Have you ever read a “top 10 list of best pubs in Dublin to go on a first date” and wondered, how many of these pubs are handing over a few quid to be on this list? Has the author been inside these places? Have they just taken another article and put a spin on the title just so that they could get a few clicks? Well around here we don’t do that kind of thing. These are my top 3 pubs that I personally have set foot in. No googling, No sponsorship, just years of hard-earned experience drinking pints and having the craic. Oh, and if you’re looking for a bougie hipster 14 euro for a strawberry daiquiri kind of bar, you’re better off walking back out the door you came in. These are 3 classic traditional great Irish pubs right across the country.
1. J. O’ Connell, Skryne, Co. Meath
Okay okay, so we are starting with a pub that has featured in plenty of the above-mentioned articles. But come on now, it’s an absolute classic. Mrs. O’s is infamous at this stage for being that pub of the Guinness ad. You know the one, “Don’t forget to turn the lights off”. Now I know a certain social media influencer has made a name for himself by going all over Ireland looking for the “best pint of Guinness in Ireland”. but who does he think he is fooling? The pint of Guinness in Mrs. O’s is without a doubt the best in Ireland. Search Over. It’s oh so creamy, It goes down like Mother’s milk, and you will drink them all day without getting that heavy bloated feeling that you get from 4 or 5 pints of Guinness anywhere else. The décor of the pub is humbling. It has a classic wooden floor. The timber swing doors are like the saloons in the old cowboy movies. The toilets are situated in a barn out the back, a very old-style experience. but as I said, it’s the gorgeous pint of Guinness that is the real attraction. If you are planning on adding Mrs. O’s to your 12 pubs of Christmas list this year, be warned, you may lose a few Guinness enthusiasts here, they will likely end up staying for the rest of the night.
2. J.J Finan’s, Charlestown, Co. Mayo
Charlestown in Mayo is a small village of about 1000 people. Within this village lies an absolute gem of a pub. J.J Finan’s is a small humble establishment. It has numerous purposes. At the front, you will find what doubles up as a hardware store and a shop. At the back is a classic tight-knit pub. This amazed my father when we visited here back in 2018. “2 pints of Guinness, 2 Heinekens, one 7UP, a can of WD40, and a loaf of Brennan’s bread”. He made this bizarre order for no other reason other than he could. There is a very warm local feeling to the bar, and the regulars struck up various bemusing conversations with me and my family. The pub was brought into the limelight back in 2015 when a certain guitarist happened to stumble upon the local in Charlestown. The story goes that Liam Gallagher was sick of the burden that extreme fame brings and wanted to get away from it for a while. One day he hopped on a plane and didn’t tell anyone where he was off to. His management team was up in arms scouring social media for clues as to where the controversial Rockstar might be. 5 days later this appeared on YouTube. You can book Jack Duggan’s bar here on Airbnb.
3. Jack Duggan’s, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry
The village of Castlemaine has an even smaller population than Charlestown. Only 176 proud Kerry people call Castlemaine home. Right in the center of it lies Jack Duggan’s pub. But this is no ordinary pub. You cant walk in off the street and order a pint and a packet of crisps at 1 o clock on a Tuesday afternoon. For 5 years now Jack Duggan’s bar has been available to rent out on Airbnb. You and a group of your mates can head down and the owners will have the kegs fully stocked and they will leave you at it. During the lockdown, it became a loophole for thirsty young men gagging for that pub atmosphere with their mates. In the bleak year of 2021 I made the pilgrimage down to Castlemaine on two separate occasions. You get a unique insight into owning your bar for a very brief period. For seasoned pub punters, this is a very special experience indeed. You pull your own pints. You put whatever you want on the tele. There is no ques for the pool table or dartboard. There is no closing time. And at the end of the night there is no stumbling around looking for a taxi. You simply head upstairs of the pub and find yourself one of the 7 available beds which are very accesible thanks to the new stairlift from https://thestairliftinstallers.co.uk/.