Cork city has a wide range of pubs and bars for a diverse range of people from noisy student bars to trendy upmarket bars/nightclubs. The latest modern bars and nightclubs around tend to be high on style, music and fun, offering many distractions such as a DJ and televised shows/ matches which can be great for a fun night out but sometimes one just wants a nice small pub where one can sit down with friends, regale each other with stories and have a laugh over a few well drawn pints.
So for this weeks post we thought we’d look at some of these unsung but very well regarded traditional small pubs in Cork City. In the following list are some of the smallest pubs in the city but what they all have in common is basically being fancy free with a personality of their own. They offer good drink, good subtle music that ads rather than detracts from conversation, snug areas for small groups of people to relax in and above all a cosy and homely atmosphere with no distractions.
The following are ten of the best and smallest pubs in the city whose sole aim is to recreate the cosy and friendly atmosphere of the old style pubs of yesteryear.
Hi B Bar (Hibernian) on Oliver Plunkett Street. A real traditional pub, one of the smallest pubs in this list, its size and atmosphere give the impression of a room in ones house with a bar serving drinks at the end exactly what a pub used to be. Well known around Cork for its quirkiness and the famous “no mobile phone” rule, allowing the main conversations and ambience in the pub to be held without outside distractions.
While the Hi B Bar is a very small pub, the claim of the smallest can go to Pat Buckley’s on Mulgrave Road at the end of Shandon Street by the famous cathedral. A real old Cork city family run local pub, Pat Buckleys is like the Hi B Bar, similar in size and atmosphere to a sitting room with a few seats and a bar. Is a big hit with the locals and an institution in its own right, great for a good pint of Murphys in friendly and cosy settings.
The Castle Inn on North Main Street, close to Washington Street. Has a famous little snug in front of the bar which is ideal for small groups to settle down in and relax over a few drinks away from the rest of main pub area. The greatness of this little snug is that one doesn’t even have to get up of ones seat to order a drink as its right in front of the bar. Even if one is not lucky enough to find seating in the snug one can still appreciate the unique old atmosphere of the Castle Inn, an old pub that retains all of its old world Irish country charm dedicated solely to providing good drink and a warm atmosphere without the excess frills such as music and style of a modern bar.
Callanan on Georges Quay, is another small gem of an old style pub dedicated solely to providing good drink with no modern frills, in the same vein as the previous three, in that it’s a small local pub dedicated to offering a friendly service to the locals where atmosphere, good service and good drink overrides style and modern convenience.
A bit more modern and music friendly than the previous four, The Oval Bar on South Main Street and opposite the old Beamish and Crawford brewery, is a little pub with an interesting décor containing many snugs and corners to hide away in from the rest of the crowd, ideal for small groups to seat themselves down in whilst listening to the very good selection of rock music available.
Preachers on Washington Street, is a cosy small pub that offers an alternative to the more modern bars whilst being a bit more modern than the old man pubs. It is well known for its music (mainly rock and alternative), large collection of rock posters and quirky memorabilia, its’ wooden decor and also the large pitchers of beer it serves.
Tom Barry’s on Barrack Street is a cosy quiet little pub with memorabilia, and candlelit tables dedicated to the art of drinking and good old fashioned conversation, they even supply printed crosswords and games to get one started. While indoors is cosy outdoors is even more so as they have a large fantastic beer garden out the back which has its own heated outdoor smoking room perfect for those cold nights when you can avail of a smoke over drinks whilst taking in the fresh air with friends old and new.
Tucked away on the little known Mutton Lane off Patrick’s Street with access to the English Market, and noted for the brilliant mural of everything related to Cork on the wall opposite is the Mutton Lane Inn. The Mutton Lane Inn a pub with a lovely cosy atmosphere and a décor that hints at its 18th century origin with its old fashioned lighting, slow burning candlelit tables, dark oak panelling and exposed beam ceilings. It offers a fine selection of national (pay particular attention to their stout) and international beers and drinks and is a lovely atmospheric and cosy little pub in which to enjoy good drink and conversation while listening to subtle music.
Sin E on Coberg Street is considered one of the only true pub or public houses in the truest sense of the word left in Cork city. Owned by the same management that owns the Mutton Lane Inn, the Sin E is a traditional old fashioned pub and a great place to sit down to a few drinks and relax in a good environment while listening to some good traditional Irish music. Has an upstairs section that often hosts poetry reading on a select night.
While most the pubs on the list are your typical Irish pubs offering good local stout and beers we end this selection with the Bierhaus on Popes Quay, a more international variant, well known for its selection of the finest international beers with a selection of over 50 international beers, of which a new beer is usually added to the list every few months. Whilst more internationally inclined like the others on the list it is a small pub dedicated to the fine art of relaxing and conversing over good quality drink from around the world.
And that is what separates these pubs from others, the offer of great drinks in great settings. They may be the smallest but what they lack in size they more than make up for in quality and service offered.