Written by Isabel Clift
Sláinte! It means ‘health!’ and in Ireland you use it to toast your first sip of Guinness. In a land famous for its hostelries , it’d be impolite not to join in…
5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed daily around the world, but on St Patrick’s Day that number rises to 13 million! So in order to celebrate this great Irish national holiday properly, here are ten unusual pubs in Ireland for downing a pint of the black stuff…
Find out more about Ireland on our Ireland travel page.
1. Panoramic views: Gravity, Dublin
Good things come to those who wait: every visitor to the Guinness Storehouse below Gravity can travel up to claim a pint at the end of the tour. 360 vistas make this Dubliners’ go-to for flash drinks, too: pop up here at sunset for that perfect pint-with-a-view.
St James’s Gate, Dublin 8
2. Art Deco: Café en Seine, Dublin
Travel back to 1920s Paris for your, er, pint of Guinness via Café en Seine on Dawson Street. A restaurant, bar and nightclub rolling out across several ornate rooms, this is where you sip your pint with your pinkie sticking out, surrounded by oversized lamps, marble columns, polished wood and beautiful people.
39 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
3. Smallest: Dawson Lounge, Dublin
With room for just 24 bums on seats (though usually managing to squeeze in a few more), Dublin’s underground Dawson Lounge might be the smallest pub in Ireland, but the craic is mighty. From the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway entrance to loos directly beneath pavement lights, this is one memorable place for a pint of the black stuff.
25 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
4. Celeb favourite: Harbour Bar, Bray
Harbour Bar is 30 minutes’ drive from Dublin in Bray, with a patrons list that reads like a Who’s Who of Irish celebs: Bono, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Sinead O’Connor and Shane Macgowan have all stopped by, as well as Oliver Reed, Lawrence Olivier and Katherine Hepburn. James Joyce used to live across the road, an in 2010, Lonely Planet voted this the ‘Best Bar in the World’.
1 Strand Rd Bray, Co. Wicklow
5. Spookiest: Grace Neill’s, Donaghadee
Grace Neill’s has the oldest title deeds of any Irish pub, dating back to 1611 – so it’s not surprising there might be a few ghosts rattling around. Haunted by Grace herself, the oak-beamed pub serves award-winning food with its Guinness and puts on Celtic bands. Peter the Great and William Makepeace Thackeray were regulars, too.
33 High Street, Donaghadee, Co. Down
6. Victorian splendour: The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
Gas lighting, snugs and a myriad of textured, patterned surfaces make the Crown Liquor Saloon a gorgeous slice of Victoriana in the centre of modern Belfast. Owned by the National Trust, the restored pub serves everything from fish ‘n’ chips to tiger prawns with chorizo alongside pints of the trusty black stuff.
46 Great Victoria Street Belfast, County Antrim
7. Ship-shape: The Long Valley, Cork
Cheer and charm are your watchwords at Cork’s the Long Valley: a seemingly endless bar in a deep, narrow room (bringing to mind a ship’s hull) serving perfect pints as well as plates of artisan sandwiches on homemade brown. Photos of regulars on the walls and a pair of doors salvaged from the White Star Line HMS Celtic (which ran aground at Cork Harbour) add quirky detail and a strong sense of place.
10 Winthrop Street Mahon, Cork, Co. Cork
8. Oldest: Sean’s Bar, Athlone
For the hotly-contested title of ‘Ireland’s oldest pub,’ the smart money’s on Sean’s Bar in Athlone. The site’s been used as a pub since AD 900, making it the oldest pub in Europe according to the Guinness Book of Records. Displays on the wall show the pub’s original 1100-year-old walls, as well as old coins minted on site.
13 Main Street Athlone, Co. Westmeath
9. Highest: Top of Coom, Kilgarvan
At 1045ft above sea level, this is the highest pub in Ireland – and while this provides our ‘unusual’ reason to go, it’s not what’ll make you stay. Beautiful views of the Cork/Kerry countryside, traditional music, friendly Gaelic-speaking owners and, well, plain old great craic will take care of that.
Kilgarvan, Co Kerry
10. Presidential vote: Ollie Hayes’ Pub, Moneygall
Ollie Hayes’ Pub was the home of perhaps the world’s most-photographed glass of Guinness in 2011, when Barack Obama stopped by for a pint in his great-great-great grandfather’s home town of Moneygall. Downing the pint in four sips, Obama declared “That’s good stuff there.”
Main Street, Moneygall Birr, Co. Offaly
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Thanks to cakesquared, markjhealey, bjaglin, infomatique, sludgeulper and chad_k for the excellent images from Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License. Other images courstesy of cork-guide.ie and graceneills.com