Our Favorites: Historic Pubs We Love
Whether your tastes are medieval or modern, Ireland has the perfect place to raise a glass
Irish pubs aren’t just venues to quench your thirst – they are places for storytelling, music-making, and merriment. And the pub tradition in Ireland is a hallowed one – with many pubs dating back hundreds of years. Here's a look at a few of our favorite place to raise a glass and have a laugh.
Crosskeys Inn is a charming country pub in Antrim- and the oldest thatched pub in Ireland. This old stone cottage, dating back to the 17th century, was once an inn for stagecoach passengers heading between Belfast and Derry. It served time as a shop and post office before its current incarnation as a pub. The authentic thatched roof is a real standout – once everywhere all over Ireland, only a couple of thousand of these traditional roofs remain. The building shows its heritage vividly: the stone floors are worn down from generations of footsteps, the walls are uneven, and the various rooms of the pub have open turf fires. Today the pub is famed for the warm welcome of its proprietors and as a popular spot for traditional musicians.
Suggested tour: Irish & Scottish Sampler
Sean’s Bar in Athlone can lay claim to being the most historic bar of all. This charming old pub has been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest pub - not just in Ireland, but in Europe! (And likely the world.) The pub has been around since 900 AD. Not only does it have a documented and detailed history, but archeologists have dated some “wattle and wicker” walls -- uncovered in a 1970s renovation – all the way back to the ninth century. Check out the castle next door – it’s 200 years younger than Sean’s! Visit the pub and you’ll see ancient artifacts on the wall, sawdust-covered floors, and cozy turf fireplaces.
Suggested tour: Scottish & Irish Gold
Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen is a classic Victorian pub from 1887 that still features its 19th-century atmosphere. The walls are paneled, the floors are elegantly tiled, and the bar is made from marble. It’s a beautiful, nostalgic spot for conversation over a quiet drink. Don’t miss the “Door of Thrones” – a quirky modern add-on, it’s carved from the wood of a fallen tree from the nearby Dark Hedges, made famous as a filming location for “Game of Thrones”.
Suggested tour: Irish Explorer
Walled City Brewery is in Derry, mere steps away from the Peace Bridge that commemorates the process which put an end to the Troubles of the last century. Housed in an old military barracks, this stylish brewhouse and restaurant symbolizes Derry’s regeneration. Its history is tragic, but this thriving city is forward-looking and creative. Check out the signature brews, some of which were inspired by the popular TV show Derry Girls.
Suggested tour: Irish Classic
Marine Bar in Dungarvan is a cozy spot where you can sit by a peat fire as you quench your thirst, as people have been doing for three centuries. In its earliest days it served as a stop for British Marines based nearby, and later on it became a popular stop for passengers along the stagecoach line, which passed nearby. When the railway led to the end of stagecoach traffic, and emigration rose, the pub’s fortunes declined. Musician Christy O’Neill purchased the bar in recent years, and revived it. Marine Bar is now a lively spot where music lovers gather and local musicians often play.
Suggested tour: Irish Pub Tour
O’Connor’s Pub is an antique-packed pub in Galway’s seaside suburb of Salthill. Owned by the O'Connor family for three generations, it’s a lively spot with a celebrity claim to fame: musician Ed Sheeran filmed his 2018 video for Galway Girl here, which stared actress Saoirse Ronan. The fiddle from the video is still in the bar, a popular prop for photos with visitors. Sheeran wasn’t the first notable to stop in – O’Connor’s has hosted actor such luminaries as Martin Sheen, singer Art Garfunkel, and a host of Ireland’s most beloved musicians. And it’s no wonder: the welcome is warm, the fireplace is lit, and the atmosphere is unbeatable in this intriguing old pub.
Suggested tour: Irish Pub Tour
Come along on a CIE Tours vacation, and you could be saying "Sláinte" in one of these pubs before you know it!