"When money's tight and hard to get, and your horse is also ran, When all you have is a heap of debt, a pint of plain is your only man." - Flann O'Brien
Dublin may have its fair share of museums, galleries and shopping opportunities, but there's something ale-together more jovial that attracts droves of tourists to the Irish capital. Dublin's pubs are legendary - truly larger-than life - and as Leopold Bloom mused in James Joyce's classic novel Ulysses, “Good puzzle would be cross (sic) Dublin without passing a pub”. And it won’t be just a pint of the Black Stuff you’ll enjoy: the Dublin pub scene is a veritable lesson in history and culture and you'll soon find that every public house has a story to tell.
1. A Victorian saga
Tucked away off Dame Street, The Stag’s Head has preserved much of its 1800’s interior. The ceiling-high mirrors, beautifully carved mahogany fittings and stained glass windows inspire a sense of awe not normally expected from a pub. This Victorian public house is also famous for being a film set (Penny Dreadful, Educating Rita) and attracting celebrities (rumour has it that Quentin Tarantino was once refused a drink after cut-off time). Another essential décor detail is the actual stag’s head hanging on a wall, silently judging you if your first pint is not a Guinness.
2. A game of two halves
Football, basketball, rugby, hockey, wresting - The Woolshed Baa & Grill on Parnell Street has enough screens to show it all at the same time. The bar has got an Australian feel to it and serves delicious 'chook' wings and cold beer in a huge venue which attracts locals, expats and tourists alike. Whatever the game, whatever the score, you’re bound to join a cheering crowd of sport fanatics.
3. A rock legend
If you’re a fan of heavy tunes, then O'Reilly's Bar is a must. Its dark, gothic interior with dripping wax candles and arched ceilings is both romantic and spooky. Every Saturday night the bar transforms into Club Hell – Ireland’s biggest and cheapest rock night. This free event can normally muster a crowd of 500 or so rock enthusiasts and with shots costing just €1, you can expect plenty of head banging.
4. An upscale tale
Flaunt your formal wear at the chic, sleek and exclusive Vintage Cocktail Club in Temple Bar. The 1920's Great Gatsby-esque atmosphere is intimate and charms at first sight. It’s the perfect setting for witty flirting which will be encouraged by a few glasses of giggle water (that's alcohol in 1920’s slang) from VCC’s extensive cocktail list. The menu is a bit pricey but it’s definitely a classy choice.
5. A traditional ditty
If traditional music is your cup of tea, then head to O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row for live Irish music performances held seven days a week. It’s one of the most famous and most loved public houses in Dublin. The bar’s walls are adorned with photos and drawings of famous crooners The Dubliners alongside the many other well known Irish performers who have played here. Soak up Ireland’s musical history, have a pint and sing a tune or two.