Travelers tend to see the Irish pub as an adult experience, but it is a place your entire family is welcome and can enjoy. In fact, the ‘family pub crawl’ is something my daughters look forward to as much as my husband and I during our trips to Ireland.
Well, if you want to be technical, I suppose so. Bars are called that because of the long bar that drinks are served on. As most pubs have bars, I guess I am taking my kids into a bar. But a pub is really so much more.
The Public House, or pub, is a gathering place for friends and family, travelers and tourists. A place where you can relax with a drink, take a meal, enjoy the craic, and (hopefully) catch some live music.
As you enter the pub, look for a table that is in view of the stage (if there is one) and in easy distance of the bar. In many pubs you won’t have wait staff to get your drinks, so you’ll be making that run yourself. Tip: if there is no stage but you know the pub has a music session, ask where the musicians usually sit so you can make a good table choice.
You’ll find that most pubs serve food; many place their menus outside for perusal. Chicken or fish goujons and burgers with a side of chips will usually please the picky eaters. You’ll also find hearty stews, fresh fish, and yummy Irish beef on most menus.
Finding a pub with music is relatively easy. If you are staying at a B&B, your host can direct you. Often a walk through town can answer your questions, as many pubs post chalkboards outside with music and specials. Or pick up a local ‘What’s On’ publication, which details dates, times, and musicians – very handy for finding early sessions.
Open yourself to the fun and conversations. The craic is what makes a pub lively. Answer questions with one of your own, let the kids dance (if there is space), and immerse yourself in the experience. And don’t forget to practice good pub etiquette.
Keep an eye on the kids and know when they are done. In larger towns you may find that families leave the pubs before 10pm, while in smaller towns well behaved children can stay later. If you aren’t sure, ask your bartender.
My girls have danced the night away at pubs in Clifden, enjoyed early sessions in Doolin, and chilly afternoons with hot cocoa and friendly locals in pubs across the country.
The Irish pub experience isn’t just a must for adults, but is an experience the entire family can enjoy during their Ireland vacation.
by Jody Halsted