As you criss-cross this beautiful little Island of ours it is easy to see why us Irish have an international reputation for being “Fond of a Pint”. From many a little back road village to every towns bustling main street you’ll find them, the back bone of the local community, The local Irish Bar.
But as you travel through our cities, towns and villages you will notice each has a distinct character and style.
Here is Craic & Cultúr’s introduction to 6 types of Irish Bars in Ireland.
The Tourist Bar
With The Top of the Morning and the Blessing of Bacon & Cabbage be upon you with the talk of Diddle eh Diddle eh Potatoes wafting through the atmosphere.
Irish Bars on steroids, the tourist bar is the hollywood vision of what as Irish bar is like, with hollywood pricing to match. Stepping into a Tourist bar, you will notice the “old-World” style, of dark wood, antique style furniture, and the famous clutter of “bits & bobs” hanging from walls and roofs.
With Traditional Irish Music or Folk and Ballads often playing from early afternoon pulling the tourists in as they explore with a hope they will stay for the night.
The music is good, played by local musicians earning their living playing a few gigs a week entertaining tourists with the same songs every night often allowing them to pursue their passion for original music or touring in the off season.
Typically the Guinness in tourist bars is of good quality due to the vast amounts of it they pour daily, but be warned with this good quality comes a “quality” price-tag, with pints often reaching over 5 euros, and often reaching up to 7 as the evening turns into night (Yes some venues increase pricing as the night gets later).
Guinness, Entertainment and a good slice of the Irish Craic, Tourist Bars tick all the right Boxes for most visitors to the Country.
But as Disneyland is not the real USA, The “Paddyland" of Tourist Bars is not the Real Irish Bar!
Where will you find these tourist Bars, well Temple Bar in Dublin City Centre is top of the list of offenders with a number of bars fighting for the top Paddyland Bar of the Country.
Our Favourite Tourist Bar is The Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar in Dublin Temple Bar.
The Trendy Bar
Where modern and old world style collide, dark wood meets chrome.
These bars for the Irish fashionable, with skinny jeans and high heels (And not a jacket in sight with it feckin’ pissin’ rain outside!!!)
Guinness here wouldn’t be our first choice, often with worrying quality we will stick to what the place does best,,look trendy…..So a cocktail it is.
Jam Jars, Kettles or even shinny mini buckets, getting a simple glass is too easy for these guys looking to show off their skills of showmanship from behind the bar.
With a huge range and knowledge from the bar you’ll be spoilt for choice. with the added bonus of Whiskey & Gin selection, Drink wise if your in the mode for being fancy your onto a winner.
Music wise with the odd exception of a decent live cover band the DJ is king at these trendy venues with loungey dance tracks building the atmosphere until the high heels and clutch bags make their way to the mini dance floor for the tight dress wiggle and duck face selfies.
Ireland meets London or New York. The trendy bar is a dream of Irish youth, the 20somethings brought up on the Girls of Sex & the City in Dublin Fair City.
Every major city has its very own trendy bars where the beautiful people head for on a Saturday night, just follow the clip clop of high heels or the steams of fake tan if its raining.
Our Favourite Trendy Bar is The House Cocktail in Galway, one of the place to ‘be-seen’ in Galway before the nightclub on a Saturday night.
The Gastro Bar
A leftover from our booming time we call the Celtic Tiger, Gastro Bars sprung up all over the country during the 90s.
Taking elements from both the tourist bar and the trendy bar but with food at the heart.
Priding themselves on the quality of their food, Gastro bars were once considered the alternative, relaxed, uber casual restaurants of the country. But now over time the line between the two (Gastro Bars vs Restaurants) has blurred into common ground.
Gastro Bars are not to be confused with any bar that serves food, but rather think of them as a fully functioning restaurant within a bar.
Often with Guinness just as good as any tourist bar aswell as a fine selection of craft beers, cocktails and spirits, Gastro Bars allow you the opportunity to have a great, locally sourced meal, and continue the night of conversation with friends over a tipple or two.
Entertainment normally comes in the form of a solo acoustic guitarist and singers, playing a mixture of covers creating a very relaxed enjoyable atmosphere, normally starting music after the kitchen has closed.
The Gastro Bar is now common place across the country with most towns having at least one decent gastro bar in the area. a perfect alternative to a night of excessive drinking, food, wine and maybe an after dinner whiskey. An altogether very grown up and respectable evenings entertainment.
Our Favourite Gastro Pub ; Fitzpatricks , Jenkinstown Co. Louth.
The All-Rounder Bar.
As the name suggests the all-rounder bar has elements to keep everyone happy.
Not fitting directly into any category yet easily fitting to all of those previous categories the all-rounder tries to be all things to all people and if done right it can be amazing.
Think of a bar, where a tourist could sit along side a local enjoying a pint, a whiskey or even a cocktail.
Then have a quality meal with good wine and follow it with a dance while being entertained by a band or DJ.
It is no surprise that most bars in the country aim for this style.
The Jack of All Trades in the world of Irish Bars these bars throughout the country have varying success in meeting the needs of all it’s clients.
Our Favourite All-Rounder Bar is Galway’s An Pucan,
With bar of old-world charm meets funky live music venue. Extensive cocktail menu, Premium Gins and a member of The Galway Whiskey Trail, their pedigree as a quality bar is unquestionable. Then you sit down to menu of simple yet tasty treats with something for everyone be you a tourist with a craving for bacon and cabbage to a Whiskey & food pairing platter for the foodies among us.
The Country Bar
Stepping outside of our urban area and back down the hedged roadways into the rural towns of Ireland we find the country bars, the local bars feeding the life-blood of the rural community.
Each country bar has its own flavour and character depending on where in the country you are, but still some things will always ring true no matter if its Mayo or Meath, Louth or Laois.
Consider the country bar as a concentrated observation of the local area. What a town is like echos in its local bar. Here the retired paddy-cap wearing Guinness drinker sits along side the 20 year old college and club footballer, chatting like friends with healthy amounts of abuse and geering.
As an outsider in these bars, don’t be under the illusion that your visit has gone unnoticed. It may not feel like a wild west saloon where everyone stops as you walk in the door, but its close.
Then follows the welcome and curiosity, questions, awkward and genuine may be asked and falling into conversations of politics, religion or anyone of those topics that should be banned from public houses will arise. But what ever you do don’t mention that Junior B Hurling Final from 1992.
The Guinness will flow and with perfect quality, and a perfect price, generally cheaper than city bars.
Music will come in the form of the Juke Box until the band arrives in and plays anything from the Field of Athenry to Fresh Prince of Belair while locals dance on the pool table and shout insults to their best friends.
Country Craziness in all its Glory! We love it!
Our Favourite Country Bar has to be simply named; ’The Pub’ in Mountrath Co. Laois, obviously theres no place like home for us but Every Irish person will have their own idea of perfection in this category.
The Old Man Bar
Aka The Stout Bar, Guinness Bar etc
Whatever you what to call it these bars are the only true traditional bars left.
It goes without saying these bars serve the best Guinness in the land. Smooth and fair too good for just one.
With furniture, decor and facilities that are decades old and worn from use the history and atmosphere is everywhere within the building.
No modern fads, maybe a radio playing, maybe a tv with the news on or simply nothing. No noise to interfere with the flow of conversation and the quiet contemplation between man and pint!
These bars a little piece of Irish heaven and should be cherished.
Hungry? No problem, a fine selection of Crisps (Cheese&Onion or Salt&Vinegar) or peanuts (DryRoasted or Salted) awaits you.
Although food may be in short supply, Conversations and opinions are not and any quiet, private conversations you wish to have should be had a home. Here it is a public matter and open to external analysis, weather you like it or not.
I could name my favourite Old Man Pub here but really, go explore and find them, theres a wonderful world of Irish bars out there. Each with their own character and style and out side of any category guideline I have here.
What’s your favourite??
I’m getting thirsty now…..Time for a pint!