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Entertainment & Nightlife in Ireland


While Dubliners are wealthier, better-dressed and more culturally sophisticated than ever, some have argued that the city is fast losing its authenticity and character. The days of the traditional Dublin pub thriving with intellectual debate and spontaneous humor are certainly numbered, although it's possible to argue that the idea was a myth in the first place. Many traditional establishments, such as Farrington's, The Foggy Dew and the White Horse Inn have all undergone renovations. Much of the newer development is centered around the Temple Bar area: once a decaying part of the south city, the district is now thriving, and if you're staying in the area, you certainly won't have any difficulty finding somewhere to have a pint. Pubs like the Oliver St. John Gogarty and the eponymous Temple Bar Pub are almost permanently packed with visitors and (sometimes disgruntled) locals, and if it's a boisterous and convivial atmosphere you're in search of, look no further.

If Temple Bar is just a little too hectic for your liking, where can you go? That depends what you expect from a night out. More contemporary bars like the Bailey and the Front Lounge, put the emphasis on style and sophistication, and are generally full of stylishly attired twenty-somethings who enjoy chilling out in plush and expensive surroundings. For the die-hard fashion victim, the longer established Hogans and the Globe are arguably a little passé these days, but still draw a committed, hip and clued-in clientele. Many of these bars feature live DJs and are often open until late on the weekends.

The more seasoned drinkers amongst you might find this self-congratulatory bar scene a little smug, however. There are a significant number of Dubliners who would never be seen dead in these denizens of cool and prefer to stick to more traditional pubs, where the emphasis is on conversation and atmosphere, as opposed to music and style. Some include The Long Hall, Grogan's, Mulligan's, Kehoe's, The Stag's Head and McDaid's are all steeped in literary and musical heritage, and offer an atmosphere second to none, where you're also more likely to get a good pint of Guinness. For the more adventurous amongst you, the northside of the city also offers a variety of excellent pubs. Forever synonymous with the Abbey Theatre, the Flowing Tide is certainly worth a visit, as are the Welcome Inn, the Life Bar and the Kavanagh's (Gravediggers), which takes its curious nickname from the fact that the pub is adjacent to the historical Glasnevin Cemetery.

If you have a somewhat nostalgic view of Ireland and expect a traditional music 'session' to be the staple of every pub, you're in for a disappointment. It can be found, but expect to go a little further afield than the immediate city centre: O'Sheas, O'Donoghues, the Harcourt Hotel and the Cobblestone in Smithfield are just a few.

Despite the huge number of bars and pubs across the city, Ireland's licensing laws still remain rather prohibitive. Pubs generally close at 11:30pm (Th-Sa 12:30am), and nightclubs begin turning away customers as early as 2a. There are, of course, some exceptions: many of the larger, more popular pubs in the city have negotiated 'late' licences, which allows the establishment to remain open a little longer during the weekends. Finding somewhere to drink later than 2a is virtually impossible, however. There are a variety of wine bars in the Leeson Street that serve until the late hours, but alcohol is often scandalously over-priced and the atmosphere has a reputation for being rather seedy.

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