Great Irish Gastropubs Near Must-See Sights

Three Castle Head & Crookhaven InnThree Castle Head & Crookhaven InnTacumshane Windmill & The Lobster Pot 
Tacumshane Windmill & The Lobster Pot Garnish Island & Casey'sPearse's Cottage & O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar
Pearse's Cottage & O’Dowd’s Seafood BarSean’s Bar & The Fatted Calf Hillsborough Castle Gardens & The Parson’s Nose
Grainan of Aileach & Harry’s BarGlendalough & Byrne and Woods PubGlendalough & Byrne and Woods Pub
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Coounty Cork: Three Castle Head

On Ireland’s southwestern-most Mizen Peninsula, tucked away in a rocky vale next to a little lake on the coast, stand the ruins of a castle and tower. The Mahoney clan built this fort in the 15th century for protection after escaping Norman invaders. It worked, too; and it’s easy to see why, given the isolation and rugged terrain. 

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

On the other side of the peninsula is the coastal fishing village of Crookhaven and its Crookhaven Inn, where they serve a deliciously nutty homemade brown bread to accompany their Instagram-ready plates of locally sourced food.

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County Wexford: Tacumshane Windmill 

Built in the 1840s, the thatch-roofed Tacumshane Windmill is Ireland’s oldest intact windmill. Its inner workings were originally made from wood salvaged from nearby shipwrecks. 


Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

Just across the nearby lake, you’ll find a great lunch in Carne at the old Lobster Pot. Select your victim from the tank and the folks here will expertly prepare it for you. There's also an excellent menu of fresh seafood.  

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County Cork: Glengarriff and Garnish Island

From the cute town of Glengarriff, a short ferry ride across Bantry Bay (€10) takes you past some harbor seals to the Eden-like Garnish Island (€5 admission). Two centuries ago it was bare rock that served as a garrison for soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars. 

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County Galway: Pearse’s Cottage

On a hillside overlooking picturesque Galway Bay is Pearse's Cottage, the humble but evocative thatched home of one of Ireland’s “founding fathers,” Patrick Pearse. His leadership in the 1916 uprising against the British government ended in his arrest and execution, but it also led to eventual independence for Ireland in 1922. 

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

A beautiful half-hour drive west comes to another seaside town, Roundstone, where O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar (run by the O’Dowd family for five generations) makes fine, local pub dishes. Their specialty: seaweed, imaginatively used in everything from their bread to hummus to panna cotta.

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County Westmeath: Sean’s Bar

A bar? Yes: When it dates back to 900 AD it is. In the town of Athlone next to the town’s castle, Sean’s Bar is certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest bar in Ireland. Grab a pint of their house ale (€4-5)--cleverly dubbed “900 AD”--then head across the river to the Fatted Calf, where the chef creates upscale cuisine with ingredients from local producers, like meats from Horans Pork Shop, a butchery whose storefront you can see from your table. 


Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County Down, Northern Ireland: Hillsborough Castle Gardens

At the top of the colorful, quaint, and bustling town of Hillsborough sits Hillsborough Castle (admission £5) , which houses Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State and occasionally also the British royal family. Paths in the castle gardens traverse a lake, cool green woods, and acres of beautifully maintained gardens, including what residents claim is Europe’s largest rhododendron. Down the street is the Parson’s Nose, a gastropub with a daily-changing menu that takes showcases local, seasonal ingredients. The house-made desserts are unforgettable.

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

 County Donegal: Grianan of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach in Donegal, Ireland’s northernmost county, is a circular stone hilltop dating from around 1700 BC. With its 360-degree views of the countryside, it stood as a defensive outpost for various kings and giants for centuries. The three-stories-high interior is reminiscent of a colosseum, and the exterior is a windy watch-point overlooking the world. For lunch, Harry’s Bar in nearby Bridgend offers fine dining and a pint. Bonus: on Saturday mornings you can shop at Harry’s wonderful local farmers’ market.

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

County WicklowGlendalough Monastery

Though founded in the 6th century, most of the ruins of the monastic city of Glendalough (admission €5) are a mere 1000 years old or so. The monastery covers acres of peaceful woods. Explore the cathedral and three other churches, a 100-foot-tall round tower, and cemetery grounds with towering Celtic high crosses. 

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

Grab lunch at nearby Byrne & Woods restaurant, an award-winning gastropub where fish & chips or rustic lamb stew share a menu with slow-roasted pork with sage chutney and a cider jus.

Courtesy Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker

We're pairing legendary landscapes with outstanding pub fare with these top picks from the award-winning travel writers behind LittleRoadsEurope.com

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