West Cork in the southwestern corner of Ireland is a melting pot of people from around the world- attracted here by the mild winters, beautiful beaches, lively music scene and wild coast that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find this melting pot of people in almost every bar in West Cork. Old people drinking with young people. Irish people singing with French people. The bars in West Cork are often essential centres for the rural communities and whether you visit in summer or in winter- you’ll receive a proper Irish welcome from all of the bars on this list.
1. Levis’ Bar, Ballydehob
Levis has been run by the same family for over 100 years, and it feels like nothing has changed in all that time. Half the bar is still set up as it would have been when this was the village shop. This little Irish bar is now run by Joe and Carolyne who have turned this quiet spot into a busy music venue. You’ll find a bit of everything here all year round from poetry readings, big Dublin and Cork bands, local singer-songwriters to the now famous sea shanty festival in June, the Ballydehob Jazz Festival in May and traditional Irish music throughout the year. There is no better bar in West Cork to listen to music in an intimate, relaxed and traditional setting.
Address: Levis Corner House Main St, Ballydehob, Co. Cork, Ireland
2. Jacob’s Bar, Baltimore
Jacob’s Bar is part of The Waterfront Hotel, located on the square in the centre of Baltimore. The bar is surrounded by sliding glass doors which open up onto the square in Summer. But this bar can still be enjoyed in the middle of winter when there’s a storm rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean- you can sit up at the huge copper bar by the open fire and watch over the busy little harbour. And no matter what time of the year it is- you’ll be able to order one of their famous handmade pizzas.
Address: The Square, Baltimore, Co. Cork, Ireland
3. MacCarthy’s Bar, Castletownbere
Like so many bars in Ireland, MacCarthy’s Bar started life as a shop. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the bar began to eclipse the shop and now MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere is an Irish institution. Famous for being the inspiration of the best selling book “McCarthy’s Bar” by Peter McCarthy who was inspired to visit every McCarthy’s Bar he could on his travels around Ireland.
Address: The Square, Knockaneroe, Castletown-Bearhaven, Co. Cork, Ireland
4. Ma Murphy’s Bar, Bantry
Located in the centre of Bantry, Ma Murphy’s Bar has been in the same family since the 1840’s and… like so many bars in West Cork, it hasn’t changed much! When you walk in from the road, you’ll enter into the front of the bar which is still a little shop selling everything from sweets to cigarettes. They even still use a fridge from the 1950’s! Then you walk through swinging doors into the bar itself where you’ll find a great melting pot of people. You’re as likely to meet a local 80-year-old farmer at the bar as you are a group of young Spanish people travelling around Ireland for the first time- and the best part is, it’s the kind of bar where everyone will talk to anyone.
Address: 7 New St, Town Lots, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland
5. O’Sullivan’s Bar, Crookhaven
O’Sullivan’s Bar is located in Crookhaven in one of the most unspoilt corners of Ireland surrounded by some of the best sandy beaches like Barleycove and just a short drive from Mizen Head. The bar spills out onto the harbour wall in Summer and is a favourite spot for visitors. But the bar is open from 11 AM all year round and one of the best times to visit is in the winter. Watch the huge waves crashing on the cliffs at Mizen Head or take a refreshing walk on one of the beaches followed by a visit to O’Sullivan’s Bar for a pint of Murphy’s and one of their famous crab sandwiches or seafood chowder by the open fire (and you’ll usually be joined by one of the pub dogs too).
Address: 1-4 Rock Street, Crookhaven, Co. Cork, Ireland