The 5 Pubs to visit in Dublin on fake St. Patrick’s Day

Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t always been celebrated on March 17th? Well, at least not in Ireland anyway. 

Back in 2001, there was a major foot-and-mouth outbreak in Ireland and some European countries. With Ireland being such a rural country and farming a big part of the economy, everything ground to a halt as the outbreak was contained (sound familiar?). Unluckily, this all happened in February, and with no end date in sight, the country pushed all official St. Patrick’s Day celebrations from March to May.

Now in 2020, with a global pandemic putting everything in lockdown, Ireland outrightly cancelled everything to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Unlike what happened in 2001, this year there is no official date for when St. Patrick’s Day will get to be “officially” celebrated. As you can imagine, when the day comes, it’s expected that every pub in Dublin is going to be in party mode.

If you’re going to be lucky enough to be visiting Dublin when all this boils over, you’ll want to make sure you have the best day out possible. To do that, you need to avoid the tourist traps and get a feel of what celebrating like a local is all about.

To help with that, we’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of five of the best pubs to visit on the “unofficial” St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, it may not be quite the same as doing it in March, but it’s going to be one hell of a party. It begins with a local haunt beside one of the world’s most famous colleges.


Trinity College is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Hundreds of thousands of visitors go there every year. Just around the corner from the main entrance is a pub that thousands of those same people unassumingly walk by. Perched on a little corner is Doyle’s; a pub promising nothing more than a decent pint and good company.

The downstairs pub always has a pleasant atmosphere, and at night, the upper floors become one of the tiniest and lively clubs for nearby students to flock to. It doesn’t get mentioned much in tourist guides, but it is well worth making a stop in for one of the freshest pints of Guinness in town.


You’ll want to spend the day like a local as much as possible, and there’s no better place to get that authentic feeling than hitching a seat in the bar in McGowans.

The local pub has been in the Phibsboro area of the city for over sixty years. The neighbourhood has become a trendy spot, with many fancy restaurants and trendy spots thanks to the younger population who live here. McGowan’s pub has stood the test of the time though and provides that quintessential Dublin pub experience that you won’t get in the city centre.

Bad Bobs

There is Tempe Bar on any given day, and then there’s Temple Bar on St. Patrick’s Day. The second everywhere starts opening up again, it is a safe bet everyone is going to descend upon the area in droves to get a drink. If you want to get a feel for what Temple Bar is like on a busy day but prefer to avoid throngs of crowds, Bad Bobs on lower Essex St fits the bill.

Locals prefer to go here if they have to be in Temple Bar as Guinness is cheaper than bars in the main square, and it has a less touristy vibe about the place.

Fitzgerald’s of Sandycove

I don’t know what possesses people to do it, but on days like St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, Dubliners will flock to Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire so they can jump in ice-cold water. The small cove is roughly 8 miles south of town. It’s become such an attraction that even Hollywood superstar Matt Damon is visiting while stuck in Ireland during the lockdown.

After jumping in and having a swim, there’s no better way to reward your bravery than a fresh pint, and many locals swear by Fitzgerald’s as the best in the area for a well-earned Guinness and a few packets of Tayto.

The Bernard Shaw

Lastly, I’m going to talk about a Dublin institution that has seen itself upended and relocating. The Bernard Shaw was a tiny little bar in the Portobello area of Dublin that grew over time to become one of the best in the city. It famously had a big blue bus in its beer garden and was where you went if you wanted to see a trendy Dublin bar busy any night of the week.

Sadly, the bar had to close down (the reasons have never been made public, but many assume it was due to rents getting pushed up way too high). Rather than become a relic, they decided to up sticks and relocate in Drumcondra, a lovely little neighbourhood in the north of the city.

It’s a little out of the way, but when fake St. Patrick’s Day happens, there’s no better place to be for the atmosphere alone than here, especially if you prefer funky beats to traditional Irish music.

Raise a glass when this is all over

I hope you keep a note of these bars when you go to visit Dublin, no matter what time of year you can make it. And wherever you are when we decide to have the unofficial St Patrick’s Day, make sure you raise a glass and give cheer that all the craziness has passed.