Here is a list we’ve compiled of the Dublin pubs that are known to have been frequented by many of our beloved Irish writers. Of course they had regular haunts. They were Dubliners. They needed to be in the thick of it, gathering inspiration from a tipple or two and overheard conversations. Now what was it that Brendan Behan said? Oh yes “I’m a drinker with a writing problem”…Feels relatable.
1. Toners Pub
Toners Pub first opened as a combined bar and grocery store in 1818 and still keeps much of the same rich decor today. It is common knowledge that this pub was frequented great literary figures for generations. However, the website may exaggerate this a little. Their website states that William Yeats was a regular drinker at Toners and whilst it is true that Yeats stopped in for a sherry once to try and better understand the enthusiasm of his contemporaries for pub culture, he was severely unimpressed and never returned. Nonetheless, Bram Stoker, Patrick Kavanagh and James Joyce were not as fussy.
Location: 139 Baggot Street Lower
2. The Palace Bar
The Palace bar is beautiful from the outside, adorned with flowers and aged oak panels, aching with history and secrets. Built in 1823, the decor inside hasn’t changed much, apart from the tributes to the great Irish writers who clearly still haunt these walls. Writers like Brendan Behan, Flan O’Brien and Patrick Kavanagh were regular drinkers at this joint. The pub is also just a stones throw away from The Irish Times offices and so The Palace has also been a regular haunt of journalists for generations as well.
Location: 21 Fleet Street
3. The Brazen Head
Built in 1198 (1198!), the Brazen Head is obviously one of Irelands oldest pubs. Writers like Jonathan Swift -the author of Gulliver’s Travels – James Joyce and Brendan Behan were known regulars here, particularly Swift who was the Dean of Saint Patrick’s Church just down the road. The pub even gets a mention in Joyce’s Ulysses, saying that at this pub one can get a “decant enough do for a bob”.
Location: 20 Lower Bridge St, The Liberties
One of the most stand-out features of this pub is how it does not play music or have a TV on in the corner. No sir, this pub is all about the conversation. Flan O’Brien and, you guessed it, Brendan Behan spent many a penny within these walls, talking into the night.
Location: 1 Chatham St, EW93
5. Davy Byrnes
Due to a mention in Ulyssys from Joyce, this pub has a serious cult following. In Ulyssys, Leopold Bloom sits in Davy Byrnes and eats a gorgonzola sandwich whilst he sips on a burgundy. Every year on the 16th of June – Bloomsday – this pub is inundated with hardcore Ulyssys fans who only want two things: to drinking burgundy and eat gorgonzola sandwiches.
6. Bailey Bar
The Baily Bar has always had a name for being a hub of literary and political activity for writers both of Ireland and internationally. Oliver St. John Gogarty, Pádraig Colum and Thomas Kettle were all known Irish writers to frequent this spot and may even have enjoyed the company of Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman once or twice.