We’ve been to Limerick, Ireland, more times than I can count. We tend to just follow our relatives to wherever the new place is to hangout. But, occasionally we explore on our own. During this visit, though, we asked where could we find the best pint of Guinness in Limerick. Sure, we asked the family, but we also threw out some Tweets asking the locals.
Thus started several weeks of hard core research (or, trips to local watering holes) in order to find the best pint of Guinness in Limerick.
Now, I should note, I love my Guinness. I’ve been told what makes a good Guinness. It generally has to do with the length of the draw, or the length of the tube that moves the Guinness from the keg to the tap. And, occasionally I do taste a Guinness that is a little strange. But, I’m no expert. Although with the number of pints I’ve drank over the last 15 years you would think I would be an expert.
What makes the best pint of Guinness in Limerick, then, if I am a self proclaimed non-expert? The atmosphere of the pub, the story of the pub, and the people we are with. Because, as much as pouring a good pint of Guinness is important, many people head to the pub for the craic, or the conversation.
Flannery’s – Patsy Flannery’s – The Horse Racing Pint
Flannery’s Bar on Wickham is exactly what you imagine a Limerick pub to be. Proudly displaying a sign stating that it was established in 1898, it’s forest green store front is accented with a bright red door, and hanging flower pots. It’s a small pub, with red upholstered benches along the walls, and a traditional, mosaic styled fireplace to one side.
We generally seem to find ourselves in Flannery’s on Sundays, surrounded by locals betting on the ponies. I never realized how big horse racing was until our last few trips to Ireland, where the coverage is pipped into bars all over the country. If you want to ensure you can watch the ponies while sipping a pint, head to Flannery’s Bar.
Flannery’s – Jerry Flannery’s – The Younger Pint
Do you know how many bars are called Flannery’s in Limerick? Neither do I, but let’s just say it’s a lot. I think they are all related too. Jerry Flannery’s on Catherine Street towers over everything else on the block with a giant rugby ball coming out of the front. On it’s face it is the complete opposite of Patsy Flannery’s, the other Flannery’s, on Wickham.
This Flannery’s is a lot larger and caters to a younger crowd. We were there on a Sunday (the same Sunday as Patsy Flannery’s if you are keeping track) with a mess of Eric’s cousins, so we had a lot of fun, with loads of great craic. But, I am sure on Fridays and Saturdays it gets a bit more crowded.
Mickey Martin’s – The City Center Pint
The sign out front is made out of Scrabble letters, and there’s a giant pig suspended over the alley way. Mickey Martin’s is just off the pedestrian shopping lane, down a narrow alley, in the middle of the city center. We find ourselves in Mickey’s mostly for the lunch specials, but also because we have fond memories of Mickey ourselves. He also runs Scott’s Bar down in Kilkee, where we spent much of our two week beach holiday in 2012. We sat at Scott’s with our cousin, Ed, hearing all of Mickey’s old stories. Although now run by Mickey’s daughter, for us, Mickey’s is a reminder of our time spent with Ed at the beach.
Tom Collins – The Old School Pint
Tom Collins on Cecil is one of the first pubs we ever went to in Ireland, over fifteen years ago, with Eric’s Uncle Jack. It was just when Guinness came out with its marketing campaign for Guinness Extra Cold. Before that, Guinness was always served at or just above room temperature. As an American, I was okay with the switch. The traditional Irishmen, though, were not so keen. We remember sitting in the back corner, along the wall, at Tom Collins watching a man attempting to ensure an old school pint, by asking the bartender to submerge his pint in boiling hot water, to warm it down. Yeah, old school pint of Guinness in Limerick.
The White House Bar – The Friendly Pint
Just when I thought Patsy Flannery’s was the oldest pub in town, we were told about the White House Bar. We had never been to the White House before, but someone on Twitter told us about it during our search for the best pint of Guinness in Limerick, so we figured we would give it a shot. The White House is on the corner of O’Connell Street across from the Limerick Chamber of Commerce, in an old building with really tall ceilings. The ceilings make it seem loads bigger than most of the other pubs in Limerick.
The White House was established in 1812, the year the American White House was burned down…some irony indeed. It was also one of the friendlies places, with the bartender and several locals coming up to speak with us. One of the locals was an old poet, wearing a Christmas tie, in July. The welcome from the locals made the White House seem friendly for sure. Although our goal was to stop in for just a pint, we ended up staying for three. That’s the kind of place the White House Bar is.
The Ardhu – The Suburban Pint
Another bar with fond memories, it’s the closest pub to Aunt Theresa and Uncle Jack. It means it’s an easy walk for a pint. The Ardhu became an unofficial office for us during one of our winter trips to Limerick. We would hang at the Ardhu in the afternoon, with a couple of pints and our laptops. Due to it’s location outside of the city center, on the Ennis Road, I call the Ardhu the suburban pint. With two separate bars and a huge outdoor space, it gets busy on the weekends, with kids running around outside. If any bar can have a family feel, it’s the Ardhu.
Curragower – The Seafood Chowder Pint
The Curragower lies along the River Shannon, opposite the city center and King John’s Castle. It’s a lovely pub, with an outdoor patio offering amazing views. It definitely would win for the best Guinness in Limerick with a view, but really, it’s all about the seafood chowder. The Curragower, hands down, has the best seafood chowder I’ve ever had, ever. Period. We continued to try chowders elsewhere, but the Curragower’s is so creamy, with large chunks of fish, shrimp, and mussels. It’s served with fresh Irish brown bread and soft creamy Irish butter. My ideal afternoon is a cup of chowder and a pint of Guinness in Limerick, at the Curragower.
Nancy Blake’s – The Last Chance Pint
For people who know Limerick, there is no way any of them would include Nancy Blake’s on a list of the best Guinness in Limerick. But, Nancy’s holds an important place on this list. Nancy’s is a late night bar. I’ve found myself more than once at Nancy’s, after 2 am, doing shots, and yelling over the music. When most bars in Limerick close around midnight, Nancy’s offers the late night alternative. In fact, I’ve never had a pint of Guinness at Nancy’s. Usually by the time we get there, I’ve switched to beer or something else. I include Nancy Blake’s on this list for one important reason – if you want a pint of Guinness in Limerick after midnight, chances are, you will find yourself at Nancy’s for a last chance pint.
The Verdict? Where is the BEST Pint of Guinness in Limerick?
It’s kind of funny. We often told our cousins that we were headed out for a pint for research, making it appear that our job was to drink as many pints of Guinness in Limerick as possible. I received a good ole fashioned eye roll from a few of them, as we made our way out to work, often with a sarcastic “must be nice” or “I want your job.” But, it was hard work, and we rose to the task, to bring our conclusion on the best Guinness in Limerick.
For me, it was the White House Bar, and for Eric, it was Patsy Flannery’s. They were both good. To be sure, though, we will have to continue our research during our next trip.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.