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18 of the greatest Irish pubs that tourists (mostly) don't know about

Food? Are you joking?

THIS IS A country of wonderful pubs. Unspoilt pubs. Pubs where there is no decoration but old GAA pictures*, no food buttoasties, and no crisp flavour but cheese and onion.

These are some of them.

*Also acceptable: pictures of ancient regulars, vintage booze adverts, community raffle notices.

1. French’s, Gorey

Source: Google Maps

Narrow, dark, cheerful and adjoining its own hardware store, French’s – aka The Premier House - is the business. A place where there’s so much plaster fallen off the walls it looks like a design feature. Also home to some of the best Guinness in the south-east.

2. J O’Connell’s, Skryne, Co Meath

Source: Google Maps

A strange one this, as it’s the pub in the famous Guinness Christmas ad and could therefore be reasonably expected to have ruined itself with tourism. But no: it’s small enough, dark enough and out-of-the-way enough to have stayed wonderfully untouched. Get there before that changes.

3. Lily Finnegans, Whitestown, Co Louth

Source: Facebook

Lily Finnegan’s might be just a few minutes’ drive from Carlingford, but it’s miles away in spirit from Louth’s hen-and-stag-party capital. What you *can* count on is a warm fire in winter, a handy welcome, and a fine pint. Oh, and a telly showing the game, possibly with a few reception problems. Glorious.

4. Devitt’s, Camden Street, Dublin

Source: infomatique

Devitt’sis an island of calm in the roiling sea of revelry that is Camden Street. A place to watch the match, maybe hear a little trad, and generally be glad you’re not queuing up for a club that’s had the same playlist since 2006.

5. Crane Bar, Galway

Source: The Crane Bar - Galway

OK, spoiler: this one has made it into a few guidebooks. But that is merely testament to the high quality of its music and the solidity of its bar staff. Nearby Neachtain’s might get a lot of attention, but the Crane is just around the corner… and what a delight.

6. Hi-B, Cork

Source: The Hi-B Bar

Bang in the middle of Cork, this first-floor haven proudly displays ‘No mobiles in bar’ signs. And yes, they are enforced. By staff of such character that at once stage there was an entire forum thread dedicated to being barred from the Hi-B.

7. Lord Edward, Christchurch, Dublin

Source: infomatique

The seafood restaurant might be no more, but the pub part of this two-floored Dublin institution is still going strong. Downstairs, find Liberties locals supporting the bar with the football on. Upstairs, students and college lecturers amid revolutionary bits and pieces. Essential.

8. M Finucane, Ballylongford, Co Kerry

Source: Google Maps

No fewer than three generations of men named Michael Finucane have owned this pub – the first a relative of a 1916 hero. But it’s still there on the main street in Ballylongford, quietly serving up the goods. A gem.

9. O Riada’s, Kilkenny

Source: Shadowgate

Step inside O’Riada’s to find a warren-like drinking den apparently constructed entirely out of local GAA notices. Then, sip its top-flight Guinness and watch the world settle gradually to rights. Perfect.

10. Dennehy’s, Cork

Source: Dennehy's Bar

There’s been a lot of development around Dennehy’s on Corn Market Street, but very little inside. If it ain’t broke…

11. Delaney’s, Smithfield, Dublin

Source: Google Maps

Next to the famous Cobblestone and facing into the modernistic Smithfield square sits Delaney’s, a Stoneybatter institution still apparently immune to hipsters. Stay long enough and you might get a triangle sandwich.

12. Paidi O Se’s, Ventry, Kerry

Source: Páidí Ó Sé's Pub Ventry

Smack in the middle of the Gaeltacht, Paidi O Sé’s is probably the largest pub on this list: a local institution in Ventry, near Dingle. A pub so real, one of the pictures online shows someone drinking tea with a packet of biscuits on the bar.

13. Brennan’s, Bundoran

Source: Bundoran Tourism

Reputedly opened on St Patrick’s Day 1900 and famously run by sisters Nan and Patricia Brennan – grandchildren of the original owners – this wonderful spot is worlds away from the seaside resort places just down the street. Retreat here and find peace.

14. Jordan’s American Bar, Waterford

Source: Google Maps

Why is this called Jordan’s American Bar? Well, we’ve no idea. But it’s a great local right in the middle of Waterford, and as such it can call itself pretty much whatever it likes.

15. Strawberry Hall, Strawberry Beds, Dublin

Lucan’s old school haunt. As our source said, “it basically has a GAA museum but is too out of the way for tourists to care”. Also has a killer line in Christmas decorations.

16. Morrissey’s, Abbeyleix

Source: Google Maps

Morrissey’s was opened in 1775 as a grocery shop, and you can still buy a mean bag of sweets from their jar. To go along wit your delicious creamy pint, obvs.

17. Fallons, Dublin 8

Source: infomatique

A Dublin 8 institution. No craft beer, no food (unless you mean toasties) and a tiny space packed with stools and smelling like… well, like a very authentic Irish pub. One of the city’s hidden wonders.

18. Welcome Inn, Cork

Source: Carlos Seco 'fowler'

One of the oldest pubs in the city, and one of the most beloved. Serious risk of meeting “characters” within. Food? Are you f***ing joking?

We know, we know, we’ve missed out your favourite watering hole. Tell us where it is and we’ll look at it for the next edition!

More: 21 pubs in Ireland you must visit before you die>

More: 27 pints you must sample in Ireland before you die> 

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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