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Dublin, Ireland is a land of historic castles, Catholic churches, little leprechauns, lucky shamrocks, pots of gold, pints of Guinness and rowdy bars filled with music. Among the many Irish pubs in Dublin, The Brazen Head reigns king.
Honored as the Oldest Pub in Dublin, Brazen Head is a city institution…and a must-see Dublin sight! The Brazen Head Pub Dublin is open for visitors from mid-morning until late every night – but the best time to go to the pub is during their legendary Sunday Session.
The Brazen Head Dublin, Ireland
We routed our way through the city on a Self-Guided Dublin Walking Tour that ended at the Brazen Head Pub Dublin.
Inside the historic and famous bar in Dublin, the walls are covered in memorabilia and classic Irish pub decor. The layout consists of five small rooms – three of which have bars. There is also space to sit upstairs, as well as in the outdoor courtyard. The cozy ambiance is highlighted by comfort food aromas – like fish-and-chips, fresh mussels and hearty beef stew. It is a quintessential Irish bar – and exactly how we imagined it would be.
We eased into a booth in the back room and acquired the necessary patience for perfectly poured pints of Guinness. Our first sip confirmed what we had heard: Guinness tastes better in Dublin. I wondered how many pints have been served from these bars – and based on our initial observations and quick math – there have been many.
Pro Tip: The Brazen Head is touted as one of the best pubs in Dublin for food. We think the best pub food in Dublin is traditional Irish fare – which features heavily on the Brazen Head menu. However, there are some vegetarian and lighter meal options, too.
Sunday Session at the Dublin ‘Oldest Pub’
While the claims of being the Oldest Bar in Dublin were enough to entice us to visit the Brazen Head, we specifically planned our visit to coincide with their famed Sunday Session. Nearly all of the Dublin, Ireland pubs host live musical performances, but none are as intimate or endearing as a Sunday Session at The Brazen Head.
For more than 20 years, Rafferty has been entertaining guests at The Brazen Head Irish pub on Sunday afternoons. By the time we wandered into the front room bar for the music, it was completely packed – with both locals and tourists. Standing on my tippy toes, I could just see the seven musicians sitting in the corner booth. Ranging in age from nearly dead (their words, not mine) to rather young, they played guitars, a fiddle, an accordion, a couple of bodhrans (Irish drums), and spoons, but had no microphones or amplifiers.
It truly was a traditional Dublin, Ireland Sunday Session, as they also doubled as comedians and story tellers. During traditional ballads, the entire bar sang along and when they played upbeat tunes, there was so much stomping that the room was shaking.
Initially, we had anticipated only staying for a few tunes, but the atmosphere was so engaging that we couldn’t tear ourselves away. We ended up staying for the entire 3-hour traditional Sunday Session. Slainte!
Watch our video of a Sunday Session at The Brazen Head in Dublin, Ireland
Pro Tip: The Brazen Head Sunday Session takes place on Sundays from 3:30pm until 6:30pm. The pub also hosts nightly live music from 9:30pm.
Brazen Head Dublin History: The Oldest Pub in Dublin, Ireland?
The history of The Brazen Head Dublin is a bit murky and often challenged. While the Brazen Head Pub claims to be the Oldest Pub in Ireland, that fact is contested by Sean’s Bar in the town of Athlone, which is said to have been established in the year 900. The origins of the Brazen Head can be traced back to the year 1198 to an inn the operated on the exact same spot on Bridge Street.
That said, there is clear evidence that ale was sold from an establishment on the site in 1661 – and there is no doubt that the current building was constructed in the 1750s. No matter what the exact age of the bar, it is clearly one of the oldest pubs in Dublin.
To be honest, who really cares if it ranks as the Oldest Bar in Dublin or in all of Ireland? It is a landmark in the city and nation. Long serving as a place for socialization, The Brazen Head Ireland has seen a slew of famous guests – from writer James Joyce to country singer Garth Brooks. The tavern has – without a doubt – played host to many thirsty patrons over the centuries.
Where is The Brazen Head Pub?
Brazen Head Dublin, Ireland is located at 20 Lower Bridge Street in Usher’s Quay. It is just about a 10-minute walk from Temple Bar, a 5-minute walk from Christ Church Cathedral and about 15 minutes from the Guinness Storehouse.
Pro Tip: Use our Self-Guided Dublin Walking Tour for a route to top city sights. Our walk ends at The Brazen Head!
More Must-See Old Pubs in Dublin
This is no shortage of old Irish pubs in Dublin, Ireland – there is said to be more than 750 Dublin, Ireland bars in total. After having a pint of Guinness at the Oldest Pub in Dublin, be sure to check out some of the other Dublin famous pubs.
The Stag’s Head
Established in the late 1700s, but renovated to its Victorian style in 1895, The Stag’s Head is highly ranked for its ambiance and food.
Since 1854, the low-key and no-frills Mulligan’s has been slinging drinks to the literary crowd and thirsty patrons.
A local’s bar, The Gravediggers is the insider’s nickname for the John Kavanagh bar – which dates to the year 1833.
The Temple Bar
The Temple Bar district is well-known for its numerous Irish pubs that attract visitors from around the world. Among the many is The Temple Bar, which dates to the year 1840 – and aims to please tourists. While perhaps not the most authentic pub in the city, it is worthy of stop!
Other Dublin Pub and Drinking Experiences
While popping into a few pubs during your Dublin visit is a good way to get a taste of the city, there are more in-depth experiences to be had!
Dublin Guinness Storehouse
Join a Guinness connoisseur on tasting experience at the famed Guinness Storehouse. Learn about the different varieties, explore the museum and enjoy two fresh Guinness pints in the Gravity Bar. Get your Skip-the-Line Tickets now!
Take a guided tasting tour through the Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. Sample Ireland’s famous whiskey while learning about the distillation process and behind-the-scenes stories. Get the details here!
Dublin Pub Crawls
For a fun night with fellow travelers, join one of the many themed Dublin Pub Crawls. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of Dublin’s literary heroes, seek out the sweet sounds of traditional Irish music or party the night away. Find the perfect crawl here!
Map of Old Pubs in Dublin, Ireland
Looking for more Dublin experiences? Take a quick day trip to the coastal village of Howth, where there are a handful of harbor-side pubs and tucked-away taverns.
We Want To Know: Have you been to the Brazen Head pub for a Sunday Session? Do you have a favorite Dublin ‘Oldest Pub’? Give us your best tips in the comments below!
Going to London, too? Check out our top tips for the best historic pubs on the Thames River!
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