Great Irish Pubs: your top ten Barfly reviews in 2015

Barfly visited 51 pubs in 19 counties in 2015. Here's the top ten most-read and most-shared on social media by our readers

Murphy’s is settled on the edge of the Atlantic and in the shadow of Mount Brandon

Murphy’s is settled on the edge of the Atlantic and in the shadow of Mount Brandon

 

The Barfly series started in 2015 to champion great Irish pubs. They’re a special part of Ireland and packed full of stories and so far Barfly has published tales from 51 of them - across 19 of our 32 counties. They’ve included tales of fantastic barstaff and incredibly loyal customers, hidden gems and new takes on famous houses. We’re very proud that the most read this year was also the least known: Jim O’ the Mill in Tipperary. It’s well worth taking a detour for – but only on a Thursday. Here are your top ten based on readership and social sharing. You’ll find the full list at irishtimes.com/barfly

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1. Jim O’ the Mill, Upperchurch, Tipperary
Could this one-night-per-week pub be one of the best in Ireland?

The single beer tap in Jim O’ the Mill in Tipperary is working overtime. There’s hardly room to move and certainly no chance of a seat as locals arrive through the half-door with fiddles, boxes and bodhráns in tow. Hidden deep in the rolling farmland of Upperchurch, the Ryan family, led by Jim, open their home just one night of the week (Thursday) and conjure that impossible mix of music, beer, location and welcome that’s the essence of Ireland – and these days so very rare. Continue reading

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2. J O’Connells, Skryne, Co Meath
Entire lifetimes have been consumed keeping a fire blazing at the heart of this incredible pub

The wind is fierce on Skryne Hill in Meath when we arrive at O’Connells on a recent Sunday afternoon. A note pinned to the door defies the weather and the changing times, reminding us that in this small part of Ireland, at least, it’s still Holy Hour and the doors of this 170-year-old pub will remain closed until 4pm. Continue reading

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3. The Long Hall, Georges St, Dublin
There are few pubs in Dublin that can match this great Victorian relic

When Phil Lynott lifted his sad brown eyes to the camera to sing “I’ve been spending my money in the old town, it’s not the same honey, when you’re not around” it was from the third barstool of the main bar in the Long Hall that he chose to do it. There are few pubs in Dublin that can match this great Victorian relic for its warm nostalgia, and Lynott and thousands like him have all had their own moment of melancholy at its bar. Continue reading

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4. Sean’s Bar, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Claiming the title of oldest bar in Ireland, and possibly the world, Sean’s Bar in Athlone has a lot to live up to

Three German men have just stepped off their boat on the Shannon and wandered into Sean’s Bar. They’ve been playing cards for 20 years, with each sacrificing their winnings to a pot that would bring them on their first trip to Ireland.

It’s a Wednesday night and the bar is stuffed with regulars and local band Hickory Wind are lifting the rafters with Rockabilly and Americana. Continue reading

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5. Nora Murphy’s Bar, Brandon, Co Kerry
The view from its front door is beautiful and there’s always a great welcome inside

When friends came home from two weeks on Dingle Peninsula without seeing the Blaskets or driving Slea Head I couldn’t make sense of it – until they brought me to visit the pub where their time in the Kingdom was stolen: Nora Murphy’s on Brandon Pier, a place to rival any pub in Ireland. The view from its front door is beautiful and there’s always a great welcome inside. Continue reading

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6. John Kavanagh’s (The Gravediggers), Glasnevin, Dublin
Proud family establishment still going strong with eighth generation behind the bar

Robert Kavanagh (22), the eighth generation of his family to work this remarkable pub in Glasnevin, pulls my pint. His uncle Ciarán, (seventh generation) joins us and then, like a force of nature, Robert’s grandfather Eugene, the sixth generation and the powerhouse behind this pub that locals call the Gravediggers.

Family histories flow: tales of achievements, marriages, sadness and joy – lives filled to the brim with experience and drama. Continue reading

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7. Kehoe’s, South Anne Street, Dublin 2
Kehoe’s has that literary feeling other pubs try to buy but can’t

There’s a slope in the floor of the upstairs lounge in Kehoe’s on South Anne Street in Dublin. It falls so steeply from beneath the heavy, wooden dresser beside the fire you’d be brave to trust your pint not to slide into your lap. Despite that, it’s my favourite seat. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m stealing an afternoon away, a mere 10 strides from the noise of Grafton Street but I could be in another world. Continue reading

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8. Grogan’s Castle Lounge, 15 William St South, Dublin 2
Established in 1899, Grogan’s has held its current position as a refuge for the literary and the lost since the 1970s

Grogan’s is a permanent anchor in Dublin’s city centre, unshakeable in the face of constant change. Established in 1899, it has held its position as a refuge for the literary and the lost since the 1970s when its then-new owners proudly seduced the city’s best-known writers and artists.

It was the first pub in Dublin I visited 20 years ago and every time I step through its doors I get a rush of the youthful energy that brought me to the capital in the first place. Continue reading

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9. The Cobblestone in Dublin’s Smithfield
It’s hard to imagine the art of Irish song under any kind of threat after a session at this pub

There are sandwiches piled high under clingfilm, tea and coffee on tap and standing room only at the monthly singing session in the Cobblestone in Smithfield. The old-style club night that drew me in is called The Night Before Larry Got Stretched and alongside the grey-haired sean-nós performers are dozens of twenty-somethings hipsters of every shade and hue. Continue reading

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10. The Hanged Man’s pub, Milltown, Co Kildare
An oasis of calm on the banks of the Grand Canal

When Pat Keane was 15 he could occasionally be found sleeping on the leafy banks of the Grand Canal in the shadow of the historic Hanged Man’s pub. He took his first drink at the bar and those teenage slumbers may well have conjured dreams of the day he would make this 120-year-old pub his own. Continue reading

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