This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 12 °C Monday 17 June, 2019

Here's what it's REALLY like to go out on the town in Temple Bar

Is it as bad as everyone makes it out to be? We investigated.

temple Source: Flickr

OVER THE YEARS, Temple Bar has acquired a reputation for being an overpriced tourist trap that’s about as authentically Irish as Tom Cruise’s accent in Far and Away.

Irish people may avoid it like the plague, but tourists still flock there in droves, seemingly unaware of the reputation that precedes it.

So what is Temple Bar actually like to go out in? Are we being too hard on it?

I decided to visit three of the area’s most popular watering holes in order to see what all the fuss is about and whether our preconceptions of Temple Bar are merited. (Spoiler: they are.)

Pub #1: The Temple Bar

tuesday Source: Flickr

It’s a Tuesday evening. It’s raining. It’s the first day of September. Not exactly conducive to having a great night out.

Despite this, however, The Temple Bar is absolutely heaving. 

A man is performing an acoustic rendition of Valerie in one room and the performance is being broadcast on a tiny telly — the kind typically found on hospital wards — in the main bar. A few tourists are sort of aimlessly watching it and sipping on their drinks.

We go up to the bar and I ask for two pints of Heineken. I fully expect the price to come to €47.00 so am pleasantly surprised when they cost just €13.90, lol.

(The next morning, I nearly throw up in my mouth when I realise that I paid €6.95 for a single pint of Heineken.)

FullSizeRender (8) Source: Amy O'Connor/

With our precious pints in tow, we find a seat in the outdoor smoking area. There are no free tables in sight, so we share a table with a German couple. They are drinking glasses of beer (sensible) and vaping from an implement that looks like it belongs in a 19th century laboratory.

It’s pretty grim.

Soon they leave and a young couple from Leeds take their place. We ask them what they think of The Temple Bar and they proceed to complain about the price of drink.

“This cost €9,” says the young man while pointing at his gin and tonic.

Where I’m from, you can get three of these for £5.

I nod my head sympathetically so he knows I appreciate what an affront to justice this is.

Meanwhile, his girlfriend tells us that one can get vodka and lemonade for 75p (about €1) in her local. That seems kind of dangerous to me, but it’s certainly preferable to having to take out a mortgage to be able to afford a pint.

Pub #2: The Quays Bar

quays Source: Flickr

Next up, we venture to The Quays, a pub you have probably walked past a million times in your life.

We are instantly greeted by the sounds of a male-female duo singing that classic Irish ballad… Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


Oh great.

The bar is packed to the rafters with weary tourists sipping pints and looking on as the musical duo perform a trad version of Shake It Off. Elsewhere, tiny tellies broadcast updates from transfer deadline day — with no volume of course.

It is immediately clear that this is the kind of place you go when your feet are hurting you and you’re kicking yourself for not just going on a lazy sun holiday. (“Who do I think I am exploring cities? All I want to do is sit down.”) In other words, it’s a classic tourist haunt.

We go up to the bar and order two pints of Heineken again. This time, the total comes to just €12.40 or €6.20 a pint.

Still exhorbitant, but a veritable bargain by Temple Bar standards.

FullSizeRender (9) Source: Amy O'Connor/

There isn’t a seat to be had, so we just sort of wander around and examine the decorations adorning the walls.

There’s one wall that’s just literally covered in money.

FullSizeRender (10)

The notes are inscribed with messages from previous visitors. One reads, “MAKE IT RAIN” and another reads, “To all the men we loved in Dublin.”

There are also numerous awards and a poster of Irish sporting heroes that came free with a Sunday newspaper in, like, 2007.

We get talking to a couple from Birmingham who are Airbnbing in Dublin. They are pretty nonplussed about the price of drink — they’ve been to London, you see, so nothing fazes them.

They are, however, surprised to learn that Irish people don’t generally hang out in Temple Bar. “Irish people don’t really come here,” I shout at the girl. She turns to her boyfriend and relays my message. “SHE SAYS IRISH PEOPLE DON’T REALLY COME HERE.”

Then we all shut up and solemnly listen as the duo on stage perform Wonderwall.

FullSizeRender (11) Lurking outside The Quays... Source: Amy O'Connor/

Pub #3: Oliver St. John Gogarty’s

templebar Source: Flickr

Finally we rock up to Oliver St. John Gogarty’s.

You might remember it from such viral bar receipts as this one.

It is one of the most well-known pubs in Temple Bar and with good reason — it’s the most Temple Bar pub of all. If The Gathering and Carroll’s Irish Gifts made love and had a pub baby, this is what it might look like.

We walk in and there’s two men on stage playing vaguely Irish sounding music. We order two more pints of Heineken (€6.95 per pint, although I have sadly lost the receipt) and I quietly rage at capitalism.

Then we go for a wander and what we uncover shakes us to our core.

For one thing, the stairway is lined with portraits of famous Irish people, including this one of Bono looking like an extra from Interview with a Vampire.


There is also a Patrick Kavanagh quote on the wall attributed to someone named “Patrick Kavannagh”.

Oh, and there are more U2 paintings. Obviously.

(Seriously, if you are into U2 portraiture, then this is the place to be.)


We sit outside for a while to gripe about paying €250 for pints or whatever when we are approached by an American musician. “Hi guys, I’m performing in town tomorrow night if you’re interested.”

He tells us that he has toured with Imagine Dragons and is currently writing music with Ed Sheeran. At this point, our ears prick up. “Tell us what Ed Sheeran is like.”

He says that Ed Sheeran is nice, but has “been through a lot”. When we ask him to elaborate, he mutters something about being “young and famous” and refuses to divulge any more.

Reader, I don’t think he really knew Ed Sheeran.

giphy (20) Source: icanbreaktheskymyself/Tumblr

As we near the end of our pints, we go back inside to survey the landscape one last time.

Irish songs are being performed on stage and the assembled tourists seem genuinely enthralled. Maybe Temple Bar isn’t so bad after all!

But then, just before we go, we notice souvenir baseball caps for sale behind the counter for €5. Hang on, wait. Surely not…


And on that note, we leave and pledge never to go out in Temple Bar again.

giphy (21) Source: Giphy

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

About the author:

Amy O'Connor

Read next: