The term ‘dive bar’ is a strange thing. Usually when you’re referring to a place as a dive, it’s in a negative context. But, quite a few bars encourage use of the term and are happy to be associated with it. Obviously, there’s a market for pubs that are a bit unkempt, a little bit shabby and rough around the edges. A lot of them are that way by design.
The wikipedia definition of dive bar is : a colloquial or informal English term for a disreputable bar or pub. Such bars may also be referred to as neighborhood bars, where local residents gather to drink and socialize. Individual bars may be considered to be disreputable, sinister, of poor upkeep, or even a detriment to the community.
The dive bars of Dublin are hardly falling into disrepair and retain very high standards. I think it’s more about the attitude they bring to the bar and expect from the customers.
Some bars self identify as dive bars and others are designed to look that way. Here’s hoping everyone on this list considers themselves a dive bar. It’s definitely not a bad thing to be one, and the wikipedia definition, in our opinion, doesn’t really do justice to exactly what they’re all about.
Fibbers on Parnell street is notorious….in the best ways possible. Notorious for being a stomping ground for all forms of alternative music in Dublin for several decades now. Fibbers upstairs, basement, and smoking area is a big alternative hangout for people into metal and other types of music on the heavier end of the spectrum. There’s a lot of devotion shown to this venue and it definitely qualifies as a dive bar. The downstairs has undergone a bit of a refurbishment recently, but even the best dive bars need a lick of paint every now and then.
The Thomas House on Thomas street proudly proclaim themselves to be ‘The best dive bar in Dublin’. There’s a really close knit community around this pub, with regulars being known as ‘Thomas House Defenders’. They put on gigs in the basement that include ska, mod revival, rockabilly, metal, and loads more. The main bar is split into 2 areas and is a brilliant place for ska sounds and a pint of whatever you’re having.
Frank Ryans is one of our favourite pubs in Dublin and we classify it as a dive bar in the most affectionate way possible. The eclectic decoration, the dog roaming around the bar, the pool table a little too close to the wall, and the dark lighting all make this a real gem of Smithfield.
The Mezz is a hub for live music in Temple Bar, and it’s certainly not of the variety that the area is known for. The wallpaper in the bar has been taking shape over a number of years, with music and film posters overlayed one over the other until the originals are barely visible. Pop in for a ska gig and a pint of Slimbo’s stout.
The expansion of the Gypsy Rose on the south quays prove that there is great demand for this type of dive bar in the city. Those who like rock and uptempo blues will enjoy the nightly gigs and jukebox sounds here.
Turks Head Dive Bar
This bar is proud to show their colours as a dive bar by incorporating it into their name. The Turks Head hasn’t changed much over the last decade or so, apart from the addition of the downstairs dive bar. If you’re looking for a dive bar that plays reggae, ska, roots, and other music along those lines, this is it’s home in the city.
The Garage bar is probably the most ‘proper’ looking of all on this list, but it does definitely meet the criteria. The hay that was laid on the floor makes a statement on how you’re supposed to feel when in this pub. They’ve created an air of mix and mash with old electricity spools used as tables, and barrels as seats.
It seems Smithfield is a dive bar friendly area. The Dice bar is directly across the road from Frank Ryans. It’s a narrow pub with a big spill out onto the side of the street. They’ve got their own beers, a small DJ booth, and even occasionally a stage for music. They fit quite a lot into this small space and have a very loyal customer base.