The best pubs or cafes in any city is a combination of two things: how popular they are — in other words, how many people, including tourists go there again and again, and secondly, a place that simply touches the soul of an individual with a loud enough voice to say so and have it stick and spread virally — on or off the web.
My round-up came from a result of a few things: pubs that local Dubliners said “you must visit”, places I randomly walked into because their exterior “begged” me to and places I went to because of a scheduled meeting and met interesting people inside the pub who seemed to be locals and had interesting things to say. Onward for a visual tour, shall we. Then, the list.
Foggy Dews in Temple Bar
The Church Bar/Pub (a must visit), was the former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland which was built at the beginning of the 18th century. It boasts many outstanding features, such as the Renatus Harris built organ and spectacular stained glass window. St. Mary’s closed in 1964 and lay derelict for a number of years until it was purchased by John Keating in 1997. Following extensive restoration over a seven year period, this List 1 building finally re-opened its doors in December 2005 as John M. Keating’s Bar. In September 2007 the building was acquired by new owners and renamed “The Church Bar & Restaurant” and its range of services was expanded to include a Café, Juice Bar, Night Club and a Barbeque area on the terrace.
The minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands has classified the building as one of intrinsical historical interest. Important historical figures associated with St. Mary’s include:
- Arthur Guinness – Founder of Guinness Brewery was married here in 1761.
- Sean O’Casey – Playwright & Author of ‘The Plough & The Stars, “Juno & The Paycock’ & ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ was baptised here in 1880.
- Theobald Wolf Tone – United Irishmen Founder was baptised here in 1763
- John Wesley – Founder of the Methodist Church delivered his first Irish sermon here in 1747
- Jonathan Swift – Author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral attended services here.
- The Earl of Charlemont and Irish Volunteer attended services here.
- George Frederic Handel’s Messiah was first publicly performed in Dublin in April 1742 on Fishamble Street and it is known that he regularly used the organ here to practice.
The Bleeding Horse actually has a Facebook fan page. A lil history which I had to get from their hard copy menu….the oldest pub in Dublin? Although the formal date above the door of the pub reads 1710, there is no evidence to suggest that the hostelry was in existence as early as 1649, a full 19 years before the supposed oldest pub in Dublin. But Weston Saint John Joyce in his celebrated work, “the neighborhood of Dublin” 1912 writing of the Battle of Rathmines, fought on August 2nd, 1649 points out that routes 1 and 2 diverged at the place formerly known as The Bleeding Horse for an old inn that stood at the corner of Camden Street and Charlemont Street. (it would seem probable that this hostelry was in existence at the Battle of Rathmines….”
Read for the full pub list? Here goes:
- John Kehoes – very popular even among locals and always packed on weekends
- Neary’s on Chatham Street. Locals love it and it seemed to be the one that people referred me to again and again, though I preferred the charm on all sides of the old Bleeding Horse (I think it had more ‘noise’ to hold my attention for longer, not necessarily a good thing when you’re simply going for a quiet drink with a friend)
- The Bleeding Horse – see above (perhaps the oldest pub in Dublin)
- Cassidy’s Pub
- McDaids on Harry Street beside the Westbury Hotel, is a literary institution which was once frequented by Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh among others.
- Mulligans on Poolbeg Street – they pull great pints of Guinness.
- The Church – historical in countless ways, read above)
- O’Neills on Pearse Street.
- Cobblestone, which borders Smithfield Square, plays traditional music.
- Hughes Bar beside the Four Courts along the Quays, also plays traditional music.
- O’Donoghues on Baggot Street, plays traditional music most nights and while it does attract tourists, plenty of locals slid up the bar alongside me ordering a pint.
- Doheny & Nesbitts on Baggot Street – great snugs/cubicles, etc.
- Toners on Baggot Street – also great snugs/cubicles.
- Brazen Head near Christ Church Cathedral plays traditional music on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights, older than the Bleeding Horse? (is the jury still out?)
- Stags Head on Dame Court, has Victorian opulence with lots of stained glass panels.
Check out the DUBLIN PUB SCENE for more.