The Irish like their drink. They wouldn’t contest this. Since humans could lift a glass and pour a pint, the Irish have done just that. And where do they do this drinking? Down the pub of course.
Like the UK, Irish pubs are in peril. Over the past twenty-or-so years, 1,000s of boozers have closed their doors, lay slain by the cheap liquor on sale in offies and supermarkets across the Emerald Isle. To top it off – and contrary to belief – the beer served in Irish pubs is crap, steering many-a-thirsty Paddy into the alcohol aisle of the nearest convenience store.
Thanks to a surge in microbreweries supplying pubs with better beer, the future of Ireland’s taverns looks bright. But where should you go to sample the craic on a trip across the Irish Sea? Here’s a shortlist of taverns you should – nay, must – visit during your holiday in Ireland.
Matt Malloys, Westport, Co. Mayo
Owned by Chieftain flutist Matt Malloy, this intimate Westport boozer hosts traditional live music seven nights a week. The ale poured in this Mayo inn are as authentic as the tunes, and the welcome as a warm as the punters squeezing in to listen to them. Visit as soon as possible.
O’Loclainn’s, Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare
Down an unassuming alley in Ballyvaughn is O’Loclainn’s, perhaps the best pub in Ireland. With the feel of someone’s stove-lit front room and an overwhelming whisky selection, this tavern will warm your cockles on a bracing winter’s night. Musicians often set up shop within, so it can be a pleasantly tight squeeze.
Geoff’s, Waterford, Co. Waterford
Whoever Geoff is, he’s the proprietor of a bloomin’ good pub. Reading reviews of the place, you’d think it was a classy joint; all speak of the atmosphere, the delicious food, the tasty stout and the good-natured cliental, but in reality, Geoff’s is a down-to-earth pub that’s the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon.
Sin é, Cork City, Co. Cork
Sin é, Irish for “That’s it”, refers to the funeral parlour next door. As macabre as this sounds, there’s nothing otherworldly about this Cork public house. Candlelit and convivial, Sin e’ is the home of traditional Irish music in Cork city, and has kept dry patrons in drink for over 50 years.
The Corner House, Ardara, Co. Donegal
There are several reasons you should endure the long drive to Co. Donegal, and The Corner House is one of them. Tiny, cosy, and family run, The Corner House features an open fire that’s stoked during the winter months. Plus there’s regular live music. See you there.
Hargadon Bros, Sligo, Co. Sligo
Old pub, modern grub. That about sums up Hargadon Bros, a gem of a boozer in Sligo town. Did I mention their wine cellar, packed to the rafters with speciality vinos? Or their excellent range of local and international ales? Or their staff, who are described as “friendly” more times than I can count on Tripadvisor? No? Must have missed those bits.
The Dame Tavern, Dublin, Co. Dublin
Fancy a sing-along in a proper pub with proper pints? Get yourself down to The Dame Tavern, a Dublin watering hole whose clientele are welcoming to tourists. Located on a historic byway where Google Street View couldn’t tread, you’ll feel at the heart of the Irish capital in this atmospheric wee pub.
Morrisey’s Pub, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois
Morrisey’s Pub is essentially a museum. From the ancient bric-a-brac to the aged clientele, you feel you owe an admission fee before entering the saloon. For the cost of a pint, you can sit and drink amid years of Irish heritage and tradition – what could be better than that?
The Crane Bar, Galway, Co. Galway
The Crane Bar: a foot-stomping, violin thrashing, joy of an establishment. From the moment you set foot in this rustic alehouse, you’re encouraged to join in the craic. With top beer, two floors and a good local to tourist ratio, it won’t take long to get in the swing of things.
The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City, Co. Cork
Sheep used to sleep in this pub. And, JFK and Johnny Cash drank here. Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this admired Cork public house. Candles stuffed in wine necks, torn upholstery, and dire loos add to the charm of this lovable dive. Ask for Sky Sports and you’ll likely find yourself on the pavement.