May the roof above your head never fall in, and those gathered beneath it never fall out
As the old saying goes, everyone is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. An official public holiday since 1903, the Irish aren’t known for needing an excuse for a good session down the pub, but this way, the whole world can join in too; March 17th has been embraced worldwide as a day to celebrate the Luck o’ the Irish and all things Shamrock green.
London is one of the best cities in the world to celebrate the day with a perfectly poured pint of Guinness [and the Trafalgar Square parade], so, here’s the craic; after much research (sic: pints) here are our top places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and drink like an Irishman for the rest of the year!
Can’t stretch to a weekend away in Dublin, but want to experience the vibe of the Temple District while you sip on an ice cold pint of the Black Stuff? Then the Auld Shillelagh is for you. Tucked away in Stoke Newington what this pub lacks in size it more than makes up for in atmosphere. On the right side of raucous, since its opening in 1991 the Shillelagh has grown to three times the size with a beer garden and multiple large screens for all the Gaellic football matches. More often than not their Guinness is voted as the best in London, and the pub has even been awarded the most authentic Irish pub in the world outside of Ireland by the Irish Times. An accolade indeed! With live music every Friday and Saturday night, as they say here, any visit will have you “off the lease and on the lash.”
Nearest Tube: Stoke Newington
You can sum The Toucan up in just four words: Great Guinness, Good Food. Built as a shrine to Ireland’s favourite export, you can easily lose an afternoon to a velvety pint of Guinness here. With bowls of Tayto crisps on the bar, sport on the TVs, and sporadic afternoons of live music, make sure you line your stomach with one of their traditional Celtic stews before getting stuck into their list of Guinness-based cocktails. The pub even had Jimi Hendrix’s seal of approval, the late legend having played a gig in their basement during the 70s.
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road
It’s a long way to Tipperary…unless you’re near Fleet St that is. With the original pub dating back to the early 1600s – built from the stone of nearby C14th Whitefriar’s Monastery that saved it from burning in the Great Fire of 1666 – it is said that the Tipperary was the first Irish pub outside of Ireland. Purchased by Mooney’s Brewery of Dublin in the C17th (when known as The Boar’s Head), it is also said that this was the first pub to sell Guinness in order to impress the Fleet Street journos. Now owned by Greene King, following an extensive refit a lot of original features have been kept, and yes, Guinness is still on tap.
Nearest Tube: City Thameslink
An interesting combo of a traditional Irish pub with Thai Kitchen – a la The Churchill Arms – Mc & Sons is decorated with the history of the Mc Elhinney family, with some family members still propping up the bar today. If you’re in a group, try and grab the snug (fits up to 10) with its own hatch through to the bar. These snugs were originally built in Irish bars to allow ladies to drink without being hassled. The Thai restaurant churns out classic street food dishes, while their lunchtime takeaway boxes are very popular for local workers.
Nearest Tube: Southwark
Born in 1788, Dublin-native Waxy O’Connor – so named after his profession as a candle maker – was notorious for his ability to consume vast amounts of hard liquor; as he rightly said, “such heat does parch a man…” There could be no more apt a name then for a rowdy Irish bar in the heart of London! Cemented in local legend, the centrepiece of the pub is a 250-year-old tree that died naturally in Ireland in 1994, only for it to be reformed and “planted” in the pub in 1995. No wonder it was awarded Irish Pub of the Year, Europe 2018 by Irish Hospitality Global. A labyrinthine pub with a Cathedral-like interior, made up of 4 bars over 6 levels, enjoy live music over 4 nights a week in an atmosphere reminiscent of a boozer in Ireland’s Capital.
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
It’s hard to find a “local’s pub” in the heart of Camden, and even rarer for an authentic-feeling Irish Bar. Luckily for us, The Sheephaven Bay manages it, with good craic to have all round. The main bar is a haven for sports’ enthusiasts, covered in signed memorabilia, while the lounge provides respite with large leather sofas and a fireplace in front of which you can enjoy any one of their 30 malt whisky’s on offer. During sunnier months the beer garden is a favourite spot to enjoy an ice-cold Guinness, as is their conservatory. Matches are shown on large TVs, while there are DJ nights at the weekend. You can easily lose an afternoon in here and believe you’re walking out onto the streets of Dublin.
Nearest Tube: Camden