Wherever you are, you are never more than a few 100 metres away from a pub in Dublin. Pubs are where Dubliners go to have a chat, get the latest world news and local gossip alike, voice their opinion on the state of the nation, glean a tip for the races (horses, of course) and maybe sing a song or two.
Pubs In Dublin
Pubs are central to the social fabric of Ireland and nowhere is this more true than in Dublin. The pub is where you'll experience The Craic, or the art of having a good time, at its fullest. As the home of Guinness, the dark stout beer brewed in Dublin since 1759, Dublin pubs take particular pride in serving a good pint of 'the dark stuff'. But don't worry if you don't like the taste, lager style beers have become more and more popular and most Dublin pubs now serve a wide selection of imported beers from around the world.
A Short History Of Dublin Pubs
As little as 50 years ago, many Dubliners lived in overcrowded living quarters with little heat or comfort. So, if you wanted to entertain friends or you where just keen to escape somewhere warm and welcoming for a few hours you would have been off to the pub.
You still find Victorian era Gin Palaces in Dublin, pubs that sparkle with the splendour of cut glass mirrors, polished woodwork and elaborate ornaments, creating an ideal living room away from their patrons' more modest homes. The Long Hall on South Great George's Street is a fine example, the former glamour is well worn at this stage, but you still get a lift when you step in out of a blustery shower on a grey day.
Add half an hour 'drink-up time' at the end of the night, you won't get another drink at the bar, but you'll have time to finish up your last one and continue that conversation you had. A few pubs catering to Dublin's market traders open early in the morning, like Slattery's at 129 Capel Street. The standard opening hours for pubs in Dublin are:
Monday - Thursday 10:30-23:30
Friday and Saturday 10:30-0:30
Expect to pay €5.00 for a pint (568ml) of stout or lager from the tap, more for imported and bottled beers. A shot of spirits would be about the same, mixers (like the tonic water in gin and tonic) are charged extra.
Traditional pubs do not have table service. If you are lucky enough to find a seat, you need to go to the bar to order. Tipping is not usual but warmly welcomed.
If a bell goes and the barman shouts 'Last Orders' it's time to join the scrum, a Rugby term for a pushing against your opponents, jostling for a few centimetres of space at the bar. You might have heard of after hours drinking, the famous 'lock-in', in Irish country pubs but closing time is enforced strictly in Dublin pubs.
A Traditional Dublin Pub Crawl
In your search for the best pint you could start a little Pub Crawl, a good old Dublin tradition, where you are going from bar to bar sampling their beers and their atmosphere. Start at the quintessentially Irish in its decor is Kehoe's on South Anne Street, spitting distance from Dublin's main shopping street, Grafton Street. Kehoes is where famous visitors like Pierce Brosnan stop to get a taste of a good pint. Then on to the urbane Palace Bar(21 Fleet Street), the streetwise International full of Dublin characters (Andrew Street), Grogan's Castle Bar with its media crowd and artwork for sale on the walls (15 South William Street) and, finally, the delightfully old-fashioned hunting lodge atmosphere of the Stags Head (Dame Court).
But Dublin has more to offer than Old World charms. If you are looking for something more contemporary, try the opulent Cafe En Seine or the more intimate SamSara, both on Dawson Street. The cutting edge of Dublin nightlife is currently centred around Camden Street, just South of the main shopping district. Funky bars like Anseo and The Bernard Shaw (11-12 South Richmond Street) as well as eateries and boutiques jostle cheek to jowl here and you are bound to have a good time.
If you like sports, Dublin's main Rugby pub is Doheny & Nesbitt's on Baggott Street Lower. On a match day there is no other place with an atmosphere quite like it. Fans of other sports such as football/soccer or the traditional Irish pastimes of Hurling or Gaelic Football tend to congregate around Temple Bar before and after matches.
Traditional Music Pubs
Leave Doheny & Nesbitt's and head for the Grafton Street shopping area and you will find O'Donoghue's in Merrion Row, an institution on the traditional music scene. Check at the bar for details of the next music session. Regular players here included the Dubliners in their heydays and photographs of famous Irish musicians line the walls in this authentic spot that has dodged all trends and fashions.
Temple Bar - The Pub Capital Of Dublin
If Dublin is the Pub Capital of Ireland, then Temple Bar has the same function for Dublin. If you are planning a night out with a group, you will find the highest density of pubs anywhere in Dublin in the Temple Bar district on the South Bank of the River Liffey. This ancient district smack in the city centre exudes old world charm with its narrow, cobbled lanes. Whatever the time of the day, pubs here are always busy, though you are more likely to meet fellow travellers at the bar than locals.
With so many people out to have a good time, Temple Bar is buzzing with atmosphere and you will find a pub to suit everybody in your group. For a taste of the action, dive into the Oliver St John Gogarty (57/58 Fleet Street), The Temple Bar (Essex Street East) or The Auld Dubliner (17 Anglesea Street). On the borders of Temple Bar you find the more upmarket Oak Bar (Parliament Street) with its wood panelling which was salvaged from sunk luxury liner Mauritania.