Blimey! Irish pubs are everywhere – and here's why
It's no coincidence that so many Irish pubs look, sound and even smell the same.
Today is St. Patrick's Day, so we're talking about the Irish pub. Unlike any other food or drink establishment in the world, it can become a local favorite even if its culture is far from similar to the place it's in. And unlike some ubiquitous fast-food joints, Irish pubs are usually welcomed and enjoyed by the people in the communities they serve.
That's likely due to the fact that most of them are genuinely Irish, with Guinness beer, Irish snacks, and many times an Irish bartender and staff. They are usually havens of dark wood, brass and kelly green. They even tend to smell the same – like beer, of course. Dark beer.
Here are some of the world's great Irish pubs – complete with photos to fulfill your St. Patrick's Day wanderlust.
Sean's Bar, Athlone, Ireland
Sean's Bar is Ireland's oldest. (Photo: Melanie Lukesh Reed/Flickr)
Sean's Bar is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bar in Europe (and certainly the oldest Irish pub), dating back to 900 A.D. and located on the river Shannon, just down the way from Athlone Castle.
Local knowledge: Start your evening in the beer garden, then move inside for the live music.
Nine Fine Irishmen, Las Vegas
Nine Fine Irishmen is located in the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A creation of Dublin-based pub designer Irish Pub Company, it was a popular addition to Vegas nightlife right away. "It was the highest-grossing Irish pub and largest Guinness scales of an Irish pub outside of Ireland in the first six months of opening," says Irish Pub Company founder Mel McNally.
Local Knowledge: Visitors call it a "reality check" in comparison with the rest of Vegas. The bread pudding for dessert is a "must."
Molly Bloom's, Tel Aviv
Molly Bloom's in Tel Aviv is called the best Irish bar in Israel, and it's named after a character from James Joyce’s "Ulysses." Molly was married to Leopold Bloom, one of the book's protagonists (hence the name choice). The bar's extensive whiskey menu is one draw. Another is the variety of sports broadcasts – Molly Bloom's screens international football, rugby and Euro League basketball.
Local knowledge: The best days to go are Mondays and Tuesdays, when a live band plays Irish tunes. Happy hour lasts till 8 p.m. every day.
The Black Rose, Boston
The Black Rose in Boston is one of the city's best Irish bars (in a city with plenty of them), located in well-known Faneuil Hall. "... its reputation extends deep into Ireland, from which it draws much of its staff, at any given point employing 15 Irish servers to dispense perfect pints of Guinness to a mix of locals, students and tourists," according to Esquire magazine.
Local Knowledge: Reviewers recommend enjoying the Guinness beef stew for dinner upstairs next to the fireplace.
Waxy O'Connor's, London
Four bars, six levels and a maze of staircases and passages. That's the wonder of Waxy O'Connor's, a unique space in London's West End. You may have trouble deciding which bar to sit at. But once you do, you won't want to get up.
Local knowledge: There's a tree trunk in the middle of the bar that was actually "planted" there in 1995.
Want to become an Irish pub expert? Impress with your friends with this extra tidbit of information: Many Irish pubs are made by one company, then shipped to their new home.
It's a little-known fact that the official partner of Guinness' Irish Pub Concept is the Irish Pub Company, started in 1990. They have designed more than 2,000 pubs and shipped them to 53 countries around the world. McNally's idea was to bring a little bit of Ireland to new countries and cities with real Irish bars made authentically. "Ireland is expressed in real ways throughout our designs – rather than simply using Irish memorabilia, our designs are Irish to their core," McNally told From the Grapevine.
The company created five main design styles after doing extensive research (with Guinness), which gives the pubs a starting point: There's the Country Cottage style (with pretty whitewashed walls), the Victorian with beveled mirrors and stained glass, the Gaelic Pub with metalwork and earthy colors, the Irish Pub Shop (traditionally, some pubs doubled as the local store) and the Brewery Pub, with stone floors and vaulted ceilings. Each pub is built in Dublin by pub makers who have been doing it for generations and then shipped out to its far-flung destination.
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