General Dublin Pub Tips

A pint. Not a Guinness, but another stoutThis section is largely aimed at the first-time traveler to Ireland; even if you’re coming over from the UK, pub culture here is not quite the same – so do be prepared!

First off, opening hours are a bit different; you can expect many pubs to open at noon, but some will open earlier, around 10.30 am, and many close after the official 12.30 am ‘closing time’ – the 11 pm ‘last orders’ bell common in England and Wales is not in the picture. In addition, there are some early houses that cater to shift workers – once upon a time, dock workers, but now, more frequently, doctors, nurses and others finishing night shifts. However, they are relatively few and far between.

Children tend to be much more generally welcome in Irish pubs compared to their Anglo-American counterparts, especially for meals, though as ever, common sense suggests you don’t have small children out terribly late (typically, 9 pm will be the ‘goodnight, kids’ cutoff), and this largely applies to pubs that serve food – you can filter on ‘kid-friendly’ and ‘food’ tags if you’re looking for especially family-friendly options (and there are plenty of them).  In some cases, especially in the city proper, there will be a sign at the pub stating ‘no under 21s’ or ‘neat dress essential’ – this doesn’t (usually) mean ‘no children;’ while it may sound forbidding, it’s a ‘rule’ that more or less applies to young men who may cause trouble – you won’t miss them. Often – though not always – these more laid-back pubs offer table service, but it’s not always obvious – but you can typically order at the bar as well.

A snug in a pubOn that note, while pubs that don’t serve food – or only serve toasties or other small snacks – usually do not offer table service, some still do at busy times; there’s no hard and fast rule. Obviously, if you are sitting at the bar, you can simply order at the bar, and no one will be annoyed if you are ordering at the bar and going to your seat elsewhere. Go with the flow. There is some nuance to your order, too – a pint is a pint, but a half-pint is called a glass, though you’ll be understood if you ask for a half.

And although the stereotype of an Irish pub is one with lots of old wood, Guinness, and a trad session always on in the corner, it’s not, by any means, the norm – though it’s not difficult to find if you know where to look; here, you can find pubs that host those sessions with a ‘trad’ tag.

Your best bet for finding out a pub’s hours, events, taplist and, well, vibe, is to find their most-often-updated social network; in Dublin, that is frequently Instagram, so if you’re in planning mode, do look up a likely pub there first.

Finally, one piece of received wisdom is absolutely true: if you’re ordering a round, do order the Guinness (or any other stouts) first – your bartender will thank you.