I remember one of my first experiences in Dublin, crawling from bar to bar during the Guinness Blues Festival which takes place each year between the months of May and June. Pubs across town host acts small and large — all blues related — and Irish and blues enthusiasts alike have yet another excuse to go out pubbing.
Not that you need excuses in Dublin, really. If anything you need an excuse not to go pubbing, because there are few institutions like the Irish pub and few traditions as easy to learn and love as drinking, singing, whipping out a bodhran and dancing on the tables. I remember when that first happened to me, in Cork. And then again in Dingle. And in Doolin and in Dublin twice and then in Strabane … great craic, although I’ve never used that word because it sounds funny coming out of anyone but an Irishmen.
The pub and the dancing are so ingrained in the culture that I don’t have to come up with “my favorite pub crawl” (which is great, because I remember little anyway). There are dozens of different crawls to choose from, including:
A Literary Dublin Pub Crawl, hosted by Colm Quilligan, which looks like a whole lot of fun and this James Joyce-inspired pub crawl that meanders all over town. I like the definition of a pub crawl given by the James Joyce fan:
” a pub crawl… is a controlled (?) drinking spree with the simple intention of sampling a drink in as many hostelries as possible.”
Now that we’ve mentioned bodhran’s and table dancing, we might as well include a traditional Irish music pub crawl, hosted by two musicians with an excellent tolerance for stout beer. Ireland is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life and a lot of my appreciation for the country comes through the music – impromptu concerts at 3am outside of a pub in Doolin, jam sessions in Belfast and of course blues in Dublin (blues actually is a mixture of African and Irish music, but that’s another story for another time).
But not all of us want to go from pub to pub listening to obscure quotes or melancholic tunes. For the part animal just looking to get sauced, then perhaps the New Dublin City pub crawl is for you. Or perhaps you want to meet backpackers and fellow travelers, if so then the Generational Backpacker pub crawl might be your glass of Guinness. Just looking for Ye Olde pub crawl – no required reading or listening, no requirement to “suck down that Irish Carbomb!” – just good beer and good friends? Then check out the Dublin City pub crawl, a classic affair.
Having a guide on your pub crawl is nice, because you can learn a little about the city and you won’t have to deal with maps and itineraries. And when you get tired of the guide you can always slip away. But the downside is that the adventure is taken away from the experience a bit. Pub crawls are often spontaneous events (especially after the second pub) so why not just grab a Dublin City pub map, or write down these lyrics from a Merry Ploughboys song and take to the streets. This is Dublin after all and you can’t walk more than 100 meters without passing a pub …
Written by Sascha Matuszak for EuropeUpClose.com