Prior to my recent very quick trip throught Dublin in November 2012 (merely in transit to and from Connolly Station to the ferryport) if you had told me there was a pub in Dublin that does not serve Guinness, I would have said you had taken leave of your senses and suggested some sort of therapy. However such a place exists, right in the centre, and I managed to find it by accident. Here is the story.
For those of you not aware, Guinness is the national drink of Ireland. The principal Guinness brewery in the world is in St. James's Gate in Dublin and the dark beer (which actually originated in London!) is inextricably linked with the Irish. I can honestly say that in all the years I lived in Northern Ireland I never, and I mean never saw a pub in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland that did not have a Guinness tap in it. Honestly, I really cannot stress this enough.
I should also add that I am not a beer snob but I don't drink Guinness outside Ireland. I don't know why but it just doesn't seem to travel well. I had time for a couple of pints and so I walked into the Brew Dock pub which is just opposite the Bus Station and a short walk from Connolly station. I looked pretty modern from the outside and the interior was, as you can see, fairly minimalist but there was a huge selection of beer taps not to mention the extensive array of spirits behind the bar.
Imagine then my surprise when I asked the barman for a pint of stout (local parlance for Guinness) an he very politely informed me that they didn't have it. Well, after I had recovered my breath, got my heart rate and blood pressure back to acceptable levels, I enquired why this was the case. He informed me that all the beers here were from micro breweries, mostly Irish but with a few from overseas. The selection, as you can see in the image from the number of taps, is indeed impressive. Should you want a Guinness type brew, there are several stouts on offer. Deprived of my Guinness, I opted for a pint of Stowford Press, which is a pretty good English cider that I drink sometimes in England.
Although I did not eat, I had a look at the menu and was again reminded of what I had noticed myself and what Irish friends had told me, that Ireland generally and Dublin in particular is ruinously expensive. Stew and champ (basically mashed potato) as pub grub at €12 is a lot of money. I believe the whole city is hugely expensive now.
The Brew Dock seemed a friendly place and if you are not desperately seeking a pint of Guinness it is good stop off right opposite the bus station.
You can try to work your way through all the Pubs, but you would end up being carried off like those enebriated folks at Octoberfest lying on the grassy hill. However, wandering through many of them we found them all to be a bit different, have different kinds of food, and entertainment. Many of the pubs have an upstairs area, and we found several with a so called garden area for smokers.
If you go into a pub looking for food, check right away to see if the waiters come to your table, or you have to go and order it at the bar and pay.
My other best suggestion is that you take in a few pubs that are not in Temple Bar area. This way you can rub elbows with the locals, as I don't think many local citizens of Dublin frequent Temple Bar much, unless they are showing guests from out of town the sights.
On our visit to Dublin we wanted to see the countryside but didn't have enough time to rent a car and discover Ireland for ourselves.
There are plenty of tours to take from Dublin to all part of the country, we decided to take the Rural Pub Tour after meeting a couple at our hotel who had taken it the previous day.
I alway like to get a first hand reccomandation as you know what your getting.
This tour was even more than we had expected, we spent the day exploring the beautiful Irish countryside stopping at plenty of cute little pubs. The local people we're so friendly they really made us feel welcome in their little pub.
We crossed over some lovely mountains to then stop for dinner, this place was awesome we couldn't believe so many people would be at this pub in the middle of nowhere.
The food was delisious and large portions.
We visited 6 pubs in total in the tour and by the last pub we were all up dancing and singing with the band. I will never forget this trip.
thanks again Eric & Sonya for telling us about this trip.
The first time I ever did a (paid)(business) pub crawl in Europe, it was in Amsterdam and I was very impressed. I've done numerous "party" pub crawls, usually with a theme - pirates, santas, zombies, or what-not with a community of friends but seldom do I do one to get to know a city as I'm usually the explore on my own type. Having had such a great experience with the Amsterdam one, I figured Dublin would be pretty fabulous. A couple of issues here however for me - I'm not a beer drinker (only wine and mixed drinks), I'm not much into pubs and bars (more nightclubs where dancing is available), and I definitely don't really care for mainstream establishments. So any paid "Pub Crawl" has alot to compete with to charm me. However, for those that do love pubs, these are usually the beast that you want to ride when travelling to a new city and wanting to get to know what the nightlife is and make friends with fellow travellers. The other conditions for the night that affected my experience as well is - I attended on a week night (Thursday night) (and no matter where in the world you are venturing, weeknights are more dead than weekend nights) and I attempted to go on the Backpacker's Pub Crawl prior to showing up at this one which left me and 3 others hanging with no one showing up to tell us it was cancelled. The 4 of us from the Backpacker Pub Tour no show wandered over to the Porterhouse to see if we could still get into the Dublin City Pub Crawl. A charming young woman was our guide and host. So even though there were only 4 of us (5 including the guide) we were going to make the best of it. She was an excellent host and guide. She knew her establishments and her drinks. So first off, lets rate the Guide as a top 5 out of 5 Guides. However the tour dynamics itself were poor. There was a free drink at the Porterhouse, and free cover at one of the clubs, but overall not much given out (unlike Amsterdam's crawl - which is not fair to compare to so I won't let it affect my rating). It was poorly attended and not many friends to be made (again, A Thursday). For €15 its a good deal and way to get to know nightlife Dublin. Discounts exist in ad racks at the hostels. They take you to four pubs and then a late bar/ dance club at the end of the journey. 15% off all food at the Porterhouse Central (be there by 8 to order), free appetizers in the 2nd pub, free Irish beer sampling, and discounted drinks at some establishments ( €4 pints; €5 cocktails; and a (to pay) option for pouring your own pint of Guinness off tap). Some of the establishments have live traditional Irish music, free VIP entry into Dandelion Night Club which was a fun little mainstream club. Tour Guide: Rated 5 stars out of 5. Tour: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a wonderful experience if you want to know more about the Irish and the Music that goes with it. The pub crawl is 12 euro per person. Two musician's take you on the tour and sing and dance along the way. You visit several pubs, get the history and personally l think it's well worth the money. Meet in Temple Bar pub at 7.30 summer time, tickets can be purchased in the bar or at the Tourist centre.
If your tastes run towards the literary, as well you fine VTers know that mine do, then perhaps the Literary Pub Crawl will be to your liking! Personally, I like the idea of someone leading me around edifying me on Irish lit while I'm a wee bit toasty.
I've long been a fan of Irish literature having read a biography on Wilde when I was a mere lass of 14, and then boning up on as much of his work that I could grab hold of in my early 20s. Other Irish writers have caught my fancy: James Joyce, Jonathan Swift (his A Modest Proposal piece is GENIUS!), Bram Stoker, Lady Gregory, Frank McCourt.
The tour was just wonderful! It was witty, fun, the actors acting out scenes from Becket's "Waiting for Godot", giving up bon mots on Oscar Wilde, handing out Joycean lore - I definitely recommend it and would love to try it again! And the beer wasn't bad, either. We sampled Guinness, Murphy's, Smithwick's, Bulmer's Cider, and a bit o' Jameson's Whiskey. Lovely!!
Cost is 13 euro per person and may be booked ahead of time on-line.
Photos: April 2010
We enjoyed going on the Literary Pub Crawl so much that we decided to give the traditional music one a try, and we were not disappointed! The Musical Pub Crawl starts at the Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub at the heart of the Temple Bar area. We had two amazing and really funny musicians with us that night: one sang, played the guitar and the bodhrán, while the other played the flute. We quickly realized they both were "purists" as far as traditional Irish music is concerned - they quickly warned us against buying a bodhrán or a CD at a souvenir store, saying that "an angel loses his wings everytime someone buys one of those" (OK, so maybe the Guinness had began to kick in at that point!). They stayed away from the most popular songs and introduced us to some lesser known, excellent jigs and reels ("Johnny Jump Up" was my favourite one), explaining how real Irish music sessions work (clapping your hands is a big no-no!) and also telling us about the history of music in Ireland. Given that my dad is a folk musician, it was really interesting for me to see all the similarities that exist between traditional music from Ireland and that from Quebec :o)
The pace of this pub crawl was very different from that of the literary one. We visited only three pubs (on top of the first one we went to the Ha'penny Bridge Inn and Brannigan's), and we had a private room reserved for our group in each one. We therefore had plenty of time to drink - and so did the musicians! The Musical Pub Crawl starts at 7:30 pm and lasts about 2.5 hours. Tickets: 12 Euros.
As soon as our two guides/actors started doing a hilarious bit of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", I knew we were in for a major treat! The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl appropriately starts at The Duke, a beautiful 19th century pub located just off Grafton Street and an old favourite of local authors James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh, among others. Our two guides were excellent: they did an amazing job of mixing history and literature, all the while entertaining us with some beautiful songs and funny anecdotes about Dublin writers - I think my favourite ones were about Brendan Behan's visit to Toronto (where he said the city would "look nice when it's finished"!) and Oscar Wilde's visit to a Colorado mining town ("I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice - 'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.")
Although it may vary, our pub crawl took us to O'Neill's, The Old Stand and Davy Byrne's. For noise issues, however, most of the storytelling and song singing takes place outside, which means we only spent about 20 minutes in each of the first pubs - better to call a shot of whisky than a pint of Guinness! Throughout the evening, our guides had some trivia questions for us and when we got to the last pub, there was a little contest to see who could answer the most questions... and I won! They gave me a really nice souvenir t-shirt but to be honest, even without the t-shirt there's no way I could ever forget that wonderful evening in Dublin!
The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl starts at 7:30 pm and lasts for about 2.5 hours. Tickets: 12 Euros.
This is the oldest pub in Ireland which stretches back to the 11th century. The staff are friendly and there is a great atmospheric.The pub is surprisingly large and has both internal and external seating. think that all tourists visiting Dublin have at least one pint in it. There are some great artifacts and paintings to see in it.
The Brazen Head is the oldest pub of Dublin and whole Ireland. It is established as early as in 1198. Today it still serves a variety of things, not only beer, but also lunch and dinner. It also hosts traditional Irish music sessions.
I was happy to notice, that the Brazen Head is one of the Guinness Irish Twin Pubs - and it is twinned with the Molly Malone's pub of Helsinki! I had to drink a Guinness and toast for that!
I would say that pubs are the most popular 'attraction' in Dublin. You will really enjoy going from pub to pub, where you often have the opportunity to attend live concerts of Irish music. Most of the times these concerts are free, but it can happen that you have to pay 5 or 10 Euros for the concert specially at nights.
We had a couple of beers at The Temple Bar and Oliver St. John Gogarty while we were listening to Irish live music for free.
A must is checking out the traditional Irish bars and pubs Dublin has to offer. Some really good (although not cheap) ones are "The Hairy Lemon" and "The Turks Head" (Temple Bar area just as you come over the bridge.
Fagan's Pub is a nice and huge Irish pub. It is in walking distance of the hotel where we stayed (20 mins walk from the Regency Airport Hotel) in Drumcondra. They serve huge portions of food and the first time we went there we had already eaten - which was a pitty because that stuff looked really nice! On the weekends you see everybody having nice food and lots of beer with it :-) We realised that they do not cook on Sunday evenings, so we had to leave without tasting the food :-(
If you aren't a Guinness fan, if you don't have a taste for Jameson or Tullamore Dew, you can still enjoy a taste of Ireland by sipping a Baileys on ice available in pubs found about every three fee in Dublin.
Brilliant way to experience traditional Irish music, learn a bit about it, have a laugh, and enjoy a few pints all at the same time!!
2 Irish musicians take you to a few pubs (special reserved area in the pub), and then tell you all about Irish music, play you many different tunes and songs, teach you a bit about the instruments - all with a bit of comedy too!! My stomach hurt by the end of the evening!!
The whole thing lasts about 2 and 1/2 hours and costs about 12euro's - well worth it!!