Top 5 Dublin pubs

top dublin pubs

Dublin is the land of the pub. Several Irish revolutions began in Dublin’s public houses and many of Ireland’s literary giants frequently socialized over pints of the black stuff. To truly understand Ireland, pull up a chair at one of these 5 great pubs and watch the craic swirl around you. With St. Patricks Day quickly approaching, get in the spirit by checking out these top Dublin pubs.

5. Kavanagh’s aka Gravediggers
A pub on the edge of a massive graveyard, Kavanagh’s has seen its share of liquid mourning. Glasnevin Cemetery, the largest nondenominational cemetery in Ireland, shares a side wall with this old Victorian pub, built in 1833. Now on the sixth generation of Kavanagh, the bar has been family-run since its inception, and plays no music. Instead, the bar defers to the soundtrack of voices its patrons lend to the lively setting. The bars sobriquet, “Gravediggers,” arose because the gravediggers were not allowed to visit the bar during working hours, and so they devised a scheme around this nagging rule. They would bang on Kavanagh’s wall to a beat that constituted a specific drink order. The bartender would come outside and pass pints through the graveyard fence, though, according to Irish legend, the drinks passed straight through the brick wall.

Location: 1 Prospect Square Glasnevin, northern Dublin

Dublin Pubs

4. Mulligan’s
1782 was a long time ago. This public house has been serving pints since that year. The facade and styling reflect that era and the brew could not be more perfect. According to the Irish, Mulligan’s pulls the best pint of Guinness in all of Ireland, a distinction not lost on famous patrons such as John F. Kennedy and James Joyce. In the early twentieth century, James Mulligan banned all furniture, stools, and any other sitting surface from the bar. His reasoning? He posited that when real men drank, they did so while standing. The furniture has since returned. This bar is located in the legendary Temple Bar district – the center of the universe for Dublin nightlife.

Location: Poolbeg Street, Temple Bar

3. O’Donoghues
For Irish music, this is the spot. Opened in 1934, this bar is relatively new compared to the rest of this list. Every night, music billows out from its large interior, beckoning travelers like a siren at sea. For a true Irish music experience that fires on all cylinders every night, look no further than O’Donoghues. The Dubliners, one of Ireland’s most famous crossover acts, got their start as a band here.

Location: Merrion Row, Off St. Stephen’s Green

2. Stag’s Head
Dublin PubsOn atmosphere alone, this is the best public house in Dublin. Everyone who visits Ireland should take in this beacon of Victorian masculinity. The wood paneling, scuffed old leather, and stained glass windows hearken back to a finer age of pub adornment. Opened in 1770, the bar has been a Dublin favorite for most of its existence, especially among the students from nearby Trinity College. The namesake Stag’s head hangs prominently above the bar, looking out on revelers from its central perch. According to Dublin lore, the head came from a deer that went deranged on the streets of Dublin and stuck its head in the door. They kept the head.

Location: 1 Dame Court, Central Dublin

1. Brazen Head
The best bar in Dublin is one of the oldest bars in the world. This bar opened in the 12th century. 1198! That is world is flat/no magna carta old school. In those days, it was not uncommon to stand shoulder to shoulder with a pillaging Viking while swilling some sort of old world brew. Today, the bar is great for music, atmosphere, food, and history.

The Irish are no strangers to revolution, and many an uprising was planned within these walls. In the 18th century, the Brazen was one of very few multi-story buildings in Dublin, and aspiring insurgents used the upper levels as a lookout for British soldiers and spies. In 1803, while plotting a revolt against England at the pub, Robert Emmet and his revolutionary cohorts were betrayed by a spy. They were executed. It is said that Emmet’s ghost haunts the halls of the Brazen Head.

Location: 20 Bridge Street Lower, Central Dublin

Dublin Pubs

In a town with many great pubs, here are some serious honorable mentions:
Central Hotel Library Bar, The Ferryman, The Long Hall, The Vaults, O’Neills, McDaid’s, Kehoe’s Pub, Auld Dubliner, The Long Stone, and Neary’s.

flickr images via Infomatique, Aidan Casey, and Chadlewis76

Crocodile Dundee pub is for sale

Want to buy a piece of movie history? Wrestle crocodiles and relive the 1980s? Now you can, because the Walkabout Creek Hotel, location of some of the most memorable scenes from the 1986 hit film Crocodile Dundee, is up for sale.

Located in the small town of McKinlay in Queensland, northeast Australia, it’s on the Matilda Highway and gets good business from both Australians and tourists. It was previously named the Federal Hotel but was called the Walkabout Creek Hotel in the movie. When the movie became a hit the owners changed the name. It was originally built in 1900.

Needless to say, the place is filled with movie memorabilia and is a pilgrimage site for movie buffs visiting the Outback.

Crocodile Dundee, a sensitive and realistic portrayal of Australian rural life (sarcasm) was part of the boom in the Australian film industry during the 1970s and 1980s. The boom started when the eerie 1975 mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock received international acclaim. The working class drama Sunday Too Far Away became a hit that same year.

Mad Max came out in 1979 and launched a trilogy of hugely popular films. Plans to make a fourth Mad Max film experienced long delays and now it appears the fourth movie will instead be a remake of Mad Max 2 (released as Road Warrior in the U.S.) and will be titled Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s due to be released in 2012.

The Sunday roast: British cooking at its best

Who says the British can’t cook?

Every Sunday all across this green and pleasant land pubs serve up a fine roast. The Sunday roast is an old tradition here. It generally includes chicken, beef, pork, or lamb, along with vegetables, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding, all washed down with a pint or two of real ale. Some pubs even serve vegetarian roasts.

The quality of the pub roast varies widely, so it’s best to get some local advice. Many pubs don’t have a real kitchen but rather a microwave where they heat up packaged meals. A true pub will spend hours getting their roast together and you can taste the difference with your first bite.

If you’re in London, the folks at Time Out have made an excellent guide to the best Sunday lunches in town. Many are pub roasts, but there are other meals on offer too. We’ve also written up some suggestions for gastropubs, which are pubs that specialize in gourmet cooking.

In Oxford, there’s an excellent pub roast at The Fir Tree, which is where I took this photo today. As you can see, I’ll be skipping dinner.

So next time you’re enjoying a Sunday afternoon in England, take a break from their amazing and countless curry joints and tuck in to some fine British cooking.

Lon-done? Try St. Albans

London is one of the most popular destinations for American travelers. It’s big, exciting, and there’s always something going on. Sadly, many visitors never get beyond the city limits. There are plenty of smaller towns just a short journey away that are worth visiting on a day trip or longer stay. St. Albans in Hertfordshire north of London is my favorite.

Located just a twenty-minute train ride from King’s Cross, St. Albans feels a world away from the big city. There are woods, quiet lanes, and friendly pubs. The air is even breathable!

St. Albans has been a pilgrimage center since Celtic times. When the Romans conquered Britain, they built the city of Verulamium here. Part of the city wall still pokes out of the grass in the town park, and nearby you can see the excavated remains of the old Roman theatre and other buildings. An excellent museum explains the history of the Roman settlement and occasionally hosts reenactments by “Roman” soldiers. Check out the museum website for the next event.

Since medieval times the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban has been a major pilgrimage center. St. Alban was a Christian resident of Roman Verulamium in the 3rd century AD. One day he saw a fellow Christian fleeing from the soldiers and he helped him escape by exchanging clothes with him. St. Alban was caught and marched up the hill overlooking town and beheaded. It’s said that when the sword cleaved through his neck, the executioner’s eyes popped out! There’s a wonderfully graphic painting of this inside the cathedral. A monastery was founded on the site of St. Alban’s martyrdom in the year 793, and the oldest bits of the current cathedral date to the 11th. You’ll notice that many of the bricks in the church are actually reused from crumbling Roman buildings, poetic justice indeed!

%Gallery-83298%The town itself makes for a relaxed and very English experience. There are numerous timber-frame, thatched-roof houses dating to the 16th and 17th centuries, especially along Fishpool St., and a 600 year-old clock tower that you can climb up to get a good view of the town and surrounding countryside.

If you’re feeling thirsty try Ye Olde Fighting Cocks next to the duck pond in the park. It’s one of the many pubs that claims to be “the oldest in Britain”. While it’s impossible to tell which pub is truly the oldest, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks certainly is a strong contender. The central octagonal section dates to about 1400, and there may have been monks brewing here as early as 793. The pub gets its name from the cockfights that used to take place here. One of the stuffed champions is on display.

There’s enough to do and see in St. Albans that you might consider staying overnight. I’d suggest The Lower Red Lion. This 17th century coaching inn is still much as it was. I love these old buildings with their narrow stairs, small-paned windows, undulating floors, and resident ghosts. The pub downstairs is one of the best places I’ve seen to get real ales. The last time I was there they had seven guest ales on tap. The kitchen will cook you up a hearty meal to go with your pint. There are only seven rooms and it’s best to book well in advance.

So if London is beginning to grate on your nerves, get out of town! St. Albans is a good place to start.

Pub Etiquette: This ain’t no American bar

Pubs are a cornerstone of English life. Most English people go to them and many are regulars at their “local.” Because of this, pubs are a great way to meet and learn about the English. Even if you don’t drink, go ahead and order a juice and soak up the atmosphere. I’ve been to pubs in London and Oxford that are four hundred years old! Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London and The Turf in Oxford are two of my favorites.

While much has been written about English reserve, this doesn’t seem to apply to pubs. Generally people seated or standing at the bar are open to conversation with strangers, in fact they may be seeking it, while those tucked away in a corner table either alone or in groups aren’t looking to make new friends.

Pubs have their own rules and etiquette. There are no queues, unlike everywhere else in England, but the barmen are adept at remembering who’s first. When you walk in, catch the barman’s eye and he or she will be with you shortly. When ordering, don’t forget to say “please.” Politeness is de rigueur in all aspects of English society, but to barmen especially. If the folks behind the counter aren’t swamped, feel free to ask for advice about what beer you should try. I highly recommend the rich, flavorful real ales.

Tipping is not required but is appreciated, and one nice tradition is tipping your barman with a drink. Once you’ve been served and given the amount, you can ask, “And one for yourself?” at which point he or she will add on a pint or half pint (usually a half) to your bill. If they’re busy they might not get to your drink immediately, but once they do they’ll be sure to thank you again. If they’ve been given too many pints already, or have a stern manager, they might politely refuse. Don’t take it personally, they may work at a pub but they’re still required to be sober!It used to be the law that all pubs had to close at 11 p.m., a rule dating from the First World War when Parliament worried about the hazards of having hungover workers at munitions factories. Just before 11, the barman would ring a bell and shout “last orders!” The law remained in place until 2005, when pubs were allowed to apply for permits to stay open longer. The permit is a pain to get and is not always granted. Sometimes pubs are refused as it would disturb the neighborhood. The closest pub to the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street didn’t get a late license for this reason, even though Tony Blair was the one to push the law through. The tabloids had fun with that one! Even if your pub closes at 11, you might experience a “lock in,” in which the pub closes and nobody is allowed in. Those already there can stay in and keep on drinking. I’ve generally seen lock ins only at local pubs where the barman knows most of the customers.

Even though everybody’s drinking, most pubs are friendly and orderly places. There are some rough establishments, however, so you should beware. It’s usually pretty obvious which ones are bad by the shoddy look of the place and the large number of snaggle-toothed guys wearing hooded sweatshirts, the current fashion for lowlifes in England. Avoid these places. Some English people get drunk only to fight, and their sort of pubs serve crap beer anyway.

So get out there and try a few good pubs. you’re sure to have a fun time.

Do you have a favorite pub? Is pub etiquette different in Scotland and Ireland? (I’ve never been to Ireland, and the closest I got to Scotland was seeing it from Hadrian’s Wall) Drop us a line in the comments section.