I moved to Cork a couple of years ago and, at the risk of sounding like I have a drinking problem, immediately fell in love with the old pubs dotted about town. There’s nothing like reading the sports section of a newspaper over a pint of Murphy’s on a Saturday afternoon, or catching up with friends in one of the many candle-lit haunts on a chilly winter’s evening. Below I’ve listed my 10 favourite Cork City pubs (in no particular order).

1. Callanans

Walk in to this place for the first time and you may get a “what the hell are you doing here?” kind of reaction. The patrons at Callanans all seem to be regulars, and it can take them a minute to size you up and decide whether or not you are worthy of staying for a pint. For me, that’s a big part of its charm. If you happen to catch some music in here, it’s normally great. People just seem to show up with their instruments and start playing, which again is part of the charm. Thursday evenings are for ring tossing – I was roped into playing recently when visiting with a couple of friends. Be warned, this is more than just a game.


2. Sin É

Sin É, one of the great Cork City pubs

Possibly my number one. Sin É is just north of town at the end of MacCurtain street. Walking through the front door here is like stepping into a different world. Dark, candlelit, and with a ton of great memorabilia on the walls and ceiling (including a Led Zeppelin gig poster from 1969), the staff here are really friendly and the punters tend to be too. Like Callanans, the live music here tends be great and seems to take place every night from Thursday to Sunday. Another great thing about Sin É  – it is mere steps from The Fish Wife, one of Cork’s finest purveyors of fish and chips.


3. Dennehy’s

Denny's, one of the great Cork City pubs

Mary seems to always be on duty here, and she pulls what for me is the best pint of stout in the city. Just across from the more upmarket Bodega, this place has a nice friendly local feel, despite the fact that it’s in the heart of the city. Not quite everybody knows your name here, but it’s not far off.


4. Tom Barry’s

Barrack Street is a great hive of activity on a Friday or Saturday night. Especially popular with students, it is dotted with some great watering holes – Tom Barry’s is the pick of the lot. There is a huge covered outdoor area, which has loads of heaters and even a fireplace, so it’s busy even in winter. Oh, and another thing – the pizza place across the street will deliver right to your table.


5. The Hi-B

The Hi-B, one of the finest Cork City pubs

No phones allowed in this first floor bar which looks out over Winthrop Street. Seriously, I know people who have been asked to leave for answering a call. The Hi-B is a great place to come and chill out. There is a really friendly vibe here, which makes it feel more like you are a guest in someone’s front room than a mere customer. It’s a tiny little place, but there always seems to be room for newcomers. The above picture was taken the last time I was in there, moments after the elderly guy’s Jack Russell had jumped up onto my lap to say hello. Kind of sums it up really.


6. Mutton Lane

Mutton Lane, one of the great Cork City pubs

Amazingly, this place is just steps away from Patrick Street, the city’s busiest shopping area. It’s also right next to The English Market – Cork’s Mecca for food lovers. A few of the pubs here have the same owner, which made me wonder if I should include them. But hey, a great pub is a great pub. There is a great shelf to sit at if you enjoy chilling with a newspaper and a quick pint. Clearly, I do!


7. The Oval

The Oval, one of the great Cork City pubs

Directly across the street from the old Beamish & Crawford brewery, walk through The Oval’s front door, step through the curtain and you’ll see where this place got its name. You immediately find yourself in a high-ceilinged, oval room with the bar in front of you. This place is full of nooks and crannies, which makes it great for dates or more private conversations.


8. Charlie’s

This place is an early house, so by default you’ll find plenty of characters. It is not somewhere you would bring your mother for a gin and tonic. Last time I was there it was St. Patrick’s Day and a band of old geezers called Hot Guitar performed a gig just inside the door – they were fantastic. If you’re passing here on a night out, it’s well worth stopping by for a pint.


9. The Castle Inn

The Castle, one of the great Cork City pubs

Like Callanans and the Hi-B, this pub is seriously old school. Inside, you will find a bar, a bench, and a heavily disfigured linoleum floor – and that’s about it. It seems to be a big GAA pub too. A friend of mine tells a great story about the time he walked in there and asked if they were showing the rugby. The response was apparently as contemptuous as it was silent. Like Callanan’s, The Castle is a genuinely unique experience.


10. Crane Lane

‘The Lane’ is a late bar, so this is where you come after the nine pubs listed above have closed. It’s open during the day too, but Crane Lane is best experienced when full of life. As the name suggests, there is a spacious lane outside that is great for summer evenings if you’re a smoker or just prefer being outdoors. Inside, you can prop up the bar if that’s your thing. Or, alternatively, you can venture further in and discover a dance floor where you’ll most likely find a DJ or even band, depending on which evening you decide to stop by. A fitting final stop for a great night out.


Cork City pubs, we salute you

So that’s it, the 10 best Cork City pubs according to me. If you’ve never been to Cork and are interested in a pint if/when you do, this is as good a place to start as any. Oh, and if I missed any, feel free to comment below. Enjoy!