Now, let’s clear something up before we dive into this – what I regard as the best pubs in Ireland might be your idea of hell.
I like old school pubs.
And quirky bars – but not new/modern quirky. I’m talking about old, traditional, off-the-beaten-path-and-in-random-locations quirky.
That’s what you’ll find below. 36 of them.
The best pubs in Ireland
Is there a pub that we haven’t included that needs to be added? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this guide.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. The Crosskeys Inn (the oldest thatch pub in Ireland), Antrim
This. Place. Is. CLASS.
The gorgeous old Crosskeys Inn is the oldest thatch pub in Ireland. It’s also arguably one of the best looking the island has to offer.
Known for its traditional music and Guinness, the Crosskeys Inn is an authentic traditional Irish pub that dates back to pre-1654.
2. Teach Beag, Clonakilty
I ended up in An Teach Beag on a miserable Monday evening in April 5 or 6 years ago.
This is another Irish pub that looks like something whipped straight from the face of a thousand postcards.
On the evening that I was there, there was traditional music being played by two lads and the Guinness was velvety.
A lovely pub.
3. McCarthy’s (a pub that doubles as an undertakers), Tipperary
McCarthy’s Pub in Fethard has been on my to-sink-a-pint in list for a long time now.
I can see myself sat happily perched on the weathered wooden bench above for many an hour.
This Irish pub comes with a bit of a twist – it’s a pub that doubles up as an undertakers.
The pub, which was established by Richard McCarthy in the 1850s, boasts that they’ll ‘Wine you, dine you, and bury you’.
4. O’Shea’s (as old-world as they come), Carlow
As you’ve probably gathered at this stage, I love old-world style pubs.
And they don’t get much more old-world than this beaut of a spot in Borris in County Carlow.
O’Shea’s Pub is a charming, traditional pub that has been owned by the O’Shea family for several generations.
The building that it occupies has operated as a grocer and a pub since way back in the 19th century.
5. Tigh Ned, Galway (Inis Oirr Island)
One of the most memorable pints that I’ve had in recent years was nursed outside of Tigh Ned on Inis Oirr Island.
I’m literally drooling just looking at the photo above…
You’ll find this spot a stone’s throw from the pier and it’s the perfect place to nip into after an afternoon spent walking or cycling around the island.
6. Thomas Connolly, Sligo
If you’ve been to Sligo and missed out on an evening in Thomas Connolly’s, then you need to whack it on your to-visit list.
This place is cracking.
The pub was first licensed in 1861 and was bought by Thomas Connolly in 1890 – the same year that he became the Mayor of Sligo.
If you’re looking for a solid old-school Irish pub that places an emphasis on a solid pint and traditional music, get yourself here.
7. The 107-year old Gartlan’s pub, Cavan
You’ll find Gartlan’s pub in Kingscourt in Cavan, where it’s been present since the previous owner, George Gartlan, bought it in 1911.
Now, if you plan on dropping in here, try and do it on a Thursday or Sunday.
If you do you’ll be treated to a clatter of live music (pints are optional).
A lovely old traditional Irish pub.
8. O’Connell’s, Meath (yes, it’s the pub from the Guinness Christmas ad)
OK, the chances are that when you visit O’Connell’s pub in Skryne, Meath, it won’t look as Christmassy as it does in the photo above.
This pub has been in the O’Connell family since at least the 1850s and it’s another old-world pub that boasts wooden ceilings, antiques, and its fine drop of Guinness.
There’s also a deadly view, thanks to its position on the Hill of Skryne.
9. McConville’s Pub, Armagh (it has an interesting link to the Titanic)
McConville’s pub in Armagh has been present in Portadown since the 1800s.
Inside this ancient pub, you’ll find the original wooden snugs (all kinds of want!), molded ceilings and etched windows.
There’s also an interesting link to the Titanic.
The story goes that some of the Russian oak fixtures in the pub were replicated from a design on Titanic.
10. Nancy’s, Donegal
Nancy’s Pub in the little town of Ardara in Donegal is one of the best pubs in Ireland.
I’ve spent two winter evenings here over the years and the place was hopping on both occasions.
The service was top-notch and the food was mighty.
If you’re visiting Donegal and looking to experience an Irish pub at its finest, get yourself in here for an evening.
11. The Gravediggers, Dublin
It’s said that you’ll find the best pint of Guinness in Dublin in Glasnevin, in an old-school pub known as the Gravediggers (John Kavanagh’s).
Now, I’ve nursed pints of Guinness in many pubs in Dublin over the years, but for one reason or another, I never managed to get out as far as John Kavanagh’s. That was until last month.
The Gravediggers is special. Simple. The service is the best that I’ve received in a pub in years, the Guinness is insanely good, and the inside looks like I’d imagine it did when it first opened.
Oh, and on the day we were there there was a dog chilling next to us. U.N.R.E.A.L. Spot.
Related read: Check out our guide to 13 pubs pouring the best Guinness in Dublin
12. Geoff’s Bar, Waterford
I always find it surprising when I’m chatting to someone that’s spent the weekend in Waterford City and that’s managed to miss Geoff’s.
There’s many a pub in Waterford, but few are as fine as this place.
If you can, try and nab the seat near the window – there’s no better place in the county to do a bit of people watching.
13. The Glyde Inn, Louth
The Glyde Inn was awarded National Pub of The Year and Irish Food Pub of the Year in 2018 at the Irish Pub Awards.
Translation: the food and pints are deadly, so get yourself here.
This traditional Irish pub and boasts impressive sea views and a menu that’ll have you itching to come back for more.
14. Smugglers Creek Inn (Donegal)
The Smugglers Creek Inn in Donegal is a pub that I’ve been itching to get to ever since we published a guide to the most scenic pints in Ireland.
Those that visit this lovely little pub will be treated to unbeatable views out over the magnificent Rossnowlagh beach and Donegal Bay.
15. The Harbour Bar, Bray
I’ve never had a pub recommended to me as much as the Harbour Bar in Bray.
This cosy traditional pub was established back in 1872, and over the years has welcomed everyone from Katharine Hepburn to Bono through its doors.
If you’re visiting Wicklow and looking for an old-school Irish pub that oozes charm and character by the boat-load, get yourself here.
At one stage, the Harbour Bar doubled up as an undertakers. It’s also said that the pub is immortalised somewhere in James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake‘.
16. JJ Houghs Singing Pub
When we published this article originally a few months back, we left JJ Houghs out. Not intentionally, but we did.
Since then, I’ve had an absolute clatter of emails and messages from people telling me about this place.
You’ll find JJ Houghs Singing Pub on the Main Street of Banagher, in County Offaly. There’s said to be a solid pint and an even better trad session that takes place here three nights a week.
17. Kytelers Inn, Kilkenny (once owned by Ireland’s first condemned witch)
Yes, a witch.
Kytelers Inn dates back to 1263. It was established by Dame Alice de Kyteler – the first recorded person to be condemned for witchcraft in Ireland.
I won’t go into the story behind this pub (you can read more here) but I’ve been here a handful of times over the years and can vouch for the food.
If you’re after a pub with a quirky history, this’ll be right up your street.
18. The 200-year-old Maghera Inn, Down
Next up is a pub known for A+ service, A++ pints, and its lengthy history.
The Maghera Inn in County Down is a 200-year-old pub that’s the perfect spot for a post-adventure pint if you’ve been off hiking for the day.
Here’s what the folks that run it have to say:
‘The Maghera Inn may look like a quaint, understated Northern Ireland pub restaurant, but inside we’re special. We’ve a bar that’s packed with exotic brands; we’re renowned for the quality of our Guinness; and we’ve a menu that will titillate the taste buds of even the most demanding gourmand.’
19. The Thatch Crinkill, Offaly
This place is gorgeous.
You’ll find the Thatch in the little village of Crinkill in County Offaly.
The building, which has been owned by the same family for over 200 years, is home to a fine traditional Irish pub where, according to those running it, ‘guests from near and far are welcomed with open arms to enjoy a drink or some contemporary Irish cuisine’.
20. Sean’s Bar (the Oldest Pub in Ireland), Athlone
For over 1,000 years a pub smack bang in the middle of Ireland has been catering to the needs of weary travellers and locals alike.
Sean’s Bar dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970.
One of the original walls that was discovered during the excavation remains on show in the pub, and the rest, along with coins that were also discovered, sit inside Dublin’s National History Museum.
21. Peadar O’Donnell’s, Derry
If you’re planning on exploring Derry City, chisel out some time for a pint in Peadar O’Donnell’s.
Like many of the pubs in this guide, this place is reputed to serve a fine velvety drop of Guinness to those that ramble through its doors.
There’s also traditional and contemporary music played every night of the week, for those of you looking to go hopping about the place.
22. The Crane Bar, Galway
The Crane Bar is said to be one of the best traditional music pubs in Ireland.
It’s also one of the most frequently missed pubs in Galway, for some reason!
If you’re visiting Galway and looking to spend the evening listening to a few tunes while you kick back with a pint, get yourself to the Crane.
23. Grace Neill’s, Down
Grace Neill’s in Donaghadee in County Down is one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, with an impressive 400 years of service.
The pub was first established in 1611 as ‘The Kings Arms’. It was later named after Grace Neill, who was given the pub as a wedding present from her father.
There’s also a rumour that it’s called ‘home’ by a ghost or two. According to their website, Grace Neill’s has been visited by ‘smugglers, pirates, sailors and soldiers over the years’.
24. The Beach Bar, Sligo
The Beach Bar in Sligo is special. It’s a gorgeous, traditional Irish thatched pub nestled right beside the sea that boasts views of the Ox mountains and the majestic peaks of Knocknarea and Benbulben.
You can chill from the comfort of this old-school pub while lapping up the views or you can tip outside, perch yourself on the wall across from the pub and gulp down some fresh sea breeze while you nurse a pint.
25. Dolan’s, Limerick
It’s been a few years since I was last in Dolan’s pub in Limerick.
There was a group of us in the city for the weekend and the lady running our B&B told us that if we didn’t enjoy it, she’d give us the night’s accommodation for half price.
We went. We supped many a pint. We bopped our head to the live music. And the craic was had. A mighty pub.
26. Foxy Johns (yep, it’s a hardware store/pub), Kerry
Foxy John’s is one of my favourite pubs in Ireland.
Those that ramble through its doors will find that it’s a hardware store, a bike hire spot and a traditional Irish pub all rolled into one.
Expect to see everything from Irish whiskey to rat poison rocking around this place.
27. Matt Molloy’s, Mayo
Some of my most my memorable days in Mayo were rounded off with a night in Matt Molloy’s in Westport Town.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a night of craic and music in a buzzy pub, whack Matt Molloy’s on your list.
28. Hargadon’s, Sligo
The next time you visit Sligo Town, take a little detour off the main street and nip into Hargadon’s.
It’ll feel like you’ve just taken a step back in time, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Established back in 1868, Hardagon’s is home to gorgeous panelled snugs, old stone floors, and the charm and character that’s becoming increasingly hard to come by in Irish pubs these days.
29. The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork
You’ll find the Mutton Lane Inn, one of Cork’s oldest pubs, down a pokey alley off Patrick’s St, in the City.
Mutton Lane is one of the many alleyways that leads into Cork’s iconic English Market. Back in the day, this lane was used to funnel sheep into the market.
This is a cosy pub that’s lit by candles and fairy lights, and it’s small, it packs a mighty punch.
30. Tigh Neachtain, Galway
Neachtain’s in Galway is arguably the best pub in Ireland.
If you arrive on a warm or dry evening, try and nab a seat outside. There’s no better place in Galway for a bit of people watching.
In the colder months, there’s a roaring fire on the go.
The only drawback is that it’s often near impossible to get a seat, but it’s well worth trying your luck.
31. Anderson’s Thatch Pub, Roscommon
If you haven’t already guessed, I love a thatch pub.
Andersons, or “The Thatch” as it’s referred to locally, is another Irish pub that’s renowned for its traditional Irish music, which takes place every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Dating back to 1734, it’s also of great historical interest and has been featured in an endless number of travel guides.
It also looks incredible.
32. The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast
I’ve always thought that the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast was an absolute ringer for the Leaky Cauldron pub from the Harry Potter series.
Another old Irish pub, this spot dates back to 1826.
Formerly known as ‘The Liquor Saloon in Great Victoria Street’, this pub was once regarded as one of the mightiest Victorian gin palaces in the land.
33. Murphy’s, Kerry
Murphy’s in Brandon in County Kerry is another pub that we originally left off of this list… and it’s one that we received a slating for, from tourists and locals alike.
You’ll find Murphy’s Bar in the village of Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula where it’s finely plonked on Brandon Pier.
Those that visit can enjoy views out over Brandon Bay and the surrounding hills and mountains. The food here is also said to be top-notch!
34. Clarkes, Louth
We’re back to Louth next with a trip into Clarke’s – arguably the best of the old school pubs in Drogheda.
This pub was built waaaaayyyy back in 1850 and it’s thought that it started its life as a Grocery Store.
50 years later, in 1900, a chap named Thomas Reid transferred his Pub License from Little Denmark Street in Dublin to 19 Peter Street Drogheda and started to trade as a grocer and spirit merchant.
Today, Clarke’s is a no-nonsense pub that serves some of the finest Guinness for miles around (I’m speaking from experience and a mighty hangover).
35. Gus O’Connor’s, Clare
If you’ve ever visited Doolin, the chances are you’ll have nipped into Gus O’Connors Pub for a feed and a few pints.
This spot is finely placed on Doolin’s gorgeous Fisher St. where it’s been welcoming tourists and locals alike since 1832.
If you visit during the summer months, there are music sessions on from around 9pm each evening.
36. The 125-year old Blakes of the Hollow, Fermanagh
Blakes of the Hollow in County Fermanagh is one of the best-known Victorian pubs in Ireland.
Located in Enniskillen, this Irish pub has been keeping visitors watered for over 125 years.
Here’s how the folks that run it describe it:
‘The bar keeps its tradition to the best of its ability and yet suits all different age groups. The snugs are a testament to this, crowded with groups of people looking for a famously poured pint of Guinness or a delicious Irish coffee. Live traditional music is played every Friday creating a genuine Irish pub atmosphere that is not one to be missed.’
37. Kehoe’s, Dublin
Kehoe’s is one of the best pubs in Dublin.
It boasts a rich literary history and was first licensed back in 1803.
it stands now in all its glory as a Victorian shrine, its interior decked out as it was after its 19th-century renovation.
A solid spot in the city for a pint – just try and dodge it on a Friday evening, as it’s packed with an after-work crowd.
38. Dick Mack’s, Kerry
Ah, if I could make any pub in this guide my local, it’d be Dick Mack’s.
You just can’t beat this place.
Located at the heart of Dingle Town (opposite the Church) Dick Mack’s has a little bit of something for everyone.
I’ve visited with a group of friends for a lively Saturday night out the back, and spent a chilled Wednesday evening in the front bar, watching people coming and going and chatting away to tourists.
A cracking pub.
39. James Griffin Pub, Meath
We’re back to County Meath next to nip into the James Griffin Pub.
Located in Trim, this pub has been knocking around since the 1800s.
If you visit on a Thursday, you’ll have a Trad Session to accompany your pint. Those visiting on a Friday or Sunday will be treated to Acoustic Sessions, while a DJ will be rocking away on Saturdays.
40. The Stanford Village Inn, Leitrim
If you happen to find yourself in Dromahair in Leitrim, make sure to drop into the lads in the Stanford Village Inn.
This is a gorgeous old-world pub (tap play above) that’ll make you question why you ever whittled away time and cash in gastro pubs and swanky cocktail bars over the years.
A unique public house that’s well worth a visit.
41. Dan and Molly’s, Offaly
We’re off to the little village of Ballyboy in County Offaly next to visit a gorgeous thatch pub called Dan and Molly’s.
If you read our guide to the best towns and villages in Ireland for a weekend of hikes and pints, you’ll recognise this place.
Expect a lovely old-world interior, live trad sessions and a handful of cosy corners to tuck yourself away in for an evening.
42. Neary’s, Dublin
The final location on our guide to the best pubs in Ireland is Neary’s in Dublin. Interestingly enough, this is a UNESCO City of Literature Bar.
This lovely little pub has a long connection to acting and the literary community, which date’s back to 1871 when the Gaiety Theatre opened (the stage door to the Gaiety is directly opposite the rear entrance to Neary’s).
I spent a memorable Saturday evening here recently, flaked out on one of the old-school chairs near the bar, tipping away at pints and chatting sh*te. As you do.
387 of the best pubs in Ireland on an interactive map
This map was originally created in June of 2018.
Back then, it had 100 pubs that either myself or my family or friends had visited and could vouch for.
Since then, it’s grown. A lot.
We’ve had hundreds of messages and emails with recommendations of great pubs to add.
So, we took time to check out the recommendations and added where and when appropriate.
How to use the map
To use the map, simply bookmark this page.
You’ll then have it ready in your arsenal for when you arrive in a town weary from travelling and in the humour for kicking back with a drink in a great Irish pub.
Just zoom in on wherever you are and you’ll be given a load of options of great pubs to drop into.
How I’ve picked the pubs included in the map
The vast majority of the pubs included have been pinned as a result of a personal experience or a recommendation from family, friends, or the Irish Road Trip community.
On top of that, I’ve also used jar.ie (a fantastic resource for finding the best pubs in Ireland) and TripAdvisor along with Google Reviews.
Naturally, I’ve missed out on some great spots for a tipple – so I’ve left the comments section below open for your suggestions. Please do let me know if there’s somewhere that needs to be added.
How many pubs in Ireland are actually open?
I get this question quite a bit through our DMs on Instagram.
According to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), as of August 2019, 7,140 pubs in were open and operating in Ireland.
The figures showed that there were 1,477 fewer pubs in Ireland in 2018 than in 2005. A 17.1% drop.
Oldest pubs in Ireland
Like many people, I’ve known that the oldest pub in Ireland is Sean’s Bar for quite some time.
But I’ve never really known what other ancient pubs lie around the island.
So, I did a bit of digging.
Here are 8 of the oldest pubs in Ireland
- Johnny Fox’s Dublin, 1798
- McHugh’s Bar, Belfast, 1711
- Gateway Bar, Cork City – 1698
- Morahan’s, Roscommon, 1641
- Grace Neill’s, Down, 1611
- Kyteler’s Inn, Kilkenny, 1263
- Brazen Head, Dublin, 1198 AD
- Sean’s Bar, Athlone, 900 AD
And that, ladies and gents, is a wrap. Have a great pub to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!
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