I’d argue that no guide to the best pubs in Ireland is accurate (including this one).
Most are biased towards the writer’s own experiences or the various Irish pub awards.
What one person thinks is great, another might see as pure and utter shi… you get the picture.
So, a disclaimer: this guide is packed with what I think are the best Irish pubs – these are places that I’ve loved suppin’ pints in and that I’m confident you’ll love too!
The best pubs in Ireland
The vast majority of the places below are old-school, traditional Irish bars (most of which pour a decent pint of Guinness!).
If there are any bars in Ireland that you think we need to add, shout in the comments section below!
1. Hopkins Bar (Sligo)
I fell in love with Hopkins Bar in Enniscrone last summer. This place is the blueprint for what every Irish pub should aspire to be:
- An old-school interior
- A very friendly buzz to it
- A great pint
When you walk through its doors you have a fairly snug little front bar where, if you manage to nab a seat, you’ll feel like you’re perched in someones living room.
As you make your way out back you’ll find what was once a kitchen with a few seats.
There’s also a spacious beer garden. This is one of the best pubs in Ireland, in my opinion, for good reason!
2. Moran’s Of Mornington (Meath)
Moran’s of Mornington hugs the River Boyne on the Meath side and has been quenching the thirst of locals and passing visitors since the 1800s.
Look out for the imposing oak tree soaring over the pub’s entrance and make your way through the swing doors into no-nonsense pub with a roaring fire during the colder months.
There’s a nice big beer garden out the back, the service is top-notch and it boasts an interior that feels like it hasn’t changed in 100 years!
3. McLynn’s Bar (Sligo)
Hidden away up Old Market St. in the heart of Sligo Town, McLynn’s Bar is one of the best Irish pubs I’ve encountered in recent years when it comes to live music.
A fourth-generation family business, the folks at McLynn’s have been serving up pints since 1889.
The mahogany interior is absolutely gorgeous and there’s a fire is roaring away during the chilly months.
I was here on a Saturday last summer and there was a trad session in full swing.
Glorious Guinness combined with great bar service and a fine wallop of trad made my last visit here a memorable one.
4. Toby’s (Mayo)
Westport is home to one of the most famous pubs in Ireland – Matt Molloy’s. But I’m taking a detour from busy Bridge St. to the Fairgreen to visit Toby’s, next.
I first visited Toby’s during a heatwave with my aul lad a few summers back. It was a Sunday and when we walked into the pokey front bar the place literally went silent.
We stopped, thinking ‘Sh*te, we’re about to be ran out of this place’, but what followed was a fair bit of friendly abuse and then we were in and settled.
I’ve returned to Toby’s many time since. On each occasion I’ve felt welcome and my custom appreciated, which is rare these days.
The Guinness is great at Toby’s, as are the people. Another of the best pubs in Ireland, in my books!
5. The Gravediggers (Dublin)
Reputed to pour the best pint of Guinness in Dublin, the nickname ‘the Gravediggers’ comes from its proximity to Glasnevin Cemetary.
Dating back to 1833, the old-world interior is beautiful and the atmosphere is enhanced further by the lack of music or TV.
A nice combo for an afternoon out is to head for a ramble in the Botanic Gardens, take a tour of Glasnevin and then nip into the Gravediggers, to top it off!
It’s also one of the only dog friendly bars in Ireland in this guide!
6. Tigh Neachtain (Galway)
Run by the Neachtain family since 1894, it hosts some of Galway’s finest trad music and it was even attacked in the War of Independence by the Black and Tans who objected to the family displaying their name in Irish.
This is one of the best pubs in Ireland if you manage to grab a seat – the exterior seating provides some of Galway’s best people watching while the ones inside are generally like gold dust come the evening.
7. O’Connell’s (Meath)
Another of the more famous Irish pubs thanks to its appearance in the now-iconic Guinness Christmas ad is O’Connell’s of Skryne.
Pub interiors don’t get much more homely than O’Connell’s, with mahogany chairs, white panelled walls and a crackling fire come winter.
O’Connell’s has one of the most uniquely picturesque locations of any bars in Ireland in this guide.
Finely plonked on top of Skyrne Hill, the pub (well, the outside anyway!) boasts sweeping views of the Boyne Valley to accompany your creamy pint!
8. Peadar O’Donnell’s (Derry)
Derry’s Peadar O’Donnell’s is one of many Irish pubs in this guide that I wish were about 4 hours closer to my home.
Standing proudly on Waterloo Street, Peadar’s has some lovely cosy nooks where you can plonk yourself for an hour or 5.
From the moment its vibrant exterior greets your eyes, you get the sense that something special lies just beyond its bright blue doors.
Inside is decked out in old Irish pub memorabilia and weathered mahogany. They also host regular trad sessions at the weekend.
9. Johnnie Fox’s (Dublin)
Nestled in the lofty heights of the Dublin Mountains, Johnnie Fox’s is another of the more famous pubs in Ireland, thanks to its Hooley Show.
For a long time, I thought of Fox’s as spot for tourists only, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We recently took the shuttle that leaves from Dublin City (a bargain at €10 return) and headed up into the mountains.
The experience here kicks-off with the gorgeous, olde world exterior. You then make your way through a bar that’s like something from a Lord of the Rings movie.
As you nurse your drink, your eyes can’t help but wander around the different artefacts and bits-and-bobs that adorn the walls. Throw in great food and consistently friendly service and you’ve a recipe for a memorable night.
10. Bittles Bar (Antrim)
Famous for its unique ‘flat-iron’ appearance (imagine a smaller version of New York’s Flatiron Building!), Bittles impresses from the word ‘go’.
As you wait for your drink, take a moment to gaze around the historic Victorian bar – there’s a combination of eclectic artwork and portraits of Irish literary and sporting heroes covering the walls.
If you’re fond of your Irish whiskey brands, you’ll find a generous collection on offer at Bittles.
10. Tigh Ned (Inis Oirr)
One of the most memorable pints that I’ve had in recent years was nursed outside of Tigh Ned on Inis Oirr Island.
You’ll find Tigh Ned 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.
This is one of the best bars in Ireland when it comes to beer gardens – on a fine day, you’ll have glorious sea views.
11. Thomas Connolly (Sligo)
Another of the more historic Irish pubs is Sligo Town’s Thomas Connolly – the county’s oldest pub. It was once visited by iconic Nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell during the inn’s early days.
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.
Fast forward to 2023 and it’s a lively spot right by the river with a lovely spacious snug right inside the door!
12. Gartlan’s (Cavan)
You’ll find Gartlan’s in Kingscourt in Cavan, where it’s been present since the previous owner, George Gartlan, bought it in 1911.
The building itself dates back to 1780 and is a relic of what many Irish towns and villages once looked like.
Admire its thatch roof from the outside first. Innside the heritage continues and its rustic walls are full of old bric-a-brac and nooks and crannies.
This is one of many Irish pubs in this guide well known locally for its trad sessions!
13. Dick Mack’s (Kerry)
It was the off season, the place was quietish and we managed to get a seat in the front bar – a great people watching spot.
Dick Mack’s has been on-the-go since 1899 and its in-house leather workshop only adds to its unique charm.
There’s also a brewhouse on-site and the action (and twice-daily guided tours) takes place in a building dating back to the 1850s.
14. De Barra’s Folk Club (Cork)
De Barra’s Folk Club in Clonakilty is one of the best pubs in Ireland when it comes to live music. De Barra’s is a small pub with a big reputation!
The quality of the live music on offer in quaint Cork town is second to none and long-standing associations with the likes of Christy Moore and Roy Harper have only added to this spot’s recognition.
Come for the nightly music and enjoy the beautiful decor, excellent beers and buzzy atmosphere.
15. Sean’s Bar (Westmeath)
You’ll see Sean’s Bar listed as the best pub in Ireland in many articles online. It’s the oldest, anyway, and it dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970.
It’s the oldest of the many bars in Ireland and it packs a punch. There’s a fine bit of space in Sean’s, with the seats on either side of the fireplace the most coveted.
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.
16. The Cottage Bar (Donegal)
While the Cottage Bar in Letterkenny grabs the attention with its charming green and white exterior, it’s what’s inside that really makes this Donegal pub shine.
Hundreds of white teacups hang from the low wooden ceilings and the white wall by the fire is draped in a myriad of old pots and pans.
The rustic feel inside has a fine homely feel to it! Pair that up with some great trad music and you won’t want to leave these cracking confines.
17. The Crosskeys Inn (Antrim)
Another of the best bars in Ireland, in my opinion, is Antrim’s Crosskeys Inn, located off the main Randalstown to Portglenone road.
This gorgeous old Irish pub dates back to 1654. A stone-built cottage with whitewashed walls, it’s almost like stepping back in time when you enter and the Guinness is some of the finest in the land.
Look out for the live trad music every Saturday, alongside impromptu sessions on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings.
18. Mother Macs (Limerick)
Known locally as the Roundhouse due to its bright blue circular appearance, Mother Macs in Limerick is a pub worth seeking out if you’re exploring the city.
Although the building dates back to 1787, Mother Macs only opened in 2015, making it one of the younger Irish pubs in this guide.
However, despite its age, it has the feel of an old-school Irish pub – there’s no TV and, if you manage to get a seat, it’s one of the best pubs in the area for a yap with friends.
19. Blakes of the Hollow (Fermanagh)
Home to one of the best preserved Victorian bars in Ireland, Blakes of the Hollow in Fermanagh was established as a pub in 1887.
The name ‘Blake’ became associated with the pub when it was purchased by Catherine Blake in 1929.
When you walk inside, you’ll wonder if much has changed in the nearly 100 years since Catherine purchased it, and I mean that in the best sense possible.
Although you’ll have stiff competition, try and nab one of the snugs and tuck yourself away for an hour or three in one of the best traditional bars in Ireland.
20. Murphy’s Bar (Kerry)
One of the best pubs in Ireland when it comes to location can be found in the village of Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula.
Inside Murphy’s Bar you’ll find an open fire, maritime memorabilia on the walls, some great seafood and even better Guinness.
Those that visit can enjoy views out over Brandon Bay and the surrounding hills and mountains. In the summer, there’s few pubs like it on the Wild Atlantic Way.
21. McConville’s Bar (Armagh)
Standing proudly on the corner of West St. and Mandeville St. in the heart of Portadown, McConville’s Bar has been an institution for over 150 years.
Inside this ancient Irish pub, you’ll find the original wooden snugs, 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.
22. Smugglers Creek Inn (Donegal)
Boasting one of the more intriguing Irish pub names is the brilliant Smugglers Creek Inn in Donegal.
This is another of the best pubs in Ireland view wise can be found overlooking the long golden Rossnowlagh Beach and Donegal Bay.
With these majestic vistas looking out toward the Blue Stack Mountains, there are few bars in Ireland that can compete when it comes to pairing up views with pints!
23. Dan and Molly’s (Offaly)
The only straw-thatched pub in Offaly, Dan and Molly’s is a local institution with a welcome as charming as that famous old roof.
Located in Ballyboy outside Kilcormac, it’s a friendly spot that’s famous around the county for its impromptu music and dancing sessions in the front parlour.
But if all that excitement is a bit too much, then it’s also a perfect spot for a pint and a chat, especially in the winter when the pot-bellied stove and open turf fire keeps everything nice and toasty inside.
24. South Pole Inn (Kerry)
Plenty of bars in Ireland are crammed with memorabilia, but few have a collection quite like Kerry’s South Pole Inn!
The curious name comes from former owner Tom Crean, a legendary Antarctic explorer and local who was part of Ernest Shackleton’s doomed expedition vying to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica.
This cosy spot in Annascaul now has walls adorned with photos covering Crean’s exploits in the harshest conditions known to man (which I imagine makes you appreciate these warm confines even more!).
25. An Uisce Beatha (Waterford)
There aren’t many ‘hidden gems’ when it comes to pubs in Ireland, but Waterford’s An Uisce Beatha is an exception.
It’s rare you’ll hear this place mentioned outside of Waterford, but that makes it all the more satisfying when you stumble upon it.
The interior of this place charms you upon first sight – the front bar looking like something more suited to a museum than a pub.
From my experience, the staff here are excellent. There’s also live music on the regular.
26. The Rusty Mackerel (Donegal)
It’s easy to see why locals and tourists alike fall in love with this place – you won’t get much more rustic than the Rusty Mackerel.
During the winter months, you’ll find an open fire crackling away right next to the bar. During the summer months, there’s a seating area with glorious mountain views.
27. The Beach Bar (Sligo)
Sat serenely on the unspoiled Aughris Beach in Sligo Bay, the Beach Bar offers one of Ireland’s most spectacular settings for a pint in the sun!
If the thatch roof wasn’t charming enough, then the majestic sweeping views including the distant shapes of Knocknarea and Benbulben could persuade anyone to spend several hours here.
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.
28. Clarkes Bar (Louth)
Clarkes Bar was built in 1850 but didn’t become a pub until 1900, and it’s also long been linked with the arts.
In fact, in that same year, Ireland’s foremost visual artist Nano Reid was born and lived on these premises with her family until 1926 when the pub was sold.
Inside, the pub still has all of that turn-of-the-century charm and it’s one of several great pubs in Drogheda.
Well known to be home to the area’s best drop of Guinness, this is a place worthy of your pub bucket list.
29. Mutton Lane Inn (Cork)
You’ll find the Mutton Lane Inn down a narrow, mural-splashed alleyway off Cork’s main drag and it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave once settled in!
The low-lit interior adds an aura of mystique to a pub that claims to be one of the oldest in the city and here they serve up some excellent Irish beers from Cork’s own Rising Sons Brewery.
This is a cosy pub that’s lit by candles and fairy lights and that has a warm homely buzz to it.
30. McDermott’s Pub (Clare)
Although many visit Doolin to refuel before heading to the Cliffs of Moher, there’s some great pubs in this County Clare village.
While I’m a big fan of one of the more famous bars in Ireland that calls Doolin home, Gus O’Connor’s, McDermott’s Pub is where I find myself returning to.
Great food, plenty of corners to sit yourself in with a group and trad music regularly scheduled, McDermott’s is hard to bate.
31. The Sky and The Ground (Wexford)
Named after Wexford musician Pierce Turner’s song The Sky and the Ground, this Wexford pub is worth having on your radar.
I don’t generally partake in mid-week pints, but I ended up here on a sunny Tuesday evening last summer with the intention of leaving after one.
It was five slow pints later when I managed to tear myself away from it’s gorgeous old-world interior.
It pains me that this place is so far from where I live. It was quiet when I was there, but I’ve heard that there’s regular music sessions and a lively buzz on the weekends.
32. Cleere’s Bar & Theatre (Kilkenny)
Another of the top pubs in Ireland when it comes to music is Kilkenny’s Cleere’s Bar & Theatre!
Yes, you can expect plenty of fine beer here (especially with Smithwick’s being the local brewery), but evenings can serve up everything from comedy and poetry to music and visual arts.
The old wooden bar and tiled floor make this a lovely place to sit down and quietly sip your pint too, if all the excitement at the 100-seater venue at the rear is a little much.
33. JJ Houghs Singing Pub (Offaly)
Last but by no means least in our guide to the best pubs in Ireland can be found hidden behind a mass of creeping vines in Banagher in Offaly.
The exterior of JJ Houghs Singing Pub looks every inch its 250 years and it gives you a sense of what’s on offer inside – an Irish pub that’s traditional to its core.
There’s live music to be found here regularly, unsurprisingly enough, and there’s a decent sized beer garden for those often-rare sunny pints.
Our Ireland pubs map
Our Ireland pubs map map was originally created in June of 2018.
Back then, it had 100 Irish pubs that either myself or my family or friends had visited and could vouch for.
Since then, it’s grown. A lot. It now contains:
- The best pubs in Ireland for every county (I hope!)
- Pubs that myself, family and/or friends have been to and loved
- Pubs that are heavily reviewed and recommended online
What great Irish pubs have we missed?
At the beginning of this guide, I explained that this article contained what I believed were the best pubs in Ireland.
I’ve no doubt we’ve missed some brilliant Irish pubs. If you have one to recommend, shout in the comments!
Ireland pub FAQs
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the weirdest Irish pub names?’ to ‘What are the oldest Irish bars?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What city has the best pubs in Ireland?
This is highly debatable. Being from Dublin, I’m going to say the best bars in Ireland are here. We’ve plenty of them, from Kehoe’s and the Long Hall to Kavanagh’s and many more.
What is the most famous pub in Ireland?
The most famous bars in Ireland are The Temple Bar, Johnnie Fox’s, The Brazen Head and Sean’s Bar (the oldest of the many Irish pubs).
What are the best bars in Ireland?
Again, highly debatable. In my opinion, the best bars in Ireland are McLynn’s Bar (Sligo), Moran’s Of Mornington (Meath) and Hopkins Bar (Sligo).
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.