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7 Of The Oldest Pubs In Dublin That Boast History, Charm + Character

7 Of The Oldest Pubs In Dublin That Boast History, Charm + Character

There are endless pubs in Dublin. But it’s the oldest pubs in Dublin that pack a punch.

It was for good reason that James Joyce once posed the question of how to cross Dublin without passing a pub.

As iconic as red post boxes in London or yellow taxi cabs in New York, pubs have been a part of Dublin life for centuries.

In the guide below, you’ll discover the oldest pubs in Dublin, from the very old Brazen Head to the very old and very beautiful Man O’War Public House.

The oldest pubs in Dublin City

oldest bars in dublin

Photos via Kehoe’s Dublin

The first section of this guide is packed with the oldest pubs in Dublin City. Later, you’ll find the oldest pubs from across the winder county.

Scroll to discover some historical haunts, from Kehoe’s and Slattery’s to the Stag’s Head and much more.

1. The Brazen Head (1198)

brazen head

Photos via the Brazen Head on Facebook

Very much the reigning champion of ancient pubs in Dublin, and by some distance! Proudly boasting on a scroll of painted parchment on the pub’s whitewashed walls that it dates back to 1198, the Brazen Head is the King of Dublin’s old pubs and is also one of its most popular. 

And while there’s some debate about whether they’ve actually been serving beer here since that almost mythical date, the Brazen Head does appear in documents from at least 1653 which would still be enough to be number 1 in our list by a good 100 years or so.

2. The Stag’s Head (1770)

stags head dublin

Photos via The Stag’s Head

Amid the bright lights and colourful crisscrossed bunting of Dame Lane lies The Stag’s Head, an ornate old pub dating back to around 1770. Surprisingly inauspicious from the outside, it’s the gorgeous Victorian interior that sets this place apart from its competition. 

The stunning mahogany interior, stained glass windows and actual stag’s head gives this spot a real old-world feel.

Don’t forget to look out for the blue and white mosaic on Dame Street across from the narrow street pointing towards the pub. It’s actually quite far from the pub itself but it’s a bit like finding an easter egg in a video game!

Related read: Check out our guide to the best pubs with live music in Dublin (several of which hold trad sessions 7 nights a week)

3. The Old Stand (1770 – 1810)

one of the oldest dublin pubs

Photos via the Old Stand on Facebook

You’ll see our next pub, The Old Stand, left out of many guides to the oldest pubs in Dublin, for some strange reason.

Rivaling The Stag’s Head as the only other 18th-century pub on this list is The Old Stand, a cracking little spot on the corner of Exchange Street and St. Andrews Street.

It also operated as a grocery store up until 1885, when new owner John Cox took over and decided there was more money to be made from pints than food!

These days food is back at The Old Stand but in the form of some splendidly crafted meals to go alongside your Guinness. Don’t miss their traditional Dublin Coddle to warm you up when the summer turns to autumn. 

4. Kehoe’s (1803)


Photos via Kehoe’s Dublin

The first of our 19th-century pubs certainly isn’t hard to miss! Brightly decked out with its distinct red and green facade, Kehoe’s on Anne Street has been a Dublin institution for over 200 years.

First licensed in the bloody rebellion year of 1803, some 100 years later or so it had become a favourite of the likes of Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavangh. 

With its sociable central location and gorgeous mahogany carved bar, you can see why it had been a favourite of Dublin’s gregarious literary set. Grab yourself a creamy pint, sit outside under the handsome awnings and watch the world go by. 

5. Toner’s (1818)

Speaking of Dublin’s famous literary giants, it’s rumoured that Toner’s on Baggot Street is the only pub that WB Yeats would drink in.

Personally, I find his inflexibility rather infuriating but if you were going to choose only one pub to drink in, then you could do a lot worse than Toner’s!

Not only does it boast a lovely old Victorian interior that’s wonderfully snug in the winter, Toner’s also leads out onto a surprisingly large beer garden behind. Perfect for a few pints out in the sun, it’s one of the city’s finest outdoor spots. 

6. Slattery’s (1821)

Slattery's capel street

Photos via Slattery’s Bar

While these days it hosts everything from Vietnamese restaurants to bookmakers, back in the 19th-century Capel Street was one of Dublin’s busiest trading thoroughfares.

So it’s no surprise that in 1821 publican John McKenna bought a license at number 126 Capel Street and the spot that would become Slattery’s Bar was born. 

With its elegant Edwardian interior, arched Victorian windows and mosaic tiled floor, Slattery’sis the owner of one of Dublin’s most ornate interiors and a pint here is a must.

Also don’t miss their epic all-day breakfast, available from 8am throughout the week. Out of all of the oldest bars in Dublin in this guide, Slattery’s is arguably the most overlooked.

7. The Palace Bar (1823)

palace bar dublin

Photos via The Palace on Facebook

Once described by novelist and poet Patrick Kavanagh as the “most wonderful temple of art”, The Palace Bar on Fleet Street is certainly one of Dublin’s prettiest sights. With its ostentatious adornment of flowers and carved wood facade, you can’t help but be impressed before even setting foot inside!

Dating back to 1823, its high walls are strewn with paintings of famous local figures and it also houses one of the city’s finest whiskey bars – the ‘Whiskey Palace’. It’s also been a popular gossip and pints spot with journalists over the years as the offices of The Irish Times are located only a few minutes away. 

No guide to the oldest pubs in Dublin would be complete without some honourable mentions also must go to Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street (1854) and The Long Hall (1860s).

The oldest bars in Dublin (the wider county)

The Gravediggers pub

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

Now that we have the oldest pubs in Dublin City out of the way, it’s time to see what other historical haunts the wider county is home to.

Below, you’ll find the Gravediggers (one of our favourite pubs in Dublin) and the Man O’War to Harry Byrnes and more.

1. Man O’War Public House (1595)

Man O’War

Photos via the Man O’War on FB

With its thatched roof and low wooden ceilings, it would be difficult to argue against the suggestion that the Man O’War is indeed over 400 years old!

Located on a hill on the original Dublin to Belfast Road, the Man O’War Public House has been recorded in deeds dating back to 1595 and was a popular spot for weary travellers to rest their boots (and presumably enjoy a pint of ale!). 

The origin of its name is unclear though it may refer to its hillside location (mean bharr, meaning “middle height”). Also, Wolfe Tone allegedly had his breakfast here once in 1792. 

2. The Hole In The Wall (1651)

hole in the wall dublin

Photos via the Hole in the Wall on FB

Not only is the Hole in the Wall one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, it’s also one of the most unique (especially at Christmas when they go all out).

As Europe’s longest pub, its almost comical length is almost as impressive as its age. Dating back to around 1651, it gets its curious name simply from the practice of serving beer through a hole in the wall. 

Located on the fringes of Phoenix Park, it’s said that British soldiers who were forbidden to leave the large park could still get their beer through the Hole in the Wall. These days it boasts an excellent wine shop alongside a 60+ seater restaurant and is affectionately known as ‘The Holer’. 

3. The Blue Light (1700s)

The Blue Light Dublin

Photos via The Blue Light on FB

Featuring fabulous sweeping views across south Dublin and the coast, The Blue Light in Barnacullia has a long history going back over 300 years. Built from hand-cut stone in Barnacullia, the pub was a favourite of the quarrymen of the old granite quarries in the Dublin Mountains

Frustrated at the high taxes imposed on imported spirits, locals would light a blue ship’s lantern at the front of the pub which could be seen by the smuggler boats below in Dublin Bay and leaving them free to bring their contraband ashore. Thankfully everything’s all legal these days, though the Blue Light still shines every night…

4. Johnnie Fox’s Pub (1798)

Johnnie Fox’s pub

Photos via Johnnie Fox’s on FB

Not only does Johnnie Fox’s Pub date back to 1798, it also claims to be Ireland’s highest pub! Whether it is or not, there’s no denying how wonderfully preserved its history is.

From the old farming tools on display to the period clothing hanging on a line, Johnnie Fox’s is essentially a living museum that also happens to pour some great pints!

Located high up in Glencullen in the Dublin mountains, it’s not the easiest spot to reach but is well worth it. Oh, and you’ll probably need a coat no matter what time of year!

This is arguably the most famous of the oldest bars in Dublin, with tourists flocking to it by the bus load throughout the year.

5. Harry Byrnes (1798)

Harry Byrnes

Photos via Harry Byrnes on Facebook

Another pub that dates back to that pivotal rebellion year of 1798 (maybe in preparation for either victory pints or the drowning of sorrows?).

Located amid the leafy Clontarf suburbs, Harry Byrnes features a lovely red-bricked Victorian exterior and fine original wooden interior making for a sublime timewarp on entry. 

Rather than take the traditional pub meals route, Harry Byrnes offers a cracking selection of wood-fired pizzas to go with your pints. Make your meal even more indulgent by throwing in a few wood-fired buffalo chicken wings. 

6. John Kavanagh aka The Gravediggers (1833)

The Gravediggers pub

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

There’s been a few interesting names on this list but surely few can rival John Kavanagh aka The Gravediggers! Few pubs can also rival their pints, with Kavanagh’s reputed to pour the best Guinness in Dublin

The pub got its nickname because it’s built into the wall of Glasnevin Cemetery – famous for being Ireland’s first cemetery where people of all faiths could be laid to rest – and gravediggers would frequent the spot after long nightshifts.

Though that isn’t the only quirk of this pub that’s been a feature of North Dublin since 1833. Taking the no-frills format to its logical conclusion, no singing or dancing has been ever allowed, and there’s never been a telephone or a TV either!

FAQs about the oldest pubs in Dublin

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is the oldest pub in Dublin called?’ (The Brazen Head) to ‘Which is the most unusual?’.

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 is the oldest pub in Dublin?

The Brazen Head, which dates back to 1198, is officially the oldest pub in Dublin. And it’s well worth a visit.

What are the 5 oldest bars in Dublin?

The oldest bars in Dublin are The Brazen Head (1198), The Stag’s Head (1770), The Old Stand (1770 – 1810), Kehoe’s (1803) and Toner’s (1818).

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