What to drink
There’s nothing quite like spending a day experiencing the poetic wilds of Ireland’s most deserted corners followed by an evening at a local traditional pub. It’s what makes the island so unique, so special: the creamy Guinness settling gently, the turf fire blazing, and the hum of chatter in the air. There’s a good reason why the Irish pub has been exported all over the world… when it comes to a memorable night out, there’s no better place. What we love so much about the pub is that these days, there’s one for everyone. There’s the traditional stone-walled country pub, where you’ll still find a rocking chair in front of the fire, and a very unique ambience. There’s the warm, mahogany-panelled pub, with little snugs giving an element of privacy and intimacy. And there’s the one-of-a-kind pub that feels like a sitting room and is usually attached to the publican’s house. (Yes, really.)
Traditionally a gathering place where locals would catch up on gossip, share a few stories with the barman, read the paper, or enjoy a traditional music session, the pub is an institution that has played many roles over the years, from undertaker to grocery store. And there are even a few historic pubs around that still operate as shops. Fancy a loaf of bread with your porter? Then check out Dick Mack’s in Dingle, County Kerry. Or feel like a bit of history with your stout? Head down to Grace Neill’s, which is reputedly the oldest pub on the island with a date of 1611.
Keeping it local
Wherever you go make sure to try out stout and porter and local beers, such as Guinness, Murphy’s Beamish, Belfast Blonde and Belfast Ale, Kilkenny and Smithwicks. If artisan creations are your thing, there are lots of microbreweries and excellent craft beers causing a big fuss right now including Galway Hooker Brewing Company, The Porterhouse Brewing Company, The Franciscan Well Brewery, Carlow Brewing Company, Hilden Brewey and Whitewater Brewery. Pubs serving craft beers are one of the biggest new trends, so if you feel like tasting an artisan beer then drop into The Black Sheep in Dublin, Blair’s Inn, in Blarney, County Cork, and John Hewitt’s in Belfast.
The Guinness Storehouse is one of the island’s biggest visitor attractions, and tells the story of the “black stuff” from its origins back in 1759. You finish up with a tasting in the incredible Gravity Bar –the only drinking venue in the city that boasts a 360-degree view of Dublin. Tasty. Ireland is, of course, just as famous for whiskey as it is for stout (remember, Irish whiskey comes with an “e” and is distilled three times unlike Scotch whisky). Get up close to the craft of distillery in the heart of Dublin’s Smithfield at the Old Jameson Distillery, which dates back to 1780 and Bushmills, Ireland’s oldest distillery on the stunning Causeway Coast.