A deep love of music, a lively populace and plenty of great venues, Limerick is a fantastic place to hit the town. In the heart of the city, you might feel like you’re stepping back in time as you stumble across pubs crammed with open fires and ad-hoc music sessions. Elsewhere, the city’s passion for sport shines through in the ample sports bars; many of which are decked out in the colours and icons of local heroes, Munster Rugby. There’s a rising hip-hop scene, too, and you’ll find lots to love in the gastropubs, which combine a high standard of food with affordable charm. Here are our absolute favourites…
Dating back to 1724, the lively Locke Bar in Limerick City is an authentic local institution, the home of live music, vibrant nights, a wood-paneled school feel, summer BBQs and a great pint of the black stuff. Food is traditional: the menu includes local favourites like potted crab, lamb stew, fish and chips, and plenty of sublime Irish steak.
Unquestionably Limerick’s most famous pub, Dolan’s is the hub of the city’s increasingly vibrant music scene, with a revolving door of high-end musicians from across the city, elsewhere in Ireland and beyond playing here every week. From trad in the front bar to heavy rock in the basement, via Ireland’s abundant and growing hip-hop scene, you’ll find it all in here, even (although slightly out of place) live sports in the main bar. Expect a boisterous night out. The traditional-style restaurant’s not bad, too!
A pretty bar for a pretty town. Adare is one of Ireland’s most memorable spots to explore, and Aunty Lena’s is its top nightlife destination, dating back to 1806. The bar crowd is a blend of tourists and locals searching for that rural evening buzz. Late nights here are flavoured with a glorious selection of Irish whiskey and plenty of craft beer. The food menu is rather basic, but it does include one real Irish essential – bacon and cabbage.
One of Limerick’s more old world-style pubs, O’Connell’s might be serving beer from the capital, but its carvery and full Irish breakfast are pure west coast. Renowned as a rugby pub (and regularly hosting members of the Munster squad amongst their adoring regulars), the evening menu is produced by award-winning chef John Carr, and features duck, herb crusted pork and chunky sirloin. Expect a riot on match days.
A very local-leaning pub, the North Star is a far cry from the relative calm of the regular tourist itinerary. It’s a slightly shoddy pub, but one with a great atmosphere, known for its live music and prime location on the banks of the Shannon. The Monday nights here are legendary for their wild, music-driven chaos; and while things mellow a bit mid-week, Friday and Saturday are frantic, too. Expect vibrant sing-alongs, worse-for-wear patrons and a sense that the place is not quite fully under control.
As a sports bar with its own signature whiskey and many a lively trad session, Jerry Flannery’s has everything you could ask of an Irish pub. The family-run bar’s obsession with the core local sport, rugby, runs deep (the name is taken from a member of the family, a legendary Munster rugby player), and it’s more than lively on match days. Flannery’s also prides itself on atmosphere, whether it’s the winter open fires, moody pub lighting or countless local stories. Expect queues on peak nights, but nothing crazy enough to stop you getting stuck into that special reserve as you close out your evening.