Perhaps more than anything else, Ireland is best known for its bars. Often imitated across various cities the world over, few, if any, manage to capture the genuine essence and almost mystical feel of the authentic Irish pub. Often schizophrenic in nature, the traditional Irish bar flits between being a cozy hideaway and a rowdy, music-soaked craic-fest (craic is the Irish word for fun and good times). You never quite know which one you’re going to get — but that’s half the craic.
There are, of course, a huge number of traditional pubs to be found up and down the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle; however, the best selection can arguably found in the country’s southernmost county of Kerry, known locally as “the Kingdom.” Kerry is a great spot to visit for several reasons, not least the breathtaking scenery and ample outdoor opportunities.
Take a look at other BUCKiTDREAMs who’ve traversed the Kingdom’s rolling hills to get a feel for the terrain, then keep that BUCKiTDREAM planner handy as we take you through the top traditional pubs you can find in County Kerry!
John B. Keane’s Pub in Listowel John B. Keane, one of Ireland’s most renowned and celebrated playwrights, was a born and bred Kerryman who happily spent much his life in the picturesque village of northern-Kerry situated Listowel. The man passed away in 2002, but his family-run pub is open to this day and serves as a great tribute to the playwright and continues to be one of the town’s most beloved bars. Cozy and intimate, John B. Keane’s Pub features all the hallmarks and relaxed local atmosphere of a genuine Irish pub. It has the bonus of being drenched in memorabilia from John B. Keane’s much-loved dramas and claims the best pint of Guinness in town.
Crowley’s Bar in Kenmare In another picturesque Kerry village — this one in the south of the county — lies the snug of Crowley’s Bar. Kenmare is known for its food and drink delicacies, but Crowley’s is one of its best-kept secrets. The interior seems like it hasn’t changed much since the early 1900s, but you can’t say the same for the atmosphere. It’s lively and friendly for locals and tourists alike, with undercover musicians lurking in the many nooks and crannies ready to pounce on unsuspecting punters with a lively jig or reel at any given moment. Whereas John B. Keane’s claims the best pint of Guinness in Listowel, Crowley’s arguably beats off stiff local competition to produce the best pint of the black stuff in Kenmare.
Blackwater Tavern in Tuosist Located beyond Kenmare on a desolate but charming stretch of country road, the Blackwater Tavern certainly looks the part of a traditional Irish pub. This family-run establishment has been serving the local community for many years, and for a place that appears so isolated, you’d be surprised at the crowd it’s capable of amassing on a Friday or Saturday night. Although the intense craic set dancing nights and traditional music abound, it’s during the quieter times that the Blackwater Tavern really shines. Feel the unique and very Irish sensation of time slowing to a crawl as you enjoy one of their tasty pints.
The Laurels in Killarney The beautiful jewel in the Kerry crown, Killarney is no stranger to tourists and visitors. Surrounded by stunning scenery such as the Gap of Dunloe and Molls Gap, the town is a fantastic place to base yourself if you’re planning on staying in Kerry for a few days and want to explore all the area has to offer. It’s also home to The Laurels, a traditional, old-world bar that has been run by the same family (the O’Leary’s) for more than a century. With that kind of pedigree, you can be sure they know what they’re doing, and to be sure to be sure (a little Irish expression), The Laurels is one of the most loved spots in town, with dancing, music and some of the finest food Killarney has to offer.
Teddy O’Sullivan’s Bar in Kilmackillogue Possibly the most scenic establishment on the list, Teddy O’Sullivan’s Bar in Kilmackillogue has a view that’s to die for. Nestled in the mountains and located right on a pier that showcases the fresh and salty smell of the Atlantic Ocean, this bar will provide one of the most unique and memorable drinking experiences you can have in Kerry. Get it on a sunny day and you will not be disappointed; customers routinely spill out all the way up the adjacent pier. Even on a rainy day, being cooped up in its snug lounge can be quite the atmospheric experience, and, of course, the Guinness is great whatever the weather.
These are just a few of Kerry’s hidden delights, but sadly, pictures and words will never do it justice. To properly tick these off your bucket list, you’ll simply have to visit yourself! Check out Five of the Best Scenic Sights in County Kerry or The Best Stops Along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to get a feel for the Kingdom, then stop wasting time dreaming of its rolling hills and start making plans to roll amongst them yourself!