They had to wait until the receptionist went home in the evenings as the phone rang through the day and even occasionally in the evening.[5]

After U2 came here, Van Morrison, Sinéad O'Connor, Elvis Costello recorded at the studios. Clannad's hit "Theme from Harry's Game" was recorded at the studios; this song propelled the band and their singer Moya Brennan into international territories. Status Quo recorded two albums here in 1980, during a tax year away from the UK; Just Supposin' and Never Too Late, released in 1981.

The studios were expanded in the 1980s under the supervision of Andy Munro of Munro Acoustics. Much of the work was done specifically for U2's album The Joshua Tree. Patrick Street also recorded the album Irish Times there, in 1990.[6]

The original building in Windmill Lane (53° 20′ 44.9″ N, 6° 14′ 44.7″ W) housed Windmill Lane Pictures[7] (a video post-production facility), incorporating Number 4 (an audio post-production facility), Trend Studios (audio mastering) and a number of other related services. The place is covered in graffiti from fans who have paid pilgrimage from all over the world, many attracted by the studio's historical connection with U2.[1][2]

The Windmill Lane site was bought by property companies Hibernia Reit in 2015. It will be developed into offices, retail spaces and residential units, and is expected to be completed in 2017.[8]

Windmill Lane Studios has not been located on Windmill Lane for quite some time and the current facility was originally Ringsend Studios in Ringsend, Dublin 4.[1] Plans to construct a six-storey office block on the old site led to criticism from local resident groups in early September 2008.[7]

The studio remained empty from 2006 onwards, although reports circulated which linked Van Morrison with purchasing the studio for his own personal use that August.[1][9] Morrison had previously recorded several albums there, including Back on Top, Magic Time and Pay the Devil.[9] In January 2008, the studio was used to record "The Ballad of Ronnie Drew".[10] In 2009, Pulse College took over Windmill Lane and renovated the studios which are internationally perceived as being at the heart of the Irish recording industry. The multimedia college has transformed the facilities with state-of-the-art equipment which encompasses not only 3 fully equipped recording studios, but also a creative hub for Digital Media Training in areas of Music Production, Film Production and Game Analysis and Design.[11]

Recording artists and facilities[edit]

The soundtracks to numerous films have been recorded at Windmill Lane Studios. These include A Room with a View, The Remains of the Day, The Mask and The Tailor of Panama.[1] As well, studio one saw the recording of The Grifters, My Left Foot, (both by Elmer Bernstein), and A River Runs Through It.[1]

The posthouse at Windmill Lane became the first building in Ireland to buy a Baselight colour grading system on 2 April 2008.[12] The posthouse has been used for several films, including In America and Get Rich and Die Tryin' directed by Jim Sheridan, and has been used for American films made in Ireland, examples of which include King Arthur and Veronica Guerin.[12]

Studio one is the only known room in Ireland where an eighty-piece orchestra may record their music apart from Radio Telefís Éireann.[1] Brian Eno and Michael Nyman have all played the Steinway grand piano located in the corner of this studio.[1] Famous producers to have used studio one include Stephen Street, Geoff Emerick, Nellee Hooper, Trevor Horn, Flood and Don Was.[1] Elvis Costello recorded Spike there.[1] U2 also recorded their first three albums at Windmill Lane, the Steve Lillywhite masterminded Boy and War, as well as the Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois collaboration, The Joshua Tree.[1]

Studio two is known for being responsible for a high amount of number one albums, recorded by artists such as Gabrielle, Kylie Minogue and The Spice Girls.[1] Kate Bush partially recorded her 1985 album Hounds of Love at Windmill Lane Studios.[1] The Waterboys recorded their 1988 album Fisherman's Blues at Windmill Lane Studios.[1]

Juniper began recording their first album there in 1999 but soon split.[13] The song "Volcano", recorded here, was seen as the reason for disagreements between Damien Rice and his bandmembers, the future Bell X1.[14] The Tides, winners of 2008's ATL's Rock School event, recorded an album in Windmill Lane Studios.[15] New Order, R.E.M. the Rolling Stones and The Corrs have also recorded material at the studio.[16]

Windmill Lane Studios was demolished on 3 April 2015, with the exception of Open Gallery 3 where U2 recorded, by property investment company Hibernia REIT who announced in 2014 that it had purchased the loans held against the Hanover Building on Windmill Lane, Dublin, for €20.16 million and an adjoining one acre development site for €7.5 million. Hibernia REIT announced plans to retain a 20-metre stretch of the studio wall famous for its fan graffiti. Options for the future of the wall include recreating the wall in the atrium of the new Windmill Lane building, giving the wall to Dublin City Council, U2 or any other interested party for reconstruction or reuse in an alternative setting. Another possibility is donating the wall to a charity so that they can auction pieces of it to U2 fans around the world.


Windmill Lane Studios is globally recognised for its connection to internationally recognised artists of Irish extraction such as U2, Sinéad O'Connor, Liam Clancy, The Corrs, and Clannad, whilst Van Morrison acquired it for his own personal use in 2006. Juniper, the band which later became Bell X1 and Damien Rice, recorded some of their musical material on location at the studios during their brief existence in the 1990s, including the song which eventually divided them creatively.

The Clannad song, "Theme from Harry's Game", which went on to chart in the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as in the band's native Ireland, was originally recorded at Windmill Lane Studios. International artists have also made use of Windmill Lane Studios; these include the Rolling Stones, Status Quo, Kate Bush, Kylie Minogue, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, The Waterboys and The Spice Girls.

Albums to have been fully or partially recorded at Windmill Lane Studios include Boy, War and The Joshua Tree by U2, Back on Top, Magic Time and Pay the Devil by Van Morrison, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, Hysteria by Def Leppard, Fisherman's Blues by The Waterboys, and Spike by Elvis Costello. Renowned producers such as Steve Lillywhite, Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Stephen Street, Geoff Emerick, Nellee Hooper, Trevor Horn, Flood and Don Was have made extensive use of the facilities at Windmill Lane Studios.

Orchestras would regularly record their music there as it is one of the larger locations in Ireland to do this. Windmill Lane Studios have been recommended as a tourist attraction by publications such as The New York Times.[2] Many people are attracted by the significant amounts of graffiti left as a tribute to acts such as U2 and some even add to it themselves when they visit the site.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Ghostly echoes as U2 studio is revived". The Irish Times. 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2009-06-20.  Another copy of this article is located here.
  2. ^ a b c Lenker, George (2008-07-13). "36 Hours in Dublin". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Pulse calls for state funding for industry-focused private colleges". Irish Examiner. 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  4. ^ O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 0-340-83796-9. 
  5. ^ a b c d "U2's producer reveals studio secrets". BBC. 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  6. ^ Sleeve notes from Irish Times, Patrick Street, Special Delivery Records SPD 1033, 1990.
  7. ^ a b "Seven-storey scheme for SCR Windmill Lane plan appealed". The Irish Times. 2008-09-04. Retrieved 2009-06-20. A new plan for the former Windmill Lane studio off Sir John Rogersons Quay has provoked criticism from local resident groups. Plans for a six-storey office on the site are excessively high and poorly thought out, says Creighton Street Residents Association, one of 15 parties to object to the scheme. The site is home to Windmill Lane Pictures Ltd and formerly housed the studios where U2 recorded their early albums. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "Van Morrison buys Windmill Lane Studios". Hot Press. 2006-08-11. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  10. ^ Richie Taylor (2008-01-18). "Cream of Irish music in tribute to Dubliner as he battles with cancer". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  11. ^ Pulse College
  12. ^ a b "Baselight for Windmill Lane". 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  13. ^ "Kurzprofil Bell X1". Accessed 20 June 2009.
  14. ^ Matthew Magee (2002-02-03). "THAT'S RICE". Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  15. ^ "Album Review-The Tides". BBC. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  16. ^ "Pulse calls for state funding for industry-focused private colleges". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 

External links[edit]