Happy Hour in Dublin
If Joyce was alive today, he would be in awe of Ireland's capital city. The modern-day Irish capital is home to one of Europe's youngest populations, and as a result, happy hour in Dublin usually finds its trendy bars and lavish pubs packed with fashionably attired young professionals. Indeed, rich with flavor and cosmopolitan vibe, the local bar scene in Dublin is alive and flouring.
And still, the heart and soul of the Irish capital resides in her public houses – more commonly known as pubs – where Irish craic (fun) is at its liveliest. As the center of Irish society, pubs are where people gather to gossip, cheer on their favorite teams or discuss current events. All social activities in a pub typically include a dark pint of Guinness. Brewed in Dublin since 1759, Guinness is Ireland's unofficial national drink.
Although many professionals frequent pubs after work, "happy hour" in a Dublin pub does not follow the same protocol as its counterpart in the United States. Instead, most Dubliners meet up for a "session," a gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish tunes with fiddles, accordions, flutes and tin whistles. Sessions are typically scheduled on Sunday afternoons and weekday evenings.
The five pubs below vie for the slot of the best happy hour in Dublin:
The Brazen Head
20 Bridge Street Lower
Dublin 8, Ireland
Mon-Thu 11AM.-11PM, Fri-Sun 11AM-midnight
For centuries, the Brazen Head, situated at the edge of the River Liffey, served as a safe haven for such Irish heroes as Robert Emmet and Michael Collins.
The Brazen Head has established itself over the years as one of Dublin's best live music venues, making it a favorite haunt of tourist and locals. This Dublin bar hosts terrific traditional Irish music every night and features sessions for musicians every Sunday afternoon from 2-5 PM.
A word to the wise: the bartenders "take the piss" (or "make fun of") customers ordering Diet Cokes. If you stick to the bangers and mash and pints of smooth and creamy Guinness, you'll fit into the Brazen Head scene just fine.
21 Duke Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
Mon-Wed 11AM-11:30PM, Thu-Fri 11AM-12:30AM, Sat 10:30AM-12:30AM, Sun 12:30PM-11PM
Dublin has a rich literary history, and the one pub that can rightfully claim the title of the capital's "most famous literary pub" is Davy Byrnes. It is the pub that James Joyce featured in his book Ulysses, as his protagonist, Leopold Bloom, feasted on a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy for lunch. Joyce also regularly visited the premises and developed a relationship with its owner Davy Byrnes.
Irish stew is the house specialty, while oysters with brown bread and butter are another popular dinner option. Other favorites on the menu include beef and Guinness pie, deep-fried plaice with tartare, sautéed lamb liver with bacon and mushroom sauce and pheasant, when in season.
Located right off Grafton Street – Dublin's pedestrian shopping thoroughfare – Davy Byrnes is not hard to find. As one of the city's most fashionable bars, it is popular with young professionals looking for their fair share fun at happy hour specials in Dublin.
23 Wicklow Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
The International is a pub near St. Stephen's Green – Dublin's Central Park –and enjoys a long tradition of entertaining its punters, or customers. For years, the International Bar led the Dublin local music scene, and these days its offerings have extended to stand-up comedy.
In fact, many regard the International as the birthplace of Irish stand-up. Aspiring jokesters long to leave their mark on Irish comedy at the International. But the International retains its musical legacy by hosting traditional music sessions every Sunday 1-4PM in the main bar area.
With wide windows, tables appointed with Tiffany lamps and curved bar, The International retains its authentic pub aesthetics. Whether you are looking for a quiet conversation or a rowdy late-night stop, the International won't disappoint you.
Oliver St. John Gogartys
18-21 Anglesea Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
Mon-Sat 10:30AM-2:30AM, Sun Noon-1:30AM
Pub aficionados will undoubtedly stumble upon the Temple Bar area, Dublin's entertainment district. Entering Temple Bar is like stepping back in time, as many pubs dating from medieval times dot its narrow, cobbled streets.
With a lively crowd both inside and outside on weekend evenings, Oliver St. John Gogartys is one of Temple Bar's top pubs. Those who get to Gogartys early can chill with a pint of Harp in the beer garden or get cozy with mates in booths called "snugs," located throughout the pub. There is plenty of room for impromptu dancing, too, as both traditional Irish tunes and 1980s classic hits are mashed-up by the DJ throughout the night. Live music sessions happen nightly from 2:30PM to 2AM.
Though food at Gogartys plays second fiddle to the bustling night scene, you can still savor a traditional Irish lunch every day from 12:30AM – 6PM. For around €25 (roughly $32), enjoy local specialties like Dublin Bay mussels or beef and Guinness casserole at the bar - along with an alcoholic beverage, of course.
Gogartys' atmosphere, beer selection and delicious food make this Dublin bar fun for locals and tourist alike.
9 South Anne Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
Mon-Sat Noon-11:30PM; Sun Noon-11PM
Poll the local crowd for great Dublin bars, and chances are good Kehoe's will be at or near the top of the list. For starters, because it's a block off Grafton, it doesn't fall on most tourist's radar. It also does not have a website, which adds to its mystique. In order to find this cozy gathering spot, you have to seek it out the old-fashioned way – with a map or with a local.
The original mahogany bar – complete with an old-fashioned cash register and spotted mirrors – dates back to the days when this old school Dublin bar was a local grocery. The upstairs mimics an old living room – with snugs off to the side, an old piano in the corner, worn-out carpets on the floor and peeling wallpaper.
Kehoe's is a cozy drinking hole that uniquely conveys the welcoming spirit of Ireland.
- Overview:Dublin Travel Guide