Ireland has a reputation for being a somewhat conservative country, however, that reputation has been challenged in recent years by a wave of socially progressive policies and cultural changes. One of the largest being the landmark decision to legalise gay marriage in 2015. In the years since LGBTQ+ topics have not only become increasingly less taboo but openly celebrated. It’s not at all uncommon to see pride flags hanging from café windows in some of the oldest streets of the city. So if you’re an LGBT+ person wanting to connect with the community in Ireland, there are a few good ways to dive in.
This combines the thrill of meeting your peers with the oldest and most proud of Irish social traditions. Getting together for some drinks with the lads! Dublin has a great selection of gay bars in and around the city centre, each with its own itinerary of special nights and events. Gather up some friends or check out a few for yourself.
For starters, there’s Street 66. Don’t let the name confuse you, this great little number is tucked away on 33/34 Parliament Street. A cosy little bar with a flamboyant flair, Street 66 is a great place to relax with a few drinks in a calm and relaxing environment. The bar offers some signature cocktails, live music spotlighting some local talent, board games and is even dog friendly. They also host frequent community events such as a monthly open mic poetry jam called Pride Poets.
If you’re looking for something more up-tempo then Mother might be up your alley. An LGBT+ nightclub on 1-2 Adam Court, Grafton Street, Mother is the go-to spot for all things disco or synth wave. The club frequently brings in big names to headline gigs for them and across Dublin, such as Pabllo Vittar, a Brazilian artist who will be performing at The National Stadium in May. So this is definitely one place to keep an eye on if you want to keep track of the Dublin music scene too.
If you’re looking for something a little less intense and a little more flamboyant, then make sure to head down to Pantibar, 7-8 Capel Street. Overseen by the fabulous Miss Panti Bliss (famous drag queen and gay rights activist), this bar fully embraces the audacious and scandalous side of the LGBT+ community. With a good mix of classic hits and solid tunes, this is the place to go if you want to lose your inhibitions and have a good time.
Finally, there’s The George. A staple of Dublin city, found on 89 South Great George’s Street, this is a good all-around venue that splits the difference between all of the others. With theme nights, performers and events every day of the week, The George is a great place to drink, dance, bring your friends and maybe make some new ones. They even have karaoke on Saturdays if anyone is feeling particularly brave.
Apart from the exclusively gay venues, other bars and clubs across the city have LGBT focused nights or events, such as The Hub in Temple Bar. There’s a lot of the city to explore, so get to it!
If drinking isn’t your thing and you’d like more intimate or low-key options, then be sure to check out the Outhouse, located on 105 Capel Street. This cute little cafe is a nice little spot to get a cup of coffee, maybe a nice cake and chill out with some friends. The Outhouse is also home to an LGBT+ focused library, covering both the community’s history and academic theory.
The Outhouse prides itself on being a safe space where people can gather to organise events and social gatherings, with a variety of rooms on offer including their own theatre. From serious group discussions to lighthearted fun, or charity auctions.
One of these groups is Acting Out, a performance group made up of the LGBT+ community in Dublin. The group is split into two sections, with both a professional part and a community part that offers classes. Based in the Outhouse, Acting Out was the receiver of the National Gala Award for Irish Arts and Literature in both 2017 and 2020. If you want to check out their work the group has several upcoming performances, including The Death of Me (May 9-14th) and Best Served Cold (May 26-29).
The Outhouse has also recently started the Trans Femme Social Group. A space for transgender women to meet once a week on Friday and talk about their experiences. They also host similar social groups for other aspects of the LGBT+ community such as GOLD, a social club for older gay men.
The Outhouse is also partnering with The Gallery of Photography, The Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Irish Arts Centre to host a photo gallery entitled Fabulous Flikkers: The Exhibition (May 13). This promises to be an exciting look back at the Flikkers Disco, a hotspot for Dublin’s gay community back in the 1980s
If you’re looking for something more cultural outside of the Outhouse, then look no further than the 19th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, running from May 1-15. Hosted in venues across Dublin, the festival is comprised of many plays spanning a wide number of genres and creators, including bestselling author Amanda Brunker who will be spearheading Curiosity, the tale of a woman who explores her sexuality after her marriage falls apart. Other plays include Legislating Love by Natalie Meisner and What Doesn’t Kill You by James Hindman. A number of these events are free and with such a great variety of experiences on offer, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
If plays aren’t your thing then the Irish Film Institute is playing “Where do all the old gays go?”: Experiences of the older LGBTQIA+ community in Dublin on May 25th. The screening is being organised as part of the Bealtaine Festival (a festival celebrating the arts in Ireland) and will be accompanied afterwards by a discussion with the film’s creators.
As we get closer to Pride Month in June, more and more events will be popping up around the city. So keep an eye out for opportunities to make some new memories and don’t be afraid to dive in!