10 best Dublin pubs for Christmas people-watching
From famous faces to landmark deals, you'd be surprised what you can see from a Dublin pub.
Joyce Fegan rounds up the hotspots best placed to observe others in public.
The Library Bar
Oh to go back in time when there were no mobile phones or even TVs. If you want to remove yourself from the world but still watch it all go by below, you need to take yourself to the Library Bar in the Central Hotel on Exchange Street. Go in under the stained-glass canopy of the hotel entrance, past the reception desk and upstairs into the bar.
On entering you’ll think you might just bump into Kitty O’Shea and Michael Collins on a secret date, such is the old-world charm of the place. Its high-backed seats make for a very intimate exchange and there are lots of windows where you can look down on both Exchange and George’s Street. Many people go here just to read their books over a quiet pint.
The Lord Edward
Narrow staircases always lead to the best-kept secrets. As far as Dublin pub culture goes — one of its best-kept people-watching secrets lies upstairs in The Lord Edward (below), off Christchurch Place. Upstairs in the lounge you’ll find plush red chairs and paraphernalia centering around Irish patriots like Robert Emmet. If you want some refuge from the city you’ll be sure to get a seat in this low-ceilinged enclave. From its bay windows, you’ll be able to look through their diamond grids and spy on the tourists and locals down below. They serve food too, so your people-watching can be accompanied by some good old fish and chips.
Board games and microbrews are the choice of entertainment at our next people-watching spot. Newly refurbished, Cassidy’s on Westmoreland Street is probably on the busiest stretch of pavement on this list. You will literally watch the world go by and see taxis, limos, tourist buses, city-centre dwellers and office workers move on by as you enjoy one of its quirky beverages from its left-of-centre menu.
There’s nothing Victorian or old-world about this place, instead the demographic it attracts wear skinny jeans, fashion facial hair and tattoo sleeves.
The Stag’s Head off Dame Lane might be known for its heaving tempo with everyone from students and tourists to businesspeople and film stars grappling for a seat in this
Victorian establishment, but venture upstairs and you’ll uncover a whole new world.
The upper floors have more of a private members club feel to them and if you manage to park yourself in the lounge chairs by the big
picture bay windows (below) you will have yourself one mighty
vantage point down over Dame Lane and Dame Court.
You never know who you might see. All sorts of deals have been shook on on the streets below. Rumour has it that some well-known faces sealed deals on those very pavements, on a night out after a large tech conference in the city.
The Bankers Bar on Dame Lane has many people-watching spots thanks to the building it’s housed in. The Dublin premises wraps around Trinity Street and Dame Lane,
two of the city’s microcosms of thoroughfares.
Anyone who knows Dublin well will dart down either of these streets in order to cross over from Grafton Street to Temple Bar and vice versa. So it offers some of the best opportunities in the city for people-watching. Also, its seats are slightly raised inside, meaning you’re head and shoulders above the ledge allowing you to look out and spy on the passers-by.
Rain, hail or snow, Storm Desmond or no Storm Desmond, such is the attraction of our next people-watching spot — nothing will stand in the way of punters getting a pint here. It’s the terrace of Bruxelles on Harry Street, better known as being just off Grafton Street. Regardless of the weather you’ll find its fans cosied up on the terrace seats.
Such is the popularity of its people-watching terrace — it’s rare to be able to get an actual seat there. It’s steeped in music history too and the Phil Lynott statue stands guard outside. Past visitors include Brian O’Driscoll, Oasis and John Denver.
On the other side of Grafton Street, is both the people-watching spot to be seen in and see from — The Bailey. Situated on Duke Street, you can observe the world go by either from its heated and usually packed terrace or else from one of the window seats inside.
It’s neither old-world nor hipster chic, The Bailey is stylish, tasteful and so very, very inviting. Duke Street outside is another busy capital thoroughfare that city slickers use so you’ll be guaranteed ample servings of people-watching from this slick establishment. The food is good in there too.
This feature would not be complete without our next inclusion — Grogan’s on South William Street. Tourists have it on their Dublin sight-seeing bucket list, courting couples use it as a meeting spot and regulars love it so much that they’re never put off by the aforementioned blow-ins.
Touted as having the best pint of the black stuff in Dublin, if not Ireland, the Castle Lounge as it’s officially named, likens itself to a local bar, except it’s situated smack bang in the heart of our capital city. The building wraps itself around a corner as does its packed terrace and again — no matter the weather, its guests always choose to sit outside to watch the world go by.
The Long Hall
The window bar in the Long Hall pub on George’s Street has allowed its guests to people-watch for more than a century. So this is perhaps, one of the oldest people-watching pub spots in the city. The Victorian relic underwent a renovation in 1881, and since then there’s been little change to its dark mahogany and brass interior. Here, you can watch the world whizz by on George’s Street, while enjoying the calm, old-world charm
surrounds of the Long Hall. There are no TVs to be found so it’s a place for good old-fashioned conversing and if you’re lucky enough to secure one of the seats at the front window (right)— then top-class people-watching too.
Hipsters’ paradise is also a people-watching paradise — Pygmalion in the Powerscourt Town Centre lets its locals take in the happenings of both South William Street and Coppinger Row. Its menu is as exotic as its hip inhabitants, and this is yet another
people-watching spot so good, that punters will brave the elements just to nab a seat outside.
Pygmalion provides throws and a canopy to protect its guests from the elements so you can people-watch in relative warmth and peace. Granted, if you do choose to sit inside, arguably the best people-watching seat in the house is just to the right of the Coppinger Row door.