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Dublin, the capital of Ireland, joyfully welcomes her visitors. This fun sprawling city, home to 1.36 million people, launched our girls’ UK trip in 2017. We were all first time visitors to Dublin and what an impression this high energy city made on us. We left after our brief stay, determined to return someday and explore more.
The social hub of Dublin is found in its pubs…666 of them as a matter of fact. Dubliners enjoy gathering together for a few pints of Guinness, lively music and shared stories and laughter.
Although pubs are scattered throughout the city, the best collection of pubs is located in the Temple Bar Area.
Come explore Dublin’s Temple Bar Area and see why it’s such a popular destination spot.
Temple Bar History
Located in the heart of Dublin, the Temple Bar Area is described as the city’s “bohemian quarter”. The district offers a vast variety of art, unique shops, entertainment, cafes and restaurants, hostels and hotels and pubs. Live Irish folk music drifts out from cute establishments lined along narrow cobblestone streets. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the area for the “ceol agus craic”…Irish for music and fun.
However, the Temple Bar Area only gained popularity within the last 30 years. With the Liffey River bordering the south side, the area originally contained marshlands. In the 17th century, with the river walled in, the marshes were developed into a neighborhood for the wealthy. Some say the name Temple Bar came from a family name. It’s more likely it was named after the Temple District in London, in a desire to imitate that prestigious neighborhood.
The area declined over the years and by the 18th century, brothels and seedy businesses claimed the area. By the 1990s the district appeared run down and neglected. While a proposed central bus station for the area was under review, buildings leased for low rents. That attracted artists and creative people to the neighborhood. Fortunately, the renewed interest in Temple Bar prompted the city council to cancel the bus station project. Instead, the area experienced a revival that ultimately birthed Dublin’s premier spot.
Explore Dublin’s Temple Bar Area
Temple Bar offers artsy destinations such as the Irish Film Institute, the Projects Art Centre and the National Photographic Archive. Souvenir shops share the streets with tattoo parlors, hostels and cafes. However, most people visit the area for its pubs.
During the day, visitors hit businesses and grab a bite to eat at one of the excellent cafes. However, the Temple Bar area is the center of Dublin’s nightlife. By evening, crowds appear, filling the pubs for meals, music and drinks.
If you don’t like throngs of people, visit the Temple Bar area during the day. Explore the shops, people watch and enjoy lunch at one of the many pubs or cafes in the area. Live music generally begins mid to late afternoon. The area retains its friendly and fun atmosphere by day, without the boisterous overcrowding present at night.
Best Pubs in Dublin’s Temple Bar Area
These fun pubs are considered the best of the best in Temple Bar. Enjoy a meal, grab a pint and listen to music.
The Temple Bar Pub
This pub dates back to 1840, making it one of the oldest in the neighborhood. Cool and quirky, the pub attracts artists, poets and tourists. It offers one of the largest whiskey collections in Ireland…some say the world…along with fresh oyster platters and live music daily.
The Auld Dubliner
Considered the “quiet” pub in Temple Bar, The Auld Dubliner is an oasis of calm in the bustle of Temple Bar, at least during the day. Enjoy a mix of hot and cold traditional Irish fare as well as more contemporary choices. Upstairs the pub hosts local and international live music every day.
Although this pub is a chain, they serve their own house beers. In fact, The Porterhouse was Dublin’s first brewery. They offer guests a classic Irish menu…plus American, British and European food…live music every day and a very laid back environment.
The Oliver St. John Gogarty
This pub attracts the younger crowd and even hosts a hostel upstairs. The food is informal plus they offer a large selection of rare whiskies. The Oliver St. John Gogarty presents live traditional music sessions every evening and overall, a fun, if a bit wild, vibe. As a side note, Dublin’s population is the youngest in Europe. Almost half of the city…49%…is under the age of 30.
The Quay’s Bar
This pub, with the fine restaurant upstairs, resides in the heart of Temple Bar. Live music begins at 3:00 PM daily. The menu and the musical artists range from traditional Irish to modern to international. This is an excellent pub to take a break in and enjoy lunch, an afternoon tea or a cup of Irish coffee.
Lunch in Dublin’s Temple Bar Area
Our girls’ group enjoyed an afternoon in Temple Bar. We visited the bright red namesake pub and found it too crowded to enter. After strolling the narrow streets and enjoying the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, we settled on The Quay’s Bar for lunch. What an excellent choice!
The Quay’s Restaurant, located upstairs above the pub, provided the perfect spot to relax and refuel. Windows let in ample sunlight, creating a cheerful, inviting space to dine. My mother and I both ordered plant based meals and hot tea. The Quay’s offers a variety of scrumptious dishes to please everyone, including vegetarian and vegan options. My rice dish topped with arugula tasted amazing.
As is common in the UK, restrooms are typically located down a flight of stairs. When my mother, sister Linda and I ventured down to find the restrooms, we walked through the much livelier pub section. The Irish are such a fun people…joyful, humorous and open armed. A couple of young men happily posed with us for a photo and gave us warm hugs too.
Find the Temple Bar District
The Liffey River creates the northern boundary of Temple Bar. Dame Street marks the south side, Fishamble Street lies to the west and Westmoreland Street completes the square on the east.
We walked to the area from our apartment, crossing Liffey River on the historic Ha’Penny Bridge.
Nearby attractions include Trinity College, five minutes away on foot, Christ Church Cathedral, at the end of Dame Street, and Dublin Castle, four minutes away on foot.
The impact Dublin left on me creates a deep yearning to return. We barely scratched the surface of all that this amazing city offers, in our two days there. My Celtic roots, both Scottish and Irish, strongly compel me to return “home” and better know the land of my ancestors.
I’ll go back one day. A month spent exploring Dublin and farther out, all of Ireland, would barely quiet my longing. But what a start it will be…
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