Dublin is full of pubs - modern megapubs catering for a young crowd, cozy small corner pubs which have not been redecorated since 1916
, pubs providing a venue for folk musicians and pubs that are no more than watering holes for the serious drinkers. Picking the best pubs is down to taste and expectations. But here is a list of the pubs I would deem worth a visit when you are in Dublin and looking for a decent night out.
The Big Daddy of Folk Music - O'Donoghue's at 15 Merrion Row was the pub that launched the career of the "Dubliners", Ireland's seminal folk and ballad group. Thus making the O'Donoghue's the seminal pub for folk fans visiting Dublin. Can get crowded especially during the tourist season and when live music is on. Near to the city center and surprisingly large, the pub is on several tours and will nearly always have a steady influx of visitors.
Situated smack in the middle of the busy Temple Bar District this pub is known for its bright mural (including a Jack Russell Terrier relieving himself), folk music and crowds. The address 24-25 Temple Bar ensures a steady stream of mostly young and sometimes very noisy crowds. You will never get bored here, but you'll not hear the music (or your own words) at peak times.
3. The Hole in the WallDefinitely not in the city center, but right next to the Phoenix Park in Blackhorse Avenue (Dublin 7) - actually the pub and the park wall are fused together. This is Ireland's longest pub, created by combining several old houses. Usually full with a local crowd and people "in the know" travelling some distance to enjoy around 100 yards of bar. Parking can involve a good walk and public transport is available on the Navan Road - a good walk away too.
Claims to be Dublin's oldest pub and to have started pouring the good stuff in 1198 - this claim is rarely disputed despite the fact that the building is from the 1750s. Located at 20 Bridge Street (Lower) it is opposite the Four Courts and a good walk (or short bus ride) away from the city center. Recommended for nostalgic decor and a good pint. Bold Robert Emmet had lodgings here and is said to still visit occasionally ... despite being executed in 1803.
5. Kavanagh's Pub or "The Gravediggers"
Again a pub that you will have to visit using a car or public transport, the address 1 Prospect Square (Glasnevin, Dublin 9) giving its location away to most Dubliners. The (old) main gates to the massive Glasnevin Cemetery
. Hence the pub's name - cemetery workmen used to refresh themselves here and threw lumps of gravel with their shovels to order a pint! The atmosphere is less funereal today, but the pub had preserved the look and feel of days gone by. Occasional spectral visits included.
6. McDaid'sLocated just off Grafton Street at 3 Harry Street this pub is convenient for the city center. Making it crowded at most times. Most people drop in for a drink and maybe a light bite, but you should enjoy the "art deco" interior to truly appreciate McDaid's. Artistic connections are to be found in patrons past - Patrick Kavanagh used to drink here, so did (albeit in larger quantities and with greater frequency) Brendan Behan.
To be found at 8 Poolbeg Street on the Southside (Dublin 2), Mulligan's has been pouring the pints since 1782 (though not at this location originally). The pub grew into one establishment out of separate houses and has some period interior. Its main claim to fame, however, is a perfect pint poured by experienced staff. And James Joyce on the list of its "regulars".
Not a traditional pub, but a concept born in the 1980s and geared towards the tourist - with "sister pubs" in Galway, Paris, Brussels and Boston. Restaurant, bar and entertainment, including the sometimes dubious pleasure of DJs "straight from Ibiza". High on fun, low on peace and quiet.
9. Messrs MaguireSprawling over four floors and boasting its own micro-brewery, this combination of pub, late-night bar and restaurant is famed for its beers and as a place to meet people from near and far. Location might play a major role here - located within sight of O'Connell Bridge (the official address being Burgh Quay, Dublin 2), Messrs Maguire is as central as it gets. Traditional music on Mondays, but Saturdays and Sundays are dominated by sport on the huge TV screens.
To be found at 10-11 Townsend Street on the Southside (Dublin 2), this pub is decorated in the "Celtic" style, incorporating Viking elements and even a statue of Norse god Balder (doubling as a fireplace). Popular and usually frequented by a mixed crowd.