The best spots around the coun­try for a pint

Ire­land is rightly world fa­mous for its pubs – and here we look at a se­lec­tion of the finest hostel­ries in the land.

Hot Press - - After Dark -



12-14 Church Lane, Belfast

Tel: (028) 9033 2445

Belfast’s newest gin bar re­flects the chang­ing char­ac­ter of the city cen­tre. Mix­ing its classy set­ting with a deca­dent in­te­rior (lin­gerie hangs brazenly from the roof), Muriel’s is part of a num­ber of emerg­ing bars which have made Belfast a hub for nightlife and tourism. Of­fer­ing some of the best cock­tails you’re likely to find any­where, the Bee’s Knees in par­tic­u­lar – fea­tur­ing Hen­drick’s gin and a slab of honey to gar­nish – is the per­fect

con­coc­tion to get you ready for sum­mer.


42 Botanic Av­enue, Belfast Tel: (028) 9024 9276 the­belfastem­

Lo­cated in a for­mer church, the Em­pire is a main­stay of the city’s live mu­sic and com­edy scene, and has been for many decades. With three floors, a cav­ernous live mu­sic space and eye-catch­ing paint­ings, the Em­pire quickly be­came a must-see for rev­ellers across the coun­try when it opened in 1987. Ev­ery­one from Sigur Ros to Nanci Grif­fith has per­formed in the past and sev­eral great res­i­dency bands keep crowds com­ing through the week. THE BOTANIC INN

23-27 Malone Road, Belfast Tel: (028) 9050 9740 the­b­

Af­fec­tion­ately known as ‘The Bot’, pa­trons have been flock­ing to The Botanic Inn for al­most

150 years. The tra­di­tional front bar pro­vides cosy, quiet sur­round­ings for lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike, while the lively at­mos­phere of the main bar sees ev­ery­one from lunch crowds to night owls en­joy­ing the en­ter­tain­ment. With a steady stream of cus­tomers seven nights a week, it’s not only the big­gest spot in North­ern Ire­land but also the busiest – a visit will make it easy to see why.


46 Great Vic­to­ria Street, Belfast Tel: (028) 28 9024 3187 nichol­son­

All tourists trav­el­ling into Belfast, take note: when leav­ing the Europa Bus Cen­tre, keep your eyes firmly fixed in front of you, and you’ll gaze upon the es­sen­tial tourist spot to start your jour­ney. Boast­ing stun­ning Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture, The Crown is one of Belfast’s best-known bars. Thanks to its cosy snug, great pints and bril­liant at­mos­phere, you won’t go wrong here.


62 High Street, Belfast Tel: (028) 28 9031 1130 na­tion­al­

Sit­u­ated on Belfast’s fa­mous High Street, with the Mer­chant Ho­tel be­side it and the trendy Club 66 above – not to men­tion the Cathe­dral Quar­ter on its doorstep – the Na­tional Grande Café has be­come a hub for stu­dents and young pro­fes­sion­als in re­cent years. Hardly a sur­prise, given its stun­ning dé­cor, good mu­sic and ex­cel­lent range of drinks (the Aren’t You Glad? cock­tail comes highly rec­om­mended). A spot that’s sure to pro­vide a mem­o­rable night.


3 Skip­per Street, Belfast Tel: (028) 9023 2448, thes­paniard­

Tucked away in the Cathe­dral Quar­ter, there’s a chance you could pass this gem with­out even re­al­is­ing; we can’t stress what a mis­take that would be. Com­bin­ing a tra­di­tional feel with flavours of Ibe­ria and good old-fash­ioned rock’n’roll, it boasts a flab­ber­gast­ing ar­ray of rums and an un­beat­able at­mos­phere, en­sur­ing there’s never a quiet night. Keep your eyes peeled for a fa­mil­iar face or two, as the likes of Bill Mur­ray and Sean Bean have been known to pop by when in town.



48 MacCur­tain Street, Mon­tonette, Cork Tel: (021) 450 0913

Hav­ing swept the boards at the 2018 Ir­ish Craft

Cock­tail awards, Cask has quickly be­come the hottest ticket in town since open­ing in 2017. Their huge suc­cess has been due, in no small part, to the ef­forts of the Best Bar­tender award-win­ning cock­tail mas­ter Carl D’Al­ton. Ev­ery 12 weeks, Carl re­veals a com­pletely new cock­tail menu, en­sur­ing that the li­ba­tions served at Cask run in har­mony with the sea­sons. The drinks in­clude for­aged in­gre­di­ents and pro­duce from small ar­ti­san sup­pli­ers.


West Vil­lage, Ballincol­lig, Co. Cork Tel: (021) 487 1388 white­

Beloved by lo­cals for more than a cen­tury, a stop at The White Horse is one thing no vis­i­tor to the Rebel County should go with­out. Serv­ing a fab­u­lous menu of fresh, lo­cally sourced grub, you’ll be well fed as well as wa­tered, while up­stairs sits a live mu­sic venue that ranks amongst the most in­ti­mate and im­pres­sive in the coun­try. It’s a per­fect sum­mer spot too, as a huge beer gar­den al­lows you to make the most of the sun while it lasts!


44-45 Corn­mar­ket Street, Cork Tel: (021) 427 3756, bode­ga­

Bang in the mid­dle of the his­toric Coal Quay, the Bodega is a beloved Cork institutio­n.

Part of the city’s Her­itage Pubs Trail, it boasts an op­u­lent in­te­rior that brings a con­ti­nen­tal feel right to the heart of the city. It trans­forms from an airy eatery dur­ing the day­light hours to a lively nightspot later on, so whether you’re look­ing for a tasty brunch, an im­pres­sive evening din­ing op­tion or a chance to pull on your danc­ing shoes, this stylish and el­e­gant venue has you cov­ered.

THE MUTTON LANE INN 3 Mutton Lane, Cork

Tel: (021) 427 3471

When strolling down Pa­trick’s Street, it’s pos­si­ble to miss the small artery that houses The Mutton Lane Inn. Take our well-mean­ing ad­vice and just don’t! The cosy bar has been a favourite among Leesiders for gen­er­a­tions, and con­tin­ues to of­fer a won­der­ful tra­di­tional at­mos­phere. The ad­di­tion of the Pana Shuf­fle – a gi­gan­tic mu­ral cel­e­brat­ing the sights and sounds of Cork’s rich mu­sic her­itage – is yet an­other rea­son why it should be a must-visit while in the Rebel City.



49 Up­per Main Street, Let­terkenny, Co. Done­gal

Tel: (074) 912 1338

An es­sen­tial stop-off in Let­terkenny, the

Cot­tage Bar is an am­bi­ent pub which wears its tra­di­tional dé­cor well. Socks, hats, flasks, mugs and bikes (yes, bikes) hang from the walls and ceil­ings of this cosy lit­tle lo­ca­tion. As re­li­able a place as you’re likely to get for a good ses­sion in the north-west, the Cot­tage Bar is the one to go to if you’re in Done­gal.


25–27 Lower Main Street, Let­terkenny, Co. Done­gal

Tel: (074) 912 1106


A tra­di­tional fam­ily run pub, which has been trad­ing in the heart of Let­terkenny’s main street since the 19th cen­tury, McGin­ley’s right­fully boasts that – like most of the best wines or whiskeys – it only gets bet­ter with age. The beau­ti­ful old style dé­cor in the pub, cen­tred on a roar­ing open re and props and trin­kets from years gone by, help cre­ate a truly unique am­bi­ence. Be­yond that, McGin­ley’s has a well–earned rep­u­ta­tion for live mu­sic. The bar is one of the best places in Done­gal to catch a trad ses­sion (Tues­days and Wed­nes­days), while it’s also be­come a haven for rock, folk and blues fans, with lo­cal groups and cover bands pro­vid­ing the live sound­track to your Thurs­day, Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day nights.



4 As­ton Quay, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 444 2906 ri­ot­

Dublin’s newest dive bar has brought a dash of scuzzy New York cool and Ber­lin back al­ley chic to the quays. Serv­ing up pre­mium drinks and retro cock­tails, r.i.o.t. is also home to a unique base­ment venue, which hosts weekly free par­ties with Ire­land’s top DJs and in­ter­na­tional acts. The r.i.o.t ex­pe­ri­ence comes com­plete with pool ta­bles, darts, retro ar­cade games, and a tasty Mex­i­can in uenced snack menu.


17/20 Sy­camore Street, Tem­ple Bar, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 535 6849 thewil­d­

Dublin’s most ex­cit­ing new the­atre, mu­sic and food venue, The Wild Duck is a fu­sion of old Ire­land with a con­tem­po­rary retro avour. Owned by renowned restau­ra­teur and ac­tor Gary Whe­lan, The Wild Duck op­er­ates as both a stylish place for a quiet drink and a fan­tas­tic mu­sic venue. It’s also a great place to grab a quick bite if you’re in the Tem­ple Bar area! You’ll nd funk rock and tra­di­tional bands playing dur­ing the week­end; burg­ers and hot­dogs be­ing served up seven days a week; and stun­ning decor on which to feast your eyes.


13 High Street, Christchur­ch, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 244 4917 gal­way­bay­brew­­mar­ket

It’s hard to be­lieve this revo­lu­tion­ary joint only opened in April 2015, con­sid­er­ing the im­pact it’s made among craft beer afi­ciona­dos in the cap­i­tal. It’s not only the very first es­tab­lish­ment in Ire­land en­tirely ded­i­cated to craft beer, but also of­fers its li­ba­tions from taps that are num­bered rather than branded, guar­an­tee­ing that there’s al­ways some­thing new to try. If you pre­fer your drinks dis­tilled rather than brewed, there’s a huge range of whiskeys too – and don’t sleep on their im­pres­sive food of­fer­ings ei­ther.


20 Lower Bridge Street, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 677 9549 brazen­

The jury’s out on how much re­mains of the orig­i­nal walls, but when you raise a glass in The Brazen Head, you’re in the spot where count­less oth­ers have done the ex­act same since 1198. Ev­ery­one from Daniel O’Con­nell and Michael Collins to lit­er­ary giants such as James Joyce and Jonathan Swift have had a tip­ple or two in The Brazen Head down through the years. Steeped in his­tory, it’s just a short stroll from the iconic Christchur­ch Cathe­dral. In terms of mod­ern con­cerns, it has live en­ter­tain­ment and a lovely beer gar­den.

CHELSEA DRUG­STORE Tel: (01) 613 9093 thechelsea­d­rug­

Lo­cated in a build­ing which once re­ally was a phar­macy, if you’re in the mood for a quirky and de­li­cious cock­tail, this wel­come ad­di­tion to Dublin’s bar scene is the place to go. While an ex­ten­sive se­lec­tion of craft beers is on of­fer, the in-house con­coc­tions put to­gether by their mixol­o­gists are def­i­nitely the star turn. The stylish, min­i­mal­ist dé­cor, mean­while, makes this one of the coolest and classi­est spots in the city.


3-5 Ex­che­quer Street, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 670 6787 the­ex­che­

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a top din­ing spot,

The Ex­che­quer – a re­cip­i­ent of the Al­lIre­land Best Cock­tail Ex­pe­ri­ence gong at the Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land Awards – is also known for its cre­ative cock­tail menu. De­vel­oped by an award­win­ning mixol­ogy team, the cock­tails blend tra­di­tional Ir­ish in­gre­di­ents with in­no­va­tive new flavours; a nod to the bar’s ethos of sup­port­ing Ir­ish pro­duc­ers. In­deed, with its ex­ten­sive cock­tails list and drinks menu,

The Ex­che­quer – which boasts a won­der­fully re­laxed at­mos­phere – is al­ways a sure­fire bet for a great evening.


15 Wil­liam Street South, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 677 9320­gan­scastlelou­nge

If you’ve been be­fore, you’ll know that Gro­gan’s welcomes ev­ery kind of mis­fit with open arms. Its core clien­tele is a mix of refugees from the arts world, and its walls pro­vide a con­tin­u­ous ex­hi­bi­tion of their work. But on busy nights, when the bar spills out onto Cas­tle Mar­ket, the di­ver­sity of char­ac­ters is truly re­mark­able. Gro­gan’s his­tory might ex­plain its con­tin­ued at­trac­tion – it was a favoured haunt of the likes of Pa­trick Ka­vanagh, Flann O’Brien, JP Don­leavy and Liam O’Fla­herty through­out the years. The bar also of­fers a leg­endary ham and cheese toastie.

THE LONG HALL Tel: (01) 4751590­e­long­hallpub

A truly great bar should be im­per­vi­ous to the pas­sage of time and the whims of fashion. Since 1877, The Long Hall’s red and white striped canopies have shel­tered gen­er­a­tions of loyal drinkers, while wit­ness­ing boom, bust and rev­o­lu­tion. Its Vic­to­rian splen­dour is fa­mous around the world and is seen as a clas­sic. Brendan Be­han was a reg­u­lar and Philip Lynott can be seen prop­ping up the bar in the clas­sic video for ‘Old Town’. Spend an hour at the bar with the pa­per and a pint, and let your trou­bles melt away.


8 Pool­beg Street, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 677 5582 mul­li­

Mulligan’s is more than a Dublin pub; it’s an Ir­ish cul­tural phe­nom­e­non, and – even al­low­ing for the fierce com­pe­ti­tion in the cap­i­tal – it might just serve the best pint of Guin­ness in the world. The re­mark­able ar­ray of char­ac­ters to have vis­ited over the years in­cludes Judy Gar­land, Sea­mus Heaney, Con Houli­han, James Joyce and John F. Kennedy. More or less frozen in time since the 19th cen­tury, it’s a place of dusty mir­rors, gaslight fit­tings, and com­pletely unique charm and char­ac­ter. Quite sim­ply, a must-visit.


105-106 Marl­bor­ough Street, North City, Dublin 1 Tel: (01) 873 3503 piper­

With renowned uil­leann piper Sean Potts (whose fa­ther was a found­ing mem­ber of

The Chief­tains) and Dublin pub­li­can Ea­monn Bri­ody at the helm, Pipers Cor­ner has al­ready be­come a Mecca for Ir­ish tra­di­tional mu­sic and Gaelic games fans in Dublin, de­spite hav­ing only opened in July 2017. Lo­cated across the road from the Abbey The­atre, Pipers Cor­ner has trad ses­sions round the clock, and any given night could see the likes of Sean McKeon, Liam O’Connor, Kevin Glackin and more per­form­ing, with Damien Dempsey and mem­bers of Lankum also known to pop their heads in for a ses­sion on cer­tain nights…


11 High Road, Kil­main­ham Lane, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 671 3967 [email protected]

Of­fer­ing up a lit­tle slice of the coun­try in the bus­tle of Dublin 8, the Old Royal Oak is one of the city’s most trea­sured hid­den gems. While it may have the out­ward ap­pear­ance

of a clas­sic old-timer’s pub, the Old Royal

Oak at­tracts a di­verse range of cus­tomers across a range of ages, and is famed lo­cally for its in­clu­sive at­mos­phere. Tucked away on Kil­main­ham Lane, the pub has been op­er­ated by the highly accommodat­ing Costello fam­ily for over 46 years. To many of its fre­quent cus­tomers, the Old Royal Oak serves as a trip back in time, from its sim­ple in­te­rior dé­cor to the per­fec­tion of its Guin­ness. The pub is also a proud mem­ber of the Dog Friendly As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land – so while you en­joy your pint, your pup is more than wel­come to join you for a treat and bowl of wa­ter.

TOKEN Tel: (01) 532 2699 to­k­

A restau­rant, bar, retro ar­cade, pin­ball par­lour and event space, Token is cur­rently where it’s at in Smith­field. With over 32 retro ma­chines fea­tur­ing ev­ery­thing from Don­key Kong to shoot-em-ups, and 22 bar taps mak­ing sure that no­body goes thirsty, we doubt you’ll be leav­ing with­out try­ing some­thing new. Food-wise, you’ll be able to gorge on wild boar burger, taste ve­gan cala­mari, devour won­der­ful ba­con bat­tered Reese’s Cup, or sam­ple ex­tremely hot chicken – all of which are made to or­der. If you’re look­ing to put on an event, Token hosts all kinds, gam­ing and non-gam­ing, rang­ing from film screen­ings to board game meet-ups, pin­ball leagues, eat­ing chal­lenges, beer tast­ings and more.


Vault C, CHQ Build­ing, Cus­tom House Quay, North Dock, Dublin

Tel: (01) 568 5989 ur­ban­brew­

Brew­ers of the award-win­ning O’Hara’s Ir­ish Stout, Ir­ish Red and Ir­ish Pale Ale, Ur­ban Brewing is one of the newest ad­di­tions to O’Hara’s ever de­vel­op­ing Dublin Dock­lands home. It com­bines a craft brew­ery with two unique bars and the be­spoke Stack A Restau­rant. Other of­fer­ings at the Brew­ery in­clude Taps & Tapas, an open kitchen fea­tur­ing an ar­ray of tapas style dishes and two fully li­censed bars; Brew­mas­ter’s Table, which is ideal for group par­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence food and wine/beer pair­ings; and Brew­ery Tours, where you can im­merse your­self in the brewing process, taste se­lected beers, and meet the brew­ers for an in-depth chat.



2 Sea Road, Gal­way Tel: (091) 587 419 the­

One of the best known mu­sic pubs on the west coast, this in­ti­mate hostelry of­fers en­ter­tain­ment both up­stairs and down­stairs, seven nights a week. It’s a pop­u­lar spot with those who like to play and those who like to lis­ten, and the at­mos­phere is one that only a gen­uine ‘lo­cal’ can hope to cre­ate.

Pull up a seat, sip on a pint of the black stuff, and en­joy the en­chant­ing sto­ries and songs around you. There aren’t many places quite like this.

HARRY’S AT WA­TER LANE 77 Bo­her­more, Gal­way

Tel: (087) 846 0320 har­rys­bar­gal­

One of the new wave of Gal­way venues, Harry’s has quickly es­tab­lished it­self as one of the trend-set­ters on the city’s en­ter­tain­ment scene. One of the best rea­sons to visit is their won­der­ful brunch menu, fea­tur­ing fluffy but­ter­milk pan­cakes, Eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and chicken wings served with a blue cheese dip and cel­ery. Cock­tails are pre­pared with the same care and at­ten­tion as the dishes – and they’re equally as tasty. This busy venue also features reg­u­lar live mu­sic, an open mic night on a Wed­nes­day and a DJ at week­ends.


17 Cross Street, Gal­way Tel: (091) 568 820 tigh­neach­

Sit­u­ated right at the cen­tre of the City of the Tribes, Tigh Neach­tain has been a beloved

wa­ter­ing hole for over a cen­tury. Its strong con­nec­tion with Gal­way’s arts and mu­si­cal com­mu­ni­ties adds to the al­lure of its al­ready wel­com­ing in­te­rior; there’s a good chance you’ll find ac­tors, writ­ers, mu­si­cians and artists en­joy­ing a trad ses­sion or a per­fect pint. Of course, if the sun is on your side, there’s no need for the cosy fire­place – you’ll never find a bet­ter spot to sit out­side and watch the western world go by.



29 Par­lia­ment Street, Kilkenny Tel: (056) 780 5081 car­low­brew­

Lo­cated in an area with a long as­so­ci­a­tion with brewing and dis­till­ing, Brew­ery Cor­ner opened its doors in 2013, and is Kilkenny’s first ded­i­cated craft beer pub. For good mea­sure, it’s also Ire­land’s only pub to serve ex­clu­sively Ir­ish craft beer on tap. With live mu­sic from lo­cal artists and DJ through­out the week, great piz­zas made to or­der, and 13 taps pulling the full O’Hara’s beer range – plus guest Ir­ish craft beers and ciders – Brew­ery Cor­ner has be­come one of the Mar­ble City’s top pubs in re­cent years.



34 Ce­cil Street, Lim­er­ick Tel: (061) 415 749

One of the old­est and most iconic pubs in Lim­er­ick, Tom Collins boasts a stylish in­te­rior dec­o­rated with the work of lo­cal artists. Pop­u­lar with young and old, it en­joys a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a lively spot full of char­ac­ter – and is renowned for serv­ing one of the best pints in town. An eclec­tic crowd helps to make this city-cen­tre spot one of the most en­joy­able and vi­brant places to en­joy a jar in the Treaty City.


11 Wick­ham Street, Lim­er­ick Tel: (061) 597 816­ham­tap

Un­der the ex­pert pa­tron­age of the Gal­way Bay Brew­ery, the Wick­ham Tap features an ex­quis­ite choice of drinks, rang­ing from lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties to the finest im­ported beers, which get ro­tated through­out the year, as well as a highly in­formed staff. Open seven days a week, and with po­etry jams and live mu­sic ses­sions on cer­tain days, Wick­ham Tap is al­ways a su­perb des­ti­na­tion.



Bridge Street, West­port, Co. Mayo Tel: (098) 266 55 mattmol­

Matt Mol­loy has en­joyed a dec­o­rated mu­si­cal ca­reer with The Chief­tains and Planxty. Thus, it’s lit­tle sur­prise that the bar that bears his name has be­come renowned for its mu­si­cal of­fer­ings. With en­ter­tain­ment seven nights a week – and a lively at­mos­phere courtesy of tourists and lo­cals alike – there’s never a dull mo­ment in this West­port hotspot. Per­haps this ex­plains why, both at home and abroad, Mol­loy’s en­joys a ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion.



Tel: (057) 932 4816­hoenix­tul­lam­ore

Af­ter more than six years of build­ing and plan­ning, Tul­lam­ore’s newest bar nally threw open its doors to the pub­lic last Novem­ber. The brain­child of Killeigh na­tives Ea­mon and Ed­die Brady, the late bar, sports bar and venue have been a wel­come ad­di­tion to the lo­cal nightlife. With state of the art TV and sound fa­cil­i­ties, the Phoenix is the per­fect place to sit back and en­joy live sport­ing events.



Cheek­point Road, Co. Water­ford Tel: (051) 850 950 jack­

Pos­sess­ing an award-win­ning beer gar­den, Jack Meades is the ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion for a fine day in the sunny south-east. With green fields and river walks nearby, you could scarcely pic­ture a more idyl­lic lo­ca­tion, and with an out­door grill and a chil­dren’s play area, it’s the ideal place to pass the hours away. Should the weather not be in your favour, you can re­treat to the fire­place of the main cot­tage bar, where the rus­tic wood fit­tings pro­vide a cosy spot to re­lax.



13 Main Street, Athlone, Co.West­meath

Tel: (090) 649 2358 seans­

The old­est pub in Ire­land and per­haps the world – the Guin­ness Book Of World Records has dated it as far back as 900AD – Sean’s Bar shows no signs of slow­ing down, even af­ter more than a mil­len­nium! Lo­cated on the banks of the Shan­non, this Athlone institutio­n at the very cen­tre of Ire­land is a tried and tested (and tested, and tested…) pub­lic house where you can en­joy an evening’s live mu­sic, or sim­ply a pint in stun­ning his­toric sur­round­ings. One for tourists to tick off the bucket list, for sure.

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