Now, if you’re really looking for an Irish Pub El Dorado, where better could you land than in Dublin? If you’ve never made that pilgrimage to a place called, St. James Gate, you should know that it’s arguably the major attraction in one of the friendliest town’s on the planet. Guinness Storehouse is the old brewery that was the birthplace of Ireland’s best known export, Guinness Stout. The venerable stone structure that dates to the 18th century saw barrels in the millions roll out the massive gates. Today, it’s a monument to tradition that traces the brewing process and provides a fascinating insight into the global advertising campaign that made Guinness an International name. Then on the 7th floor, you find a welcoming modern pub with a panoramic view of the city and a taste of the brew to hoist for a St. Pat’s toast.
The center of Irish pub life in Dublin is along the south bank of the Liffey River, right near the O’Connell Bridge. Temple Bar is an avenue, a neighborhood and the heart of the Dublin pub scene. Pub crawling is the local pastime. For visitors, a starting place to sample the music, the fare and a pint is The Auld Dubliner at 25 Temple Bar. It’s a bit of a cavernous place, but draws an International crowd with a friendly attitude. Then just wander the nearby streets and start picking the pubs that appeal. I look for a warming fireplace, a Kilkenny beer and a hearty Irish lamb stew on the menu.
March is a great month to visit Barcelona. Whether launching a Mediterranean cruise or staying for a week, this Catalunyan city is rich in Irish pubs for those evenings when the brain craves a bit of English. My favorite is on the waterfront at Barcelonetta, right across the boulevard from a fleet of the world’s most magnificent yachts flying an array of national flags. Walk through the doors of the Fastnet Pub and you’re immediately engulfed in a buzz of conversation about football (soccer) and sailing. In one sitting I met a Swedish family that just docked their newly bought sailboat and a Canadian bush pilot, resting between African assignments; her goose bump stories were worth a few beers. The Fastnet offers up favorite brews, Irish whiskey and Spanish wines along with a typical pub menu that takes on a Catalan flare. And there always seems be a game on the telly.
Galway Bay Irish Pub
But, if you’re going to stay closer to home and still embark on a St. Patty’s getaway, set your course for Annapolis, Maryland and the Galway Bay Irish Pub. It’s near the state capital and the Naval Academy on a quaint street in the heart of town. Authentic Irish pub plates, including that incredible stew, cross the bar and tables while pints of Guinness flow from the taps. St. Patrick’s day here will include live traditional Irish music starting with the first pull of the cork at 11 in the morning and continue well into the night. No need to drive home. There are plenty of rooms in historic inns, including the landmark Maryland Inn within a few blocks of the Galway Pub.
Mc Sorleys Old Ale House
No town in America is more associated with the Irish migration than New York City. Two pubs here have become favorites – one for nostalgia, the other for food and drink. Mc Sorleys Old Ale House was serving up suds before the civil war and it shows. The floors are wooden and have soaked up the spilling of many pints, a pot belly stove heats the place and the memorabilia on the walls and shelves trace the history of a fabled city, its heroes and its scoundrels. You stand at the bar and buy two pints at a time. It’s a rare gem from the past.
The Dubliner is new, polished and on a historic street in lower Manhattan, just a short walk from where the first wave of Irish immigrants made their landing at Castle Garden. The Stone Street pub with its long mahogany bar and busy dining room draws the lunchtime crowd from New York’s bustling financial district and government center. Now, I’ve had beef and Guinness stew in a parade of pubs. To my taste, the plate at the Dubliner is far and away the standard by which others will be judged. Friendly bartenders and a conversational crowd cap it off.