You'll often hear the word craic (pronounced “crack”) in Dublin. It means having “good times,” often associated with drinking. The Irish are definitely a fun-loving people, known around the world for being friendly and approachable.
Irish brews and whiskies are famous, and many and varied are those centers of Irish social life, the pubs. Dubliners in particular have a well-deserved reputation for enjoying a drink. With every round, the brogues become more pronounced and a mischievous humor emerges; queer descendants of ancient Celts and Norsemen can certainly hold their own in the sometimes raucous partying.
It hasn't been so long ago, since condoms had to be smuggled across the border from Northern Ireland, divorce and abortion were illegal, and being gay was something not to be discussed (it was finally decriminalized in 1993). But things have changed, and quickly. In 2010, the country overwhelmingly approved same-sex civil unions.
North of the city is Dublin Airport. Several bus routes will easily get you into the city. Or, if you prefer, taxis are always available. Bus and transit information can be found on the Doublin Airport website.
Walking is the best and most interesting way to get around the city. But if you need to go a bit farther, Dublin has an efficient bus and tram system. To explore areas around Dublin there are DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) trains from Irish Rail - also with transportation throughout Ireland. Bus Eireann can also get you most everywhere, around the whole country, at a good price: under $20 from Dublin to Cork for example.
Much of the nightlife of Dublin (or Baile Atha Cliath) takes place in the area around Temple Bar on the south bank of the River Liffey, up St George's Street and around St Stephen's Green. On most evenings the streets are full of people crowding Temple Bar sidewalks and pubs, with plenty of live traditional music, and authentic Irish stew, along with many other international cuisines. With smoking banned indoors, many people congregate outside, and conversations are easy to strike up with most anyone who catches your fancy. Gay bars, dance clubs, restaurants, stores and a bathhouse are within easy walking distance of one another throughout the area.
Just outside the gates of Trinity College the pedestrian shopping district of Grafton Street is lined with every kind of shop and cafe, plus indoor arcades, and malls such as the giant Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, across from Dublin's large city park. Nearby Dawson Street has lots of bookshops, cafes, and restaurants. On the north side of this central district, Fleet Street runs through the heart of Temple Bar, parallel to the river.
Droves of young people flocked to the Irish capital during the "Celtic Tiger" years, among them Eastern Europeans and Asians who settled here, and a fiourishing arts scene and diverse student population add to the mix. Dublin is fun and international, but for a bit more of the "real" Ireland consider a trip to Cork, with it's own lively gay scene.
Currency and Money
Ireland is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the official currency.
Media & Resources
QueerID (aka QID), is a gay online social networking site, with nightlife and events updates.
The website of Béar Féile is well maintained, with Mr Bear Ireland and other events info, photos and videos of Dublin bears.
Outhouse, in a fantastic building, houses Dublin's LGBT community center as well as a cafe. They provide local information and an opportunity to meet locals.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below, see our maps & listings section.
Barnacles (19 Temple Lane), dorm beds for as little as 10 euros/night at pleasant Temple Bar hostel. Also with private rooms, double beds, en suite bathrooms, balconies, reasonable prices. Informal international backpacker mix, communal kitchen, 24-hour reception. The drawback: no guest visitors.
The Clarence Hotel (6-8 Wellington Quay; 353-1-407-0800) comfortable general public hotel at Temple Bar beside the River Liffey - owned by Bono & Edge of U2. Cleaver Brunch Club leisurely afternoon Brunch Menu meals, Bottomless Mimosas and resident DJ at their Cleaver East Restaurant.
Inn On The Liffey (21 Upper Ormond Quay), gueshouse and bathhouse complex overlooking the river banks.
The Merchant House (8 Eustace Street; 353-1-633-4447), heart of Temple Bar, four luxury suites, restored 18th Century merchant townhouse, all amenities. Secure private entrance, reduced-rate parking nearby.
Paramount Hotel (Essex Gate, Parliament St), 64 rooms, warm welcoming decor, close to gay nightclubs, restaurants, and tourist attractions in central Temple Bar location.
The Dragon (64-65 South Great Georges St) lavish cocktail bar, lounge on two floors, daily from 8pm, regular entertainments, special events, Saturday drag cabaret on stage. Packed weekends, young, stylish, mostly guys, but also women. Open to 2:30am Wednesdays through Saturdays. Thursday Prhomo student nights take place here too (until Jan 2015).
Front lounge (33 Parliament St), attitude-free video bar, gay, straight, bi, lesbian, whatever; special events, entertainment, and karaoke. Lunch and all-day menu, DJs spin wide variety of music.
The George (89 South Great Georges St), friendly locals' pub Bridie's open daily from 12:30pm. Young and energetic crowd, nightly acts and shows, alternative drag, dance contests, bingo, karaoke nights. Dancing before and after shows until 2:30am, no cover before 11pm.
Pantibar (7-8 Capel St) owned and operated by Dublin's most-loved drag queen Panti Bliss, kicks off the weekends with campy Bunny Hutch escapades and Panti shows. Open nightly 5pm to midnight with a quieter pace on weekdays as people unwind here after work.
One night clubs
Special gay nights at normally straight clubs come and go frequently. Check local listings to be sure.
Boilerhouse (12 Crane Lane), big, popular men's sauna, social club, cavernous cruisy areas, two steam rooms, private rooms, cafe. Loyal regulars keep it busy, especially weekends. Open to 6am Monday-Thursday, non-stop on weekends.
The Dock Sauna (21 Upper Ormond Quay), steamroom, dry sauna, video and dark rooms, internet access, snacks and refreshments. Below the Inn On The Liffey guesthouse, at which guests have free access to sauna.
Dublin is blessed with a variety of restaurants with authentic cuisines from all over the world, as well as basic home-grown offerings. Many of the pubs have daily lunch specials too.
Gay-friendly restaurants at the center include:
Break for the Border (2 Johnstons Pl, Lower Stephens), restaurant in the hotel nightclub complex; finger foods, nachos, Mexican Bruchetta, salads, chicken wings, steaks, burgers and sandwiches.
Chameleon (1 Lower Fawne's), Indonesian lunch/dinner, tapas, special events, vegetarian options.
Cleaver East (6-8 East Essex St), Michelin Star chef, savoury and sweet tasting plates, smaller portions to share, meat, fish, cheese, veggies, sweets; allergen guide.
The Farm (3 Dawson St), affordable, tasty, homemade, locally-sourced food, outdoor seatings, full bar and wine list.
The Larder Cafe Bistro (8 Parliament St), good and inexpensive food, "deliciously informal" early-to-late service, streak nights, brunch, take-out.
Lemon Jelly (1, Millennium Walkway), wholesome bagels, panini, and stuffed crepes, both savory and sweet.
Monty's of Kathmandu (28 Eustace), award winning Nepalese restaurant, traditional, authentic and wide variety of dishes.
Trastevere (1 Temple Bar Square), "New York-style Italian" food, large outside terrace on on Temple Bar Square.
A little further out look for:
L'Ecrivain (109a Lower Baggot), fine classic French dining, 6-couse tasting menu, popular enough to require reservations most nights.
Odessa (13-14 Dame Court), simple but tasty food, comfortable atmosphere, reasonable prices; sharing dishes, lunch, brunch, dinner.
Saba (26-28 Clarendon), traditional Thai and Vietnamese food with rich authentic flavors.
Trocadero (3 St. Andrews Street), theater-inspired restaurant, highly-rated food near St. Stephen's Green.
For inexpensive nibbles while listening to street musicians at Temple Bar Square, or watching the river and people flow by, there are a number places with kabab, dogs, burgers, and pizzas for take-out at the center:
Leo Burdock's (Epicurian Hall, 13 Liffey Walk), Dublin's most experienced fish and chip shop (since 1913), just across Ha'Penny Bridge.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen (1 Temple Bar Square), the local outpost of a chain of burger joints.
Dublin is a world center for innovative stage productions. A few centers of the art include:
The Abbey Theatre (26 Lower Abbey St), the national theater of Ireland, founded in 1903 by W. B. Yeats, creates world-class productions to engage with and reflect Irish society and promote new Irish writer and artists. At the same time they sustain and re-imagine the full repertoire of Irish plays.
Project Arts Centre (39 East Essex St, Temple Bar), at the heart of Dublin artistic life, and the forefront of cutting edge Irish art. Extensive programs of visual arts, dance, music and theater challenges audiences and artists alike in a year-round series in two performance spaces. Gallery exhibitions feature Irish and International works using a variety of media, in solo and group shows.
Other theaters include: the Draiocht (Blanchardstown Centre); the Olympia Theatre (Dame St, opposite Dublin Castle); the Gate Theatre (Cavendish Row, Parnell Sq); and the New Theatre (43 E Essex St, Temple Bar).
The annual Dublin Gay Theatre Festival celebrates gay people's contribution to the theater, past and present; founded in 2004 to mark the 150th anniversary of Oscar Wilde's birth, in his native city. They showcase Irish and international gay artists, and works with gay themes or relevance.
The annual 16-day Dublin Fringe Festival of theater, comedy, music, dance and spectacle takes place at more than a dozen additional theater and performance venues around the city - and in the streets.
The Irish Film Institute (6 Eustace St, Temple Bar) presents a diverse program of the best international and Irish films --new releases, curated seasons, festivals plus daily screenings and events.
Basic Instincts (8 Eustace Street), Dublin's only gay-owned store of its kind, with leather PVC, rubber wear, intimate lingerie; adult magazines, greeting cards, DVDs, kinky gifts, Mister B merchandise. They also stock handmade Venetian masks.
Chapters Bookstore (Ivy Exchange on Parnell St), a book lover's delight, with new and used books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines of all kinds.