Pubs of Irelands Ancient East

Cheerful old friends having fun and drinking draft beer at bar counter in pub.


Wherever you find yourself in the Ancient East, there’s a pub to match your mood.

1. High Spirits: Henry Downes, Co. Waterford
Established in 1759, and in the same family for six generations, John de Bromhead’s unusual pub in Waterford is one of the few remaining houses to bottle its own whiskey. Why not have a dram and soak up the atmosphere?

2. Stayin’ alive: McCarthy’s Fethard, Co. Tipperary
McCarthy’s has a catchphrase: “We wine you, dine you and bury you”. This is a pub, restaurant and undertaker service all rolled into one. Open since the 1850s, it’s functioned as everything from grocery shop to draper. The counters and packed cabinets are throwbacks to its quirky history.

3. Record breaking: Sean’s Bar, Co. Westmeath
This 1200-year-old-pub is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest pub in Ireland and it hasn’t changed for centuries, from the sawdust on the floor to the cannon ball decorations and open turf fire. Next door is Athlone Castle, a 12th century Norman pile.

4. Time travel: Morrissey’s Pub, Co. Laois
Morrissey’s opened in 1775 as a pub-come-grocery shop and the bric-a-brac and grocery produce lining the shelves are reminders from the house’s earlier multi-tasking days. Original 19th century décor makes for a cosy setting. And on chilly days, warm up next to the pot belly stove.

5. High and Dry: Johnnie Fox’s Pub. Co. Dublin
Situated in Glencullen on top of the Dublin mountains, Johnnie Fox’s is one of Ireland’s most famous traditional Irish pubs – and is also famed as the highest pub in the country. Why not relax and enjoy an Irish dancing performance at their famous Hooley Night dinner and show.

6. Counting Sheep: Mutton Lane Inn, Cork city
A Cork pub much admired, the Mutton Lane Inn is probably one of the oldest drinking establishments in the city outside of the North/ South Main Street axis. Situated off St. Patrick’s Street, Mutton Lane is one of many alleyways that lead into the famed English Market and used to be where live sheep were run into the market at one time.

7. Raise a glass: Billy Byrnes, Kilkenny city
One of Kilkenny’s most famous public houses, Billy Byrnes is more of a social club than a bar and a popular meeting place for young and old with a reputation for good beer, good food and a warm welcome. Whether you are looking for a bit of local colour, some top quality live music, or just a quiet corner to read the paper you will find it there.

Group of friends eating seafood and having fun outside with musicians playing in the background at Johnnie Fox’s pub, Dublin