To say there are lots and lots of pubs in Dublin would rank somewhere close to “Houston, we have a problem” in the understatement-stakes. Why then, do millions of us flock to the Irish capital every single year and settle in one famous cluster of pubs: Temple Bar?
I did exactly the same on my first afternoon in Dublin last May. That was until a significant chat with one of the famously friendly locals...
“Get out”, he said.
“Get out and find a proper Dublin pub. Go drink a real pint of Guinness”.
My thoughts went something like this:
1. The locals aren’t very friendly at all.
2. If this isn’t a ‘proper’ Dublin pub then why are you drinking here?
3. I bet he means the Guinness Factory.
But alas, I took my new friend’s advice and left Temple Bar to find the "proper" Dublin**.
** We'll come back to this chance meeting at the end.
Before we get down to business, I cannot recommend the Generator Hostel highly enough.
It almost feels too nice to call a hostel. Think exposed brickwork, bustling bar area, comfy bunk-beds (you can pay more for non-bunks) and friendly staff. €45 per night is a steal in Dublin.
And yes, this is a chandelier made from bottles of Irish whiskey.
Moderation is not rewarded in Dublin. Seriously, you’ll pay more for a glass - AKA a half-pint - than you will for two combined halves! In Dublin’s smallest pub, The Dawson Lounge, it’s €4.80 for a pint of Guinness, yet two ‘glasses’ costs you €5.40. Numerical proof.
WeSwap friend, Irishman and guest blogger Sam McAlister described Dun Laoghaire's east peer as being the suburb's "crown jewel".
I now know why: the view of Dublin Bay at night is spectacular.
A bit of vantage-point improvisation goes a long way here because unlike most western European capital cities, the skyline is notable for being low-rise.
This little 31-seater is punching well above its weight and fills up fast so get there bright an early. Head barman John Cummins, author of the ‘Where Bartender’s Drink’ blog mans the taps and it’s worth the visit for his local insights alone.
Carlsberg claims it’s not just the smallest pub in Dublin…
A photo posted by Brookefd (@drumhellion)
Mr Cummins sites Bowes as serving the best pint of Guinness in town. According to him, it’s better than the stuff at the brewery. It’s difficult to refute that claim given the man’s knowledge.
I honestly didn’t have a bad pint of the black stuff all weekend but this one did seem particularly tasty.
A photo posted by KEVIN LIU (@burger_days) on Aug 15, 2015.
We were pointed in the direction of McSorley’s when looking for a non-tourist trap to watch the Six Nations rugby.
McSorley’s is a fantastic old pub and like all great pubs, that’s because of the people drinking there. Fresh-faced students and wise-faced locals drink side-by-side. The atmosphere is buzzy, and banter abundant.
Purists may not think that a gimmick such as ‘Dublin’s Oldest Pub’ means much. I whole-heartedly agree.
The Brazen Head is so much more than just a gimmick though.
This converted coach house is steeped in history. From the furnishings, décor and art work to the fact that James Joyce and Johnathan Swift used to drink here.
It is rumoured to be one of the Five Oldest Pubs in the World. Now that's a gimmick worth thinking about.
Of all the cities I've been to, Dublin wins the 'pub' competition hands-down. I'll even speculate and say Dublin is the greatest pub city in Europe, if not the world.
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” James Joyce once said.
If I hadn’t gone to Temple Bar that day, if I hadn't made that 'mistake'... I’d have never experienced the real Dublin.
Just so everyone knows, the man didn’t enforce the ‘get out’ bit, I actually pulled up a stool and learned I’d been wrong on all three of my assertions.
1. He was actually exceptionally friendly, just very dry.
2. He was only drinking there because his best friend was singing in the same pub that afternoon.
3. He didn’t mean the Guinness factory at all. He meant Bowes.
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