5 of the Most Famous Irish Pubs and What Makes Them Special

By | Staff Writer
Last Updated: July 29, 2023
5 of the Most Famous Irish Pubs and What Makes Them Special

5 Most Famous Irish Pubs to Checkout When You Visit

The pub is the essence of Ireland, and no trip to the Emerald Isle is complete without a Guinness. Luckily, there are no shortage of places to enjoy a pint here: there are around 7,200. But which one should you choose? The Irish say that Guinness doesn’t travel well and it means that nowhere else in the world will you find a fresher version of this beer. Here are the must-see pubs if you’re planning a holiday in Ireland.

The Oldest: Sean’s Bar, Athlone

Sean's Bar, Ireland's Oldest Pub
The exterior of Sean’s Bar in Athlone. Ireland’s oldest surviving pub. Image via Instagram / Sean’s Bar.

Located in Athlone, County Westmeath, Sean’s Bar holds the official Guinness World Record title as the oldest pub in Ireland. It dates back to 900 A.D. During restoration work in the 1970s, an ancient mud and straw wall from the pub’s founding period came to light. Entering the pub today, we are plunged into another era; in fact, little has changed since its inception, such as the wooden bar, the fireplace that warms the atmosphere, the small bands that play cheerful tunes, the sofas with small round tables where you can chat with the locals, or the soft lighting.

But a peculiarity distinguishes this pub: the sloping floor and the sawdust. Why this strange choice, to say the least? The pub is located near the river Shannon, which sometimes floods. Therefore, the sloping floor allows the water to simply drain out the backdoor should the occasion arise. The sawdust would then be scattered across the pub floor to prevent patrons from slipping. The owners still scatter it about, as a reminder of the pub’s history.

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The Highest: Johnnie Fox’s Pub, Glencullen

Johnnie Fox's Pub Ireland
“Iғ ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ᴡᴀʟʟs ᴄᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴛᴀʟᴋ, I ᴡᴏɴᴅᴇʀ ᴡʜᴀᴛ sᴇᴄʀᴇᴛs ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴡᴏᴜʟᴅ ᴛᴇʟʟ”
Gayle Forman. Image via Instagram / Johnnie Fox’s Pub.

In the village of Glencullen, Johnnie Fox’s Pub is Ireland’s highest pub at an altitude of 280 meters. Renowned for its weekly Irish dance performances, this pub seems to have stood still in time. As you enter, you are immersed in the history and memorabilia of its former guests: pitchforks, socks, black and white pictures, candles, old road signs. This pub is still home to its number one fan: inside a niche in the wall are the ashes of an American customer who fell in love with the place and asked for his remains to be kept here.

The Longest: Hole In The Wall, Dublin

The Hole in the Wall - Dublin's Longest Pub in Ireland
“Hole in the Wall” is Ireland’s longest pub, found in Dublin. Image courtesy Hole in the Wall.

Founded in 1651 and called The Holer by regulars, it is known as the longest pub in Europe! In fact, it is 100 meters long: with centuries of history, good food, a great selection of beer and a beautiful outdoor space. The pub has a lot of memorabilia, including photos of President Sean T. O’Kelly (Ireland’s second president) who lived in the neighborhood and used to come to the pub every day to relax and chat with other patrons. Initially, the pub was called Ye sign of ye Blackhorse Inn and was a post office inn. Then the name changed to The Hole in the Wall because the staff served drinks to soldiers who resided in the park through a hole in the wall.

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The Oldest in Dublin: The Brazen Head, Dublin

The Brazen Head Irish Pub in Dublin is one of Ireland's most famous.
The Brazen Head Irish Pub is Dublin’s oldest. Photo via Instagram / Brazen Head Dublin.

The Brazen Head Pub has the distinction of being Dublin’s oldest pub. In 1198 it was already a travelers’ hostel, but the current building dates from 1754. The pub has many famous patrons, including famous politicians like Robert Emmet, who used the pub as a base to plan the 1798 revolt against the English, and Michael Collins, the revolutionary and patriot who fought for independence from Britain. However, the Brazen Head’s customers have also included some of the most famous writers such as Jonathan Swift, Brendan Behan and James Joyce. Joyce was so fond of this pub that he even mentioned it in his work Ulysses.

The Most Instagrammable: The Temple Bar, Dublin

Most Famous Pubs in Ireland - The Temple Bar

Barra an Teampaill in Irish Gaelic, Ireland’s most famous pub is named after the neighborhood in which it is located. It is thought that the name comes from the rector of Trinity College, Sir William Temple who lived in this area, close to the famous pedestrian promenade called The Bar. The neighborhood is bustling with street performers, young bohemian Dubliners and tourists who flock to the many pubs in the area. It is in fact the most Instagrammable neighborhood in Dublin (it is tagged around 520,000 times a year!).

A bit of history: in the Middle Ages this district was home to craftsmen, gunsmiths, weavers and furriers, but at night brothels opened and the streets became unsafe. In the 1980s, the government wanted to tear down the district and turn it into a bus station, but thanks to protests from shopkeepers, it was completely restored in the 1990s. Today it is a network of beautiful, colorful and fun streets perfect for immersing yourself in Irish culture!

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