Studio Profile: Grouse Lodge, County Westmeath, Ireland

We talk to Grouse Lodge Studios located near the picturesque village of Rosemount in County Westmeath, Ireland.

How long have you been running and why was your space set up?

Set on a 300-year-old farmstead in the middle of Ireland, Grouse Lodge Recording Studios opened in 2002. It was designed to fill the much needed requirement for a world-class residential recording studio, of which there were previously none in Ireland. Before Grouse Lodge opened its doors, there was no recording studio of its kind in Ireland.

Who helped you build, tune or upgrade your space?

Owner and co-founder Paddy Dunning sought the expertise of renowned acoustician Andy Munroe and his team to design the studio. They utilised some of the existing structures on the farm, while also extending it with purpose-built rooms. This has made for a blend of ancient stone walls along with surfaces made from modern materials – a blend of old and new.

What artists, presenters or other creators pass through your doors?

Many well-known artists and producers have crossed the threshold at Grouse Lodge and have recorded some fabulous and best-selling number 1 albums here. Some artists include: Snow Patrol, REM, Bonnie Rait, Will-i-am, Westlife, Little Simz, Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Oscar-winning artist Glen Hansard, to name but only a few!

More recent artists who have worked here include Dermot Kennedy, Paolo Nutini, Sinéad O’Connor, and Sam Fender, who recorded his critically-acclaimed album ‘Seventeen Going Under’ here.

Producers who have worked here include InFlo, William Orbit, Jacknife Lee, Ryan Hewitt, Ethan Johns, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Ken Nelson Mike Crossey, Rich Costey, and ten time Grammy winning producer Joe Chiccarelli.

We’ve had clients work on movie projects here, for films ranging from Spider Man, to Oscar-nominated Irish animation Wolfwakers. We have facilitated orchestras, classical ensembles and Irish traditional music recording sessions.

What’s your USP as a studio based on feedback from artists and completed sessions?

Grouse Lodge is in the middle of the Irish countryside, and is only just over 1 hour from Dublin airport. On top of the world-class recording studio, we have a spa, which includes a jacuzzi, sauna, and swimming pool. A gym is available for use on site. If clients are looking for activities, we offer horse riding, table tennis, nature walks, archery and more. We have a cinema room with a projector for watching TV and movies.

Last but not least we have an on-site bar with Guinness and Carlsberg taps. The Guinness has been confirmed as one of the best pints of Guinness in the world by members of the Guinness family who live nearby!

Claire, our chef, is passionate about making meals with locally sourced and organic ingredients. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can usually find her in her veggie garden, digging up potatoes, planting seedlings, and trussing tomato plants. Her “field to fork” ethos is seen on the dining room table – the salad greens are usually grown metres away from the table (along with the odd caterpillar!), and the eggs at breakfast are laid by the chickens who roam the yard. What can’t be grown on site, is usually organic and locally sourced.

We pride ourselves in the atmosphere and the vibe that we can cultivate here. It’s conducive to creativity, and helps artists to relax and perform at their best. Spiritual gurus have even confirmed that the recording studio is situated on several lay lines and positive energy lanes!

Who’s on the team?

Paddy and Claire Dunning who found the facility in 1999 and refurbished the 300 year old estate to high standards.

Paddy runs several other companies such as The National Wax Museum, The Button Factory music venue, Sun Studios in Dublin and is currently working on an amazing new project called The Giant which will be coming to 22 major cities around the world in the next year or so.

Alex Borwick is our head engineer. Originally from New Zealand, Alex is a producer and multi-instrumentalist. He has been a musician his entire life, playing in a variety of genres and touring the world in various bands, which lends a strong sense of musicality in his studio work. Alex fell in love with music production and engineering after relocating to Ireland, and hasn’t looked back since. He has worked with artists such as George Clinton (Parliament Funkadelic), Sam Fender, Ellie Goulding, Catfish & The Bottlemen, James Vincent McMorrow, and Martin Hayes. Alex produced and recorded the critically-acclaimed debut album ‘Hemet’ by artist Niamh Regan, which was nominated for ‘Best Album’ at the RTÉ Folk Awards and ‘Album Of The Year’ at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize.

Our other engineer is Thomas Donoghue, who has a blossoming career in live sound. Thomas is the front of house engineer for Villagers, and has worked with other Irish artists such as The Coronas, Gavin James, and The Academic.

Eavan Crowe is our studio manager who coordinates all the recording sessions. Having studied sound engineering and completed a music management and production degree she has been with us for the past 17 years or so and continues to love working in Grouse and the music industry!

Hospitality heads include AnneMarie who’s been with us a long time also, she runs a tight ship and enjoys the banter with the bands! We also have Maxine who maintains the high standards which Grouse Lodge has become known for. Their down to earth approach makes the bands feel at home and at ease from first arrival.

Bernard is our grounds manager which is a non stop job keeping up with the maintenance of the entire complex.

Studios have experienced massive change in the last few years and there’s many different types – where do you fit in?

We facilitate an environment for clients who want to escape modern life and immerse themselves in nature alongside modern music technology. As recording technology develops at breakneck speed, allowing people to do more with less, we have curated an environment to help artists “un-plug” and immerse themselves in inspirational surroundings, to help them focus on their creativity.

We provide an alternative to city-based recording studios, where people are often crammed into small spaces with limited daylight. The expansive grounds at Grouse Lodge means that people can go for a stroll when they’re not needed in the studio, or if they need time to focus on their art without the distractions usually found in large, cosmopolitan cities.

Due to the size of the grounds, we have several extra rooms that can be set up as writing/production spaces, which means that there can be multiple teams working uninterrupted simultaneously. We’ve had sessions where bands have been rotating between three different recording rigs daily! The size of the main live room also allows for tour rehearsals and pre-production for artists who are about to go on the road, with space for the whole crew.

How would you describe the overall vibe of the studio and what’s the balance between creating a great sound vs a great vibe – can they exist hand in hand without compromise?

Yes, they can absolutely exist hand in hand. Bands are always surprised by the amount of work they get done here, while being able to relax and enjoy the surroundings. They’re usually ahead of schedule before they leave! Bands leave rejuvenated.

Andy Munro’s acoustic treatment has allowed us to keep the rooms large and open, while still controllable as a recording environment. A day’s work at Grouse Lodge never feels difficult or tedious!

The natural daylight throughout the studio offers an environment conducive to productivity. The studio is full of good quality lighting, Moroccan rugs and comfortable seating, which all contributes to the ambience. Musicians can be watching cows and sheep walk by the window while they’re recording! The other animals on the grounds such as chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats add to the vibe.

How do you feel about remote collaboration in your studio with apps such as Audiomovers, do you embrace it or does it change the magic in the room?

We fully embrace it – it’s opened up the doors for international collaboration! For example, it allows us to have a team in recording a movie soundtrack, while the director sitting in LA listens to a high-quality uncompressed audio stream, and the composer could be listening in from Paris. We’ve had writing camps here where teams can be working on a song together, with input from writers and top-liners in other parts of the world.

The recording industry was already embracing and utilising remote collaboration, however the Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked this way of working even more, to the point where it’s become commonplace to run a session with contributors sitting anywhere in the world. When artists are at Grouse Lodge they can be collaborating with members of the team who are currently in other parts of the world.

Having said all this, it can take a bit more work to get a vibe going when people are trying to be creative remotely. Nothing beats being in the same room!

Can you share a list of the gear you have and the room types and dimensions?

 The main studio is purpose built integrating the existing 275 year old stone structure and features a huge control room (900sq.ft) with lots of natural daylight and two large live rooms with superb acoustics. The extensive use of local cut stone gives the space a unique feel and sound. Studio One features a giant Neve VR60 mixing console with flying faders, and its large live room, booths and control room has been host to A-list of international and Irish acts over the years.

  • Live room 35ft x 32ft
  • Stone room 25.5ft x 13.5ft
  • Control room 28ft x 28ft

Full Equipment List:


●      VK Audio Neve 1076 x 2

●      API 3124+

●      Empirical Labs Distressor EL8-X Matched Pair

●      GML 8200 Stereo EQ

●      Manley Variable MU Stereo Compressor

●      Tubetech LCA2B Stereo Valve Compressor/Limiter

●      Universal Audio 1176

●      Urei 1176 Blackface Compressor/Limiter

●      Summit TLA100A Valve Compressor/Limiter

●      Oram Sonicomp 2 Stereo Compressor

●      DBX 160SL x 2

●      DBX 160X x 2

●      Roland Space Echo RE-201

●      TC Electronics System 6000

●      Yamaha SPX 900

●      BEL BD80 Delay

●      Lexicon PCM80

●      TC Electronics M5000

●      Roland SDD-3000

●      Roland JV-1080

●      HHB CDR-850


●      Avid

●      Waves

●      Soundtoys

●      Celemony Melodyne

●      Antares Autotune

●      ValhallaDSP

●      Fabfilter


●      Ampeg SVT-VR with SVT810

●      Fender Twin Reverb

●      Vox AC-30

●      Peavey Classic 30 Head, Peavey 212 Cab

●      Trace Elliot Brat

●      Yamaha Grand Piano

●      Challen Upright Piano

●      Hammond Organ K Series (Similar to BC)

●      Leslie 147 Speaker

●      DW Collectors Edition Maple Specialty Satin

●      Kick 22×20

●      Rack Toms 10”, 12”, 14”

●      Floor Tom 16”

●      Yamaha Birch Custom Absolute 14″ Snare

●      Gibraltar Hardware Boom Stands x 6

●      Kick Pedal x 1

●      Tom Clamps


●      BSS AR116 x2

●      Radial J48 x 4

●      Demeter VTDB-2B Tube DI

●      Radial X-Amp Reamp box

●      IMG Stage Line DIB-100 x 2

●      4 x Triton Audio Fethead

Cue Systems

Mytek Private Q (5)



●      AKG C12 (vintage)

●      AKG C414 x2

●      AKG c3000

●      AKG D112 x2

●      AKG D1200E

●      AKG Solidtube x2

●      Barkley Infinity Gen2 x2

●      Beyerdynamic m380

●      Beyerdynamic M69

●      Beyerdynamic M88

●      Brauner VM1 Valve x2

●      Calrec CB21

●      Coles 4038 x2

●      Electro Voice RE-20

●      Lomo 82A-5M X 2

●      Neumann FET 47 x2

●      Neumann U87ai x2

●      Neumann KM 84 x2

●      Neumann TLM 170 x2

●      Neumann TLM 193 x2

●      Octava MK-012 x2

●      PZM Realistic

●      Reslosound Ribbon x2

●      Rode k2

●      Royer R121 x2

●      Sennheiser 421 x4

●      Shure Beta 52

●      Shure SM 7b

●      Shure SM 57 x7

●      Shure SM 58 x2

●      Unidyne III S45 SD

●      Yamaha NS10 Driver x2


●      Dynaudio M4S Main Monitor System (Monroe Design)

●      Genelec 1031A

●      MC2/Dynaudio Amps, XTA Processors

●      Yamaha NS10

●      Auratone Mixcubes


●      Sennheiser HD 25’s

●      Audio Technica ATH-M50’s

●      Sennheiser  Hd 280 PRO’s

●      Ultrasone PRO 550’s

HD Recorders

●      2019 Mac Pro

●      12-core 3.3GHz processor, 48GB RAM

●      Pro Tools Ultimate

●      Pro Tools HDX (48 In / 56 Out)

●      Antelope Audio Orion 32HD x 2


Can artists stay at your studio and if so what’s the set up?

Grouse Lodge is famous for its Irish welcome, and our staff aim to give artists the best experience, and to make them feel completely at home.

It’s practically a requirement that artists stay with us! We have an array of 9 bedrooms plus extra beds, spread out over the farm, so that artists can live and breathe their project while they’re here recording with us. You can have a dip in the pool first thing in the morning, before taking a shower and then having a cooked breakfast from Claire in the dining room. Claire puts food on the table three times a day while you’re here, so no one ever goes hungry, and no one ever has to think about running down to the shop to get sandwiches for lunch. Besides, you’d have a hard time getting Deliveroo to deliver out this far!

Talk us through your rooms and why they are designed in the way they are.

The bedrooms are all individually designed. Our hospitality manager Anne Marie is very attentive to cleanliness and our beds have top quality 5 star linen to ensure that artists get a deep sleep when they’re here. There’s no traffic nearby so people wake up naturally to the sound of silence in the Irish countryside.

The control room alone is larger than most small recording studios. This gives artists a room to spread out and make the studio their own while they’re working here. The sheer amount of windows are designed to let in as much light as possible, so you always know what time of day it is and what the weather’s doing, even while doing the most tedious drum editing!

The main live room is the size of a small church, and drums sound incredible in it. It’s large enough to fit a medium sized orchestra. We have a vocal booth attached to this, as well as a second live room, called the stone room. The stone room is one of the original barns on the farm, and as you’ve guessed the walls are made of stone! This means that it has a very different acoustic to the main live room, giving an option for different sounds.

Muse even used the pool to get a good sounds and made the poor drummer play in the pool

What’s your dream recording project or client?

For us, Grouse Lodge comes into its element when hosting multi-faceted projects. We love when the facilities are being utilised to their full extent, with teams working on different elements of the project simultaneously, spread over the complex. We’re also looking forward to hosting more writing and music camps.

Paddy says: “I once had a dream to record Johnny Cash and a month later his daughter Roseanne Cash arrived at the studio”.