The Best Pubs In Dublin That Boast Bucket Loads Of History, Charm And Character

History, charm, character & a great pint

The best pubs in Dublin, for me, aren’t the fancy new boutique bars where you can sip a champagne mojito out of a watering can for the fine aul price of €14.

They’re not the chain gastropubs where you’ll get a pint and a burger for a fiver, and they certainly aren’t the tourist traps that you’l find scattered throughout the cobbled streets of Temple Bar.

For me, the best pubs in Dublin are the old, unique bars that have a heap of history tied to them (and that serve a fine pint, of course).

You can visit a fancy cocktail bar in any country on earth. When visiting the capital, make a point of spending your hard-earned cash in a pub with a difference.

The best pubs in Dublin..

…if you’re after a great pint in a bar with buckets of charm, character and history!

Ready to dive in? Let’s get cracking!

1 – The Confession Box, 88 Marlborough St, Dublin 1

the confession box pub dublin
Photo by psyberartist

The first spot on our guide to the best pubs in Dublin is The Confession Box.

You’ll find it at 88 Marlborough Street on the ground floor of a beautiful old Georgian era building. Dating back to the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921), this pub has a quirky story behind where its name originated.

During the conflict that took place during Ireland’s war for independence from the British, the last know excommunications from the Catholic Church in Ireland took place.

The excommunications were directed against those involved in the rebellion, of which Bishop Daniel Cohalan of Cork and Michael Collins were included.

Back then the pub was known as the Maid of Erin and some of the rebels were known to drop by the pub to receive Communion and Confession from sympathetic priests from the nearby Pro-Cathedral, earning the pub the nickname The Confession Box.

2 – The Oval Bar, 78 Abbey Street Middle, Dublin 1

the oval bar dublin

The story behind Dublin’s Oval Bar is mighty impressive. In the years that led up to 1916, the Oval Bar became a haunt for members of the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers.

On Easter Monday, 1916, the Irish Volunteers captured the General Post Office (GPO) and proclaimed the Irish Republic.

The week that followed brought devastation and destruction to the city of Dublin and the Oval. On the Wednesday, the HMS Helga II sailed up the River Liffey and shelled Liberty Hall and the GPO. A blazing inferno engulfed the city centre, with many buildings, including the Oval, utterly destroyed.

The pub’s owner, John Egan, set about rebuilding the pub and it was able to re-open its doors for business in 1922. Just in time for the civil war… although it shut its doors – the building remained unharmed.

3 – Kehoes, 9 South Anne Street, Dublin 2

kehoes bar dublin
Kehoes bar, Dublin: By Hilary Stock

Kehoe’s Bar, in my opinion, is the best pub in Dublin. Especially on a late Saturday afternoon when you fancy watching a match with a finely poured pint.

The pub boasts a rich literary history. First licensed in 1803, it stands in all its glory as a Victorian shrine, its interior decked out as it was after its 19th century renovation.

Kehoe’s was regularly visited by literary giants Kavanagh, Behan and Myles na gCopaleen. According to legend, John Kehoe was rarely pleased to see the three arrive as their high spirited showmanship clashed with this once strict and conservative pub.

When you enter, have a look around for the serving hatch and buzzer in the snug which both remain exactly as they did 100 years ago.

As if you need any other reason to drop by, Kehoe’s is widely regarded as being home to one of the best pints of Guinness in Dublin.

4 – John Kavanagh’s (The Gravedigger’s), 1 Prospect Square, Dublin 9

the gravediggers pub dublin

Established in 1833, John Kavanagh’s lays claim to the title of the oldest family run pub in Dublin, with the current family the 6th generation to run the business.

Although the exterior is less glamorous than some of the previously mentioned Dublin pubs, Kavanagh’s boats a bountiful history and a quirky nickname to go with it.

You’ll commonly hear this pub referred to as ‘The Gravediggers” because of a tale that stems from the adjoining Glasnevin cemetery.

Many years ago, gravediggers from Glasnevin were known to knock on the back wall of the pub to request a pint. They’d then be served through the railings linking the pub and the graveyard, hence the name.

Kavanagh’s is a genuine unspoiled Victorian bar with a reputation for serving up a cracking pint of the black stuff (it’s also home to one of the cheapest pints of Guinness in Dublin).

5 – Mulligans, 8 Poolbeg St, Dublin 2

mulligans bar dublin
Photo by Gareth Byrne

Mulligan’s has been a cherished public house for generation after generation of Dubliners.

Known for a unique and colourful history that spans over 200 years, it began its life as an unlicensed drinking venue (known as a síbín in Irish) but has been serving up pints legally since 1782.

Over the years, Mulligan’s has hosted everyone from James Joyce to John F. Kennedy. The later visited the premises when he was a journalist with the Hearst Newspaper.
Mulligan’s oozes quirkiness by the gallon.
From it’s old-school decor that includes a grandfather clock that holds the ashes of an American tourist named Billy Brooks Carr, to the several reported ghost sightings, it’s definitely a unique little boozer.
Like the others above, it’s a pub known for a smashing pint of Guinness.

6 – The Brazen Head, 20 Lower Bridge St, Dublin 8

oldest pub in dublin city

The Brazen Head is officially Dublin’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198 when it started off as an eleventh century coach house.

While it’s unclear as to how much of the original coach house still remains, there’s a wealth of history within this busy little pub.

The building that stands today dates back to the 1750’s, and it was known to be used by the United Irishmen while they plotted against British Rule.

Robert Emmet (an Irish nationalist and rebel leader) kept a room at the Brazen Head and it was here that he planned the 1803 rising. Those familiar with James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, may recall the mentioning of the pub – ”you get a decent enough do at the Brazen Head for a bob”.

A tourist favourite, the pub does a roaring trade with live music every night and Irish storytelling on occasion.

7 – The Long Hall, 51 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2

the long haul
Via the Long Hall

The Long Hall is a pub that I’d gladly spend many a weekend afternoon, perched in the corner with a book and a pint, shooting regular glances out the window at the world wafting by along George’s Street.

It’s cosy, beautiful and the service is nothing short of magnificent, which may be partly due to the fact that several of the pubs long-standing barmen have been there for 35+ years.

Licensed since 1766, the Long Hall is one of Dublin’s oldest and most beautiful pubs. The interior, which dates from 1881, has the same Victorian era vibe as the magnificent Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast.

If you’re a fan of Irish rock, you may recognise the Long Haul from Phil Lynott’s video for his hit-song ‘Old Town’ from 1982.

8 – Neary’s, 1 Chatham St, Dublin

nears pub dublin

Our next stop takes us to Neary’s, a UNESCO City of Literature Bar and another great Dublin pub.

This lovely little boozer has a long connection to acting and literary, thanks to its location.

in 1871 the Gaiety Theatre opened. The stage door to the Gaiety is directly opposite the rear entrance to Neary’s. Need I say more?

Nearly all of the pubs original features remain in tact, such as the 4 gas lamps that are still in working condition. some the last working indoor gas lamps in Ireland.

I was here recently. The Guinness is delicious. Although you’d be hard pressed to find a bit of room to stand on a Saturday evening.

9 – McDaid’s, 3 Harry St, Dublin

mcdaids pub dublin

Our next stop is to a pub which once played home to the Dublin City Morgue.

According to the lads at Publin, when the Moravian Brethren took over the building they developed the practice of standing their corpses in a vertical position.

It’s possible that this may be the reason for the pubs high ceilings.

Back in the day poets Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh were both known to frequent McDaid’s.

A mighty Dublin pub for a tipple or three.

Here’s a map of Dublin pubs on our to-sink-a-pint-in list

Is there a pub that you think should be here?

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