10 Pubs to Visit in Ireland That Are Older than the United States

by  Emily Zemler | Apr 9, 2024
Courtesy of The Brazen Head

Although the United States is nearly 250 years old, born after the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, many of the pubs in Ireland date back further than that. A lot further. The country boasts hundreds of pubs — short for public houses — where locals and travelers alike can eat, drink, listen to live music, and generally be merry. Of those, some of the most famous are centuries old, with one even claiming to be from 900 AD. Whether you’re visiting Dublin or exploring the Irish countryside, here are 10 of the best pubs to visit in Ireland that predate the USA. 

1. Sean's Bar, Athlone

Established: Around 900 AD

Backed by Guinness World Records, Sean’s Bar lays claim to being the oldest pub in Ireland — though, at over 1,100 years old, it might even be the oldest pub in the world. It was first established in 900 AD by Luain Mac Luighdeach and has been slinging brews in Athlone, located between Dublin and Galway, ever since. It was renovated in 1970 (which is when owners realized just how old the pub really was after discovering "wattle and wicker" walls and old coins), although patrons can still see remnants of the historic building inside. It hosts live music seven nights a week and even serves up its very own Irish whiskey. The pub is a top attraction in Athlone along with Athlone Castle, which, dating back to 1129, is not quite as old as Sean’s Bar. 

2. The Brazen Head, Dublin

Established: 1198

Courtesy of The Brazen Head

The Brazen Head, established in 1198, also claims the title of Ireland’s oldest pub. In keeping with tradition, the Dublin spot hosts live music daily, serves up Irish dishes and drinks, and keeps things lively until late into the night. Located on Bridge Street in the heart of the city, The Brazen Head retains that old timey charm many travelers covet and has a menu of favorites like beef and Guinness stew (and, of course, Guinness itself). Whether you’re looking for a quick drink or a memorable dinner, it’s a must-do when in Dublin. The pub also has a sister hotel, REZz Hotel Dublin, a much newer addition to the city. 

3. Kyteler’s Inn, Kilkenny

Established: 1324


Located in the heart of the Medieval City of Kilkenny,  Kyteler’s Inn was established in 1324 and has a history dating back to 1263. The inn is widely known as one of Ireland’s oldest pubs, and was named after notorious Dame Alice de Kyteler, its first owner, and the first recorded person in Ireland who was condemned for being a witch. Today it serves local brews and whiskeys alongside classic pub fare like fish and chips and lamb stew. While renovated, its Medieval interior has been painstakingly restored. Irish music fills the room every night of the week and Kyteler’s has been named the best pub for live music in Kilkenny, with multiple bands and musicians playing there regularly. Unlike many of the other pubs on this list, Kyteler’s takes reservations, which are recommended if you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday. 

4. Grace Neills, Donaghadee

Established: 1611

In the beautiful seaside town of Donaghadee, Grace Neills, which also calls itself Ireland’s oldest pub (notice a trend here?), dates back to 1611, when it was known as The Kings Arms. Its website claims that the pub has been “visited by smugglers, pirates, sailors, and soldiers over the years.” It was renamed after Grace Neill, who received the pub as a wedding gift from her father, after her death in 1916 (it’s said she’s haunted the premises since). Today the pub has a cozy modern vibe, offering up drinks and grub that will appeal to a broad range of diners. It’s relatively contemporary inside and the menu is expansive, with options for plant-based eaters as well as those looking for a burger. Visitors can make reservations by phone in advance. 

5. Morahans Bar, Roscommon

Established: 1641

Morahans Bar may look unassuming from the outside, but the hospitable pub has been in the same family since 1641, making it one of Ireland’s most historic bars, plus the longest an Irish establishment has been in the same family. Its current form has been in existence since 1841 and the walls inside are covered with old trinkets and memorabilia. This pub serves only drinks, so it’s best for travelers hoping to enjoy a pint of Guinness in a traditional Irish pub alongside the locals before or after a meal. 

6. The Old Thatch, Cork

Established: 1650

Found in East Cork, The Old Thatch is a traditional thatched pub that has been operating since 1650. The family-owned spot was renovated in 1962, but many of its historic flourishes remain, like a willow twig ceiling. It serves lunch and dinner, including a beloved Sunday roast, as well as pints, spirits and, of course, whiskey. In the summer, the outdoor seating is exceptionally popular, as is the regular live music. Cork is home to many very old pubs, including The Oval and The Mutton Lane Inn, but The Old Thatch has them all beat in terms of age and history.  

7. Crosskeys Inn, Antrim

Established: Around 1654

Courtesy of the Crosskeys Inn

Thatched buildings are rare these days, but the Crosskeys Inn remains the oldest thatched inn in all of Ireland. Although the exact date is unknown, the pub is thought to date back to before 1654. The surrounding area has changed dramatically since then, but the inn’s structure has remained almost the same. It hosts traditional Irish music on weekends, as well as events like quiz nights. Although Antrim may not be on your itinerary, the pub is only 30 minutes from Belfast by car and an hour from Giants Causeway, making it an easy pitstop. 

8. T & H Doolan’s, Waterford

Established: 1710

William Murphy/Flickr

Although T & H Doolan’s closed its doors several years ago, it is currently being refurbished in order to fully reopen — much to the delight of Waterford locals. The pub was first established in 1710, making it the oldest pub in town, and showcases impressive Tudor architecture — some parts of its internal walls are even said to have been part of the 14th-century city walls. In fact, the pub is officially a historical site. Keep an eye on the pub’s Instagram page as it’s hosting events in its garden to raise money for the renovations. 

9. McHughs Bar, Belfast

Established: 1711

William Barton/iStock

Set in the oldest surviving building in Belfast, McHughs Bar was born in 1711 — 65 years before the U.S. came into being. The pub’s décor and offerings are enticingly traditional, with many popular Irish dishes, like black pudding, available to order. There’s also live music, outdoor seating right in Queen’s Square, and a celebratory vibe. It’s beloved by both visitors and locals, many of whom stop by for holiday specials or televised sports matches. Go on an evening to get the full effect. 

10. The Long Hall, Dublin

Established: 1766

Dublin’s The Long Hall first opened in 1766, with a well-preserved and highly Instagram-able Victorian interior that dates back to 1881, complete with stained glass windows, elaborately carved wooden accents, and antique chandeliers. It’s so beloved that even Bruce Springsteen has declared it his favorite while in the Irish city. Pop in for drinks or bar snacks, although it’s really where you go for a raucous night out with friends. It’s where you want to be for both the atmosphere and the history when visiting Dublin.

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