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The Pub Scene

Foremost in anyone’s mind when it comes to Dublin nightlife is bound to be its pubs. These are the secular temples of Ireland, and a cultural export that has conquered the world. The Irish didn’t invent the pub, but many would say they perfected it. In Ulysses, James Joyce referred to the puzzle of trying to cross Dublin without passing a pub; his characters quickly abandoned the quest as impossible, and stopped to sample a few pints instead. You may want to look upon that as a challenge.

Listen to the Music -- When you're out for a night of traditional Irish folk music, you should know that some pubs charge and some do not; if the band is playing informally in the main bar, as often happens, there's no charge, although they will probably pass a hat at some point, and everybody should toss in a few euro. If there is a charge, the music usually happens in a separate room from the main pub, and the charge will be noted on the door; usually it's about €5 to €10, and you pay as you go in, cash only.

And, don’t worry. If they're selling CDs they'll make sure you know about it. (They'll probably autograph them too, after the set.)

Pub Hours -- Traditionally, pubs close early in Ireland (at 11pm in winter, 11:30pm-12:30am in summer), and for many, that's too soon to call it a night. If you're in that group, you might want to crawl to one of the many late-night pubs and bars. These boozers have received legal permission to remain open after hours, usually until 2 or 3am. 

One popular late-nighter for the 18-to-25 set is the Capitol, 18 Lower Stephen's St., Dublin 2 (tel. 01/475-7166; www.capitol.ie).

After-hours pubs that attract the young and hip but are still congenial for those over 25 include Whelan's, 25 Wexford St., Dublin 2 (tel. 01/478-0766; www.whelanslive.com), and the second-oldest pub in Dublin, the Bleeding Horse, 24-25 Camden St., Dublin 2 (tel. 01/475-2705).

For the over-30 late crowd, try Dakota, 9 William St., Dublin 2 (tel. 01/672-7696; www.dakotabar.ie), and Sinnotts, South King Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/478-4698; www.sinnotts.ie).

There are also a large range of bars and nightclubs where you can head to continue the action. 

Bars & Nightclubs

Over the last few years, cocktail bars and nightclubs have been springing up around Dublin like daffodils in spring. The nightclub scene is confoundingly complex. One club could be a gay fetish scene one night and techno-pop dance the next, so you have to stay on your toes. The first rule is to get the latest listings from local sources.

The hottest clubs have a "strict" (read: unfriendly) door policy of admitting only "regulars." Your chances of getting past the door increase if you're female and wear your hippest clothes.

Cover charges tend to fluctuate from place to place and from night to night and even from person to person (some people can't buy their way in, while others glide in gratis). In other words, clubbing here is pretty much like any other fashionable capital city. Cover charges range from nothing to around €20 for the fanciest places and they can vary nightly, with rates spiking on Friday and Saturday nights. Check club websites before going so you won’t be surprised.

As for bars, they generally open at noon and may stay open as late as 2:30am, depending on the day of the week.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.