Since St. Patrick’s Day is just days away, we thought it might be high time to pay homage to the number one St. Paddy’s Day pastime – tossing back a pint or two! And though St. Patrick’s Day is more for the tourists than the locals around the Green Isle, they do know how to imbibe.
Keep in mind that every town has what’s known as a “local,” and though it is a place to drink, pubs are also known for being the center of the community – a place to meet and chat with your neighbors, discuss politics or host celebrations. Pubs have been around for hundreds of years. Here are a few of the best.
Best Old School Pub
If you’re someone who craves authenticity and despises the creep of new and shiny chain-style restaurants, Mulligans is the place for you. While many of Dublin’s pubs have gotten facelifts and corporate owners, Mulligans is just as cozy and real as it comes. Rumor has it they serve the best Guinness in Dublin as well.
Best Place to Fix Your Toilet
Foxy John’s, Dingle
You heard correctly. Half the pub is actually a rather ramshackle hardware store – which makes it the best place to get your drink on while practicing home improvements! Add in some very well-reviewed traditional, Irish bands most nights and you can see why Foxy John’s is always a popular spot in town.
Best Pub to Frustrate an Instagrammer
Hi-B in Cork
You’d be surprised how many pub owners get a little tetchy when tourists pull out a selfie stick. Ok, maybe you wouldn’t. The salt of the earth, folksy vibe of many pubs is just not so conducive to selfie culture. And the Hi-B wear’s its low tech bona fides on it’s sleeve. A big sign directly over the bar reads “NO MOBILES IN BAR” and they don’t even have a website! Plan to come in, relax and have a chat. Leave that cell phone back at the hotel.
Oldest Pub in Ireland
Sean’s Bar, Althone
Purported to have been in operation for over 1,000 years, Sean’s Bar decidedly wins the “oldest bar in Ireland” category. Situated on the banks of the Shannon River and next to Althone Castle (a Norman construction from the 12th century), the place is steeped in history. Come in “where the pints are always flowing and clientele is always diverse,” as their web
Oldest Pub in Dublin
Brazen Head, Dublin
Of course, there are many other “oldest pub” heirs to the throne, but the Brazen Head has the most legitimate claim to the title. The pub has been in operation since 1198, and the present building was erected in 1754. Throughout Irish history, the Brazen Head has been a prime meeting place for various uprisings and insurrections, and the author James Joyce used to frequent the Brazen Head as one of his favorite watering holes. If you’re a pub culture/history buff, you really can’t pass up the Brazen Head.
Best Gin and Whiskey
This grocery-turned-pub has been around for nearly 50 years and has expanded their spirits menu to include an impressive selection of gins and whiskeys from around the world. Though Ireland is certainly beer country, if you’re more of a cocktail person, you might not want to miss O’Connell’s. As a bonus, the layout is a fantastic labyrinth of nooks and crannies in which to get truly cozy.
Most Swoon-Worthy Architecture
The Long Hall, Dublin
The Long Hall is known for it’s professional pours, the gregarious and winsome staff, and its ability to draw luminaries and celebrities from far and wide. Not only might you catch a glimpse of a famous person or two, the interiors of the Long Hall are stunning Victorian – all filigreed mirrors, ornate chandeliers and carved wood. This favorite pub has been licensed for more than 250 years. Come and get your culture!
Best Beer Garden
Tom Barry’s, Cork
Ok, so Ireland in general doesn’t get so many warm, summer nights. But that doesn’t stop Tom Barry’s from offering cozy al fresco dining (the pizza is a fave), under twinkle lights and cozy ambience. There’s just no better place to sip yer pint or vino in Cork.
Best Pub to Hear Traditional Music
McDermott’s Pub, Doolin
There’s no shortage of pubs to listen to Irish music around the country. What makes McDermott’s special is its proximity to the majestic Cliff’s of Moher on the Wild Atlantic Way. Doolin is a short, 6-mile drive from the coast. If you’ve made it all the way to Doolin you’d be a fool to miss the Cliffs.
Best Pub for Oysters (and other Seafood)
Moran’s Oyster Cottage, Galway
This small, family business (for 250 years) is renowned around Galway, sourcing its seafood from Galway Bay. It’s situated on the Kilcolgan River and is open year round (they close 4 days for Christmas Dec 23-26). Don’t miss it!
Check out our post on the Best Sights in Ireland to visit!