Ireland is renowned for its pubs: friendly, often lively, public houses where alcohol is served. Some have inspired artists and appeared as the backdrop to works of literature, film, music and song. The design and layout of the Irish pub is replicated the world over. Here, Marion McGarry discusses some of the more famous and iconic Irish pubs.
10. Tigh Neachtain’s, Galway City
Tigh Neachtain’s was established in 1894 and offers good Guinness and over 100 whiskeys. This is an old world pub and like any good Irish pub has a dimly lit interior and open fire, with cosy areas to sit at. The pub has a reputation for supporting local cultural festivals and groups and host regular traditional music sessions.
9. The Stag’s Head, Dublin City
The Stag’s Head is a landmark pub in Dublin with an interior characterized by the typically urban Irish Victorian pub interior. The main area is a long, spacious room with a bar of polished mahogany and walnut, with Connemara marble with a highly decorated ceiling above.
8. Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City
Near the famous English Market, this tiny but inviting pub is one of Cork city’s oldest. Characterized by its distinctive mural and beer kegs on which to sit, this is a quiet, dim and candle-lit pub that lends itself to a conversation.
7. The Temple Bar, Dublin City
There is never a dull moment at Dublin’s Temple Bar. Situated in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar district near the banks of the River Liffey, this brightly painted pub is beloved by tourists. It is always busy and lively, and visitors can try the traditional combo of oysters and Guinness here.
6. The Crown, Belfast City
One of Northern Ireland’s best known pubs, the Crown Liquor Saloon is said to be one of the last Victorian gin palaces on the island. Most of all it is noted for its lavish design, inside and out. There are some elements typical of the Irish pub interior in the form of cosy snugs, richly decorated ceilings and a red polished stone bar top.
The rest is an example of Victorian lavishness, with ornate wood carving, polished brass, glass, polychromatic tiles and period gas lights which were all at the height of fashion when it was refurbished in 1885. It all combines to create a vivid atmosphere that is worth experiencing.
5. The Brazen Head, Dublin City
The Brazen head is not far from the Guinness brewery which is located at nearby St. James’ Gate. It is said to be Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to the 12th century. Although the building has changed much over the years it has managed to retain an authentic Irish pub feel: these days it serves food and is a lively music venue. Some patrons throughout its long history have included Jonathon Swift, James Joyce, Daniel O’Connell and Michael Collins.
4. Matt Molloy’s, Westport Town
This colourful Westport pub is owned by Matt Molloy who is a member of the Chieftains, an internationally famous Irish band. It has a traditional interior with flagstone floors and painted wood paneled walls, with a cozy fire. It is a notable music venue with a warm atmosphere.
3. Michael Flannery’s Pub, Limerick City
Michael Flannery’s is a well-known Limerick pub with its vibrant red shopfront, renowned for being an ‘old fashioned pub’. The front retains its old shop from the pub’s ‘spirit grocer’ days and the comfy interior is all polished wood and dark corners with brick, stone and a stove.
2. Brennan’s Criterion, Bundoran, Co. Donegal
Brennan’s Criterion Bar opened in 1900 and for years it has been run by the elderly sisters Patricia and the late Nan Brennan, who, along with the pub, recently appeared in a national ad campaign for Guinness. The interior is remarkable: its a charming old-house that’s evidently the dwelling place of its owners. In order to encourage conversation, there is a strict ban on televisions, music, and swearing!
1. Hargadon’s, Sligo Town
Hargadon’s started out as a ‘spirit grocer’, a pub that operated as a grocery store, in the nineteenth century. It’s been extended over the years and now includes a restaurant, however the original front bar remains gloriously untouched. The walls are adorned with insanely crooked shelves, massive old whiskey jars, tea canisters, spice drawers with a multitude of snugs, nooks and crannies. The very old stove near the bar adds a cozy feel to the warm atmosphere.