American Religious Sounds Project

Dublin Irish Festival - U2charist - music


The Dublin Irish Festival is a three-day Irish music and culture festival that attracts performers from all over the world, and visitors from Columbus and beyond. The festival is held annually in early August in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Ohio. On Sunday, the last day, admission is waived in the morning; visitors may donate canned goods to the festival’s food drive and attend worship services before staying for the afternoon’s music. The Dublin Irish Festival is not religiously affiliated. The services are sponsored by local religious communities whose regular congregants mix with festival-goers, and some independent clergy. These congregations see the Festival as an opportunity to do outreach.


These worship services are sponsored by a variety of religious communities from Dublin and central Ohio. While most are Christian, they still include a wide variety of practices: a Catholic Mass said in Irish; a non-denominational service led by a pastor and praise team; U2charist, an Episcopal service using spiritually inflected songs by the Irish band U2 as hymns, and others. A local Druid community holds their celebration of Lughnassad, the late summer/early harvest Pagan holy day, at the festival. Beginning at 10 or 10:30 in the morning, these religious celebrations are scattered among the festival stages in Coffman Park. Some are audible across the grounds. (Caroline Toy)


In this clip, the Episcopal U2charist service closes with the song “Where the Streets Have No Name,” led by a live band. The “U2charist” is a ritual reenactment of U2 shows as Eucharist. These services structure the liturgy around U2 songs that are either played from one of their albums, sung collectively by the congregation, with the lyrics projected on a screen, or performed by a live band (or some combination of the three). The idea for U2charist services came from Sarah Dylan Breuer, a graduate of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who also contributed several essays to the 2003 volume Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog. In April 2004, Breuer organized a U2charist service at an Episcopal church in Baltimore. The following year, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland held a U2charist service at its October conference. And the year after that, Reverend Paige Blair officiated at a U2charist service at St. George’s Episcopal Church. By 2006, the U2charist movement had garnered national media attention in the United States, when the ABC Nightline program reported on a service at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Briarcliff, New York. It was the second time the church had hosted a U2charist service, and the rector described how it drew new people to the congregation; at the first service, he did not recognize 70 percent of the people in the pews. The Nightline segment shows him telling the congregation that Bono lives out his faith better than most Christians do. And it cites the $1,700 donated during the service for poverty relief. U2charist services had quickly become a trend and were being held throughout the world, including in Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, and the UK. (This paragraph is excerpted, with permission, from Chad E. Seales, Religion Around Bono: Evangelical Enchantments and Neoliberal Capitalism [Penn State University Press, 2019], 66)

Dublin Irish Festival - U2charist - music
St. Patrick's Episcopal Church
Coffman Park
City / State
Dublin, OH
Erin Allen
Recorded On
Religious Tradition
Christian (Protestant)
Types of Sounds
amplified, drums, festival, instruments, multiple voices, singing, worship service
Types of Space
green space, outdoors
Research Team
Ohio State
Day of Week
Time of Day
Rev. Stephen Smith (right), rector of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, and other musicians perform during U2Charist, an Episcopal worship service set to the music of Irish rock band U2, at the annual Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, OH. Photo by Erin Allen
Dublin Irish Festival - U2charist - music
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