Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh takes us on an interesting tour of watering holes that were popular meeting points for some famous Irish writers


Ireland is famous for its writers, and also famous for its pubs. “Irish pubs” are now to be found all over the world, while Irish writers such as W.B. Yeats, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde are read everywhere the English language is spoken, and even (in translation) much further afield.

Dublin, in particular, is famous for both its writers and its pubs. A survey in 2022 found that Dublin ranked eighth in the world when it comes to the number of pubs per head (ahead of London, Berlin, Rome and many of the other great metropolises). And, of course, Dublin has a unique literary tradition, forever associated with figures such as James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Samuel Beckett.
It’s only to be expected, then, that these two great Dublin traditions should overlap. And they certainly do. In pub after pub in Ireland’s capital city, you’ll see the instantly recognisable faces of the country’s most celebrated writers looking at you from murals, portraits, photographs, cartoons, and even sculptures. Many Dublin pubs are named after authors or their works.

A few examples are Oliver St. John Gogarty’s in Temple Bar, the Thomas Moore Inn in Aungier Street, and The Ginger Man (which takes its name from the uproarious book by J.P. Donleavy) in Fenian Street. Ironically, there is even a Dublin pub named after George Bernard Shaw – who was a teetotaller!

As well as this, many Dublin pubs can boast literary giants as former patrons. You might say that their ghosts still haunt the counters and snugs where they once exchanged witticisms, discussed literature, and gave rise to anecdotes which have been repeated lovingly down through the decades.
Although the link between Dublin pubs and literature stretches over centuries, its golden age must be the middle of the twentieth century.

During and after the Second World War (or the Emergency as it was called in neutral Ireland), pub-going seemed to be almost a more important activity than writing to some of the era’s foremost authors: the poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967), the dramatist Brendan Behan (1923-1964), the novelist and columnist Brian O’Nolan (1911-1966), and many others who associated with them.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own