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Traditional Pub vs. the late bar

Traditional Pub vs. the Late Bar

One of the many great things about Ireland is the pub on every corner. (and in between every corner) There have been estimates of anywhere from 9,300 to 17,000 pubs in Ireland. I’m sure there has to be a register somewhere, but look…who’s counting anyway? You tend to lose count after 2 or 3 pubs and 4 Blue WDK’s anyway.  As long as you can still walk (or crawl), you are sure to find one pub more unique then the next; each with its own character and charm.  From pubs to clubs, they are all different in atmosphere and vibe and full of interesting people.

Commonality: just as we Americans like our Sunday football gameday, you can always find a game on the weekends, be it horse racing, Rugby, Hurling (and I don’t mean what you do after too many drinks) or Gaelic football. (which funny enough is referred to as NFL as well). But I will save the GAA/sports talk for the moment. Back to the pub/club scene.


Late Bar

The clubs in Dublin are all very diverse in atmosphere, however they share a common thread. Great DJ’s playing great dance music. You cannot help but get your groove on in these places. I’m referring here to the late bars of course… like Copper Face Jacks, Flannery’s and countless others.  Ireland is interesting with their drink system. Some bars close early, while others ,”the late bars”, stay open till 5am as long as your in the door by 3AM. These are the dance clubs. There is fun to be had here at any age.

This is a whole different animal from the traditional irish music bars, which are plentiful and have some of the most amazing musicians in the world. Check out my post on traditional irish music.  As a side note, for those places that don’t have music at all, you can always count on the “sing-song” that always breaks out just before closing time.

But after all the dancing…and the drinking…and the dancing, getting your very late night greasy food fix from Supermac’s, then off to bed at the wee hours of the morning (if you can find your way home that is… ) you suddenly find a new appreciation for the neighborhood bar. Although Dublin has its share, the outlying suburbs are the best places that truly give you a feel for what the Irish culture is about. Dublin buzzes with a large mix of cultures as one of the great hubs of Europe. But travel 30 minutes or more in any direction and you are very much in Ireland.

Shall we take a moment to speak about Irish drinks? I found that shots, are not all the rage.  At least not our American version of  “extra large put as many alcohols into that moderately sized glass and chug” shots. Which is why I took the liberty of bringing my “ULTIMATE SHOT BIBLE” with me, giving it to my favorite bartender at one of my favorite neighborhood pubs called Madigan’s.



Madigan’s is in Dublin right on O’Connell Street, in the heart of city center.  The Ultimate Shot Bible was a book they did not quite understand. “Are these cocktails?” “How would we charge for them?” “How do we fit all those ingredients in this little glass?” were the first of many questions posed by the very good but perplexed  barmen. Trying to explain as best I could that we have shot glasses that are about 3 times the size or more of a normal shot glass and that you somehow need to fit all that alcohol with fruity substances in there and chug it down as fast as you can remained a mystery to them. But the good barman himself spent some time studying the book and did utilize a recipe to make a perfect shot for me with 3 liquors … fitting it all in a regular sized shot glass. That was talent, and it was yummy.

Then as fast as you can say “d’yaknowwhatimeanlike?”  I’m traveling  out of the city to spend some time in the country in search of the Irish suburb neighborhood bar, more friends, great music, landscapes history and anything Irish. First stop, Athboy, Co. Meath….

Next post… Traditional Pubs and Traditional Irish Music