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.
MURIEL’S CAFÉ BAR
12-14 Church Lane, Belfast
Tel: (028) 9033 2445 facebook.com/muriels.cafebar
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.
THE BELFAST EMPIRE
42 Botanic Avenue, Belfast Tel: (028) 9024 9276 thebelfastempire.com
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 thebotanicinn.com
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 nicholsonpubs.co.uk
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 nationalbelfast.com
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, thespaniardbar.com
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.
CASK BAR & RESTAURANT
48 MacCurtain Street, Montonette, Cork Tel: (021) 450 0913 caskcork.com
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.
THE WHITE HORSE
West Village, Ballincollig, Co. Cork Tel: (021) 487 1388 whitehorse.ie
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, bodegacork.ie
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 facebook.com/mutton.lane
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.
THE COTTAGE BAR
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 riotdublin.com
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.
THE WILD DUCK
17/20 Sycamore Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 535 6849 thewildduck.ie
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.
THE BEER MARKET
13 High Street, Christchurch, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 244 4917 galwaybaybrewery.com/beermarket
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.
THE BRAZEN HEAD
20 Lower Bridge Street, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 677 9549 brazenhead.com
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 thechelseadrugstore.ie
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.
THE EXCHEQUER D2
3-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 670 6787 theexchequer.ie
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 9320 facebook.com/groganscastlelounge
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) 4751590 facebook.com/thelonghallpub
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 mulligans.ie
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 piperscorner.ie
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…
THE OLD ROYAL OAK
11 High Road, Kilmainham Lane, Dublin 8 Tel: (01) 671 3967 [email protected] facebook.com/theoakd8
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 tokendublin.ie
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 urbanbrewing.ie
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.
THE CRANE BAR
2 Sea Road, Galway Tel: (091) 587 419 thecranebar.com
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 harrysbargalway.com
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 tighneachtain.com
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 carlowbrewing.com/our-pub
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) 597 816 facebook.com/thewickhamtap
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 mattmolloy.com
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.
THE PHOENIX Co. Offaly
Tel: (057) 932 4816 facebook.com/thephoenixtullamore
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 jackmeades.com
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 seansbar.ie
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.