London’s Irish pubs offer the most authentic Emerald Isle experience short of actually catching a Ryanair flight to Dublin. If you’re in search of a smooth pint of Guinness, a steaming bowl of
Irish stew or traditional folk tunes, these pubs are well worth a punt. The welcome is warm – especially if you’re willing to join in with that famous Irish party spirit – and the blarney at the
bar will likely have you coming back for more.
The Auld Shillelagh, Stoke Newington
This North London take on an old-school Irish bar looks like the kind of place TV’s toast of Dublin, Mrs Brown’s Boys, would hang out – perfect for acting the maggot and enjoying the craic with hospitable Roscommon expat staff, who have been serving Stokey for over 20 years.
Boston Arms, Gospel Oak
Majoring in live music, singing, sports and seemingly endless happy hours, this Irish pub stocks all the regulars behind the bar, all poured by a friendly team. The adjacent Boston Music Room hosts a healthy lineup of rock acts and if that brings out your inner rock star, you’ll be pleased to hear the pub organises karaoke every Friday night.
The Cow, Bayswater
In 2015, Tom Conran celebrated 20 years at The Cow by giving the place a makeover – well, the upstairs dining rooms at least. The ground-floor pub and terrace remain pleasantly scruffy, while the restaurant has been enlarged and smartened up with red leather banquettes, a matching colourful floor and quirky modern art.
The Churchill Arms, Kensington
Built in 1750, this Kensington boozer was once frequented by Winston Churchill's grandparents, but despite the uber-English moniker and incorporated Thai restaurant, this place is solidly Irish. Case in point: for St Paddy’s Day, the entire pub turns green, serves up Irish stew and puts on live music.
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
Down a quiet backstreet you’ll find this charming local boozer, drenched in ivy, which boasts a rather magical back garden with a many-tiered, boozy tree house. The inside space is multi-layered too, with a couple of bars, a large back room and a pool table. Sport is a passion here, so you can pick up a cue or watch the match on TV.
Nuala Bar, Clerkenwell
The bar at Niall Davidson’s Nuala restaurant is a fine example of a modern Irish bar. Refreshingly devoid of leprechaun lore, its focus falls firmly on a cracking collection of whiskies, well-kept Guiness and ocassional live music.
The Porterhouse, Covent Garden
You won’t need a satnav to find the London offshoot of this Dublin brewing outfit: the clamour of the post-work crowd on the kerbside courtyard signals the spot. This juggernaut of a venue is a labyrinthine sprawl of parlours, snugs and recesses that might be mistaken for a Tim Burton film set.
The Tipperary, City
It’s reckoned that the Tipperary (once known as The Boar’s Head) was the first Irish pub outside the Emerald Isle. It began life as a medieval monastery, survived the plague, the Great Fire of London and two world wars and has preserved its most important asset – authenticity.
Tir Na Nog, Earlsfield
Its moniker means ‘land of eternal youth’ and, after a few hours in this fun Irish pub, you’ll probably feel like a teenager again. That’s because this family-run Wandsworth local is all about the great craic, with local ales sold for as little as £3 a pint, a packed sports-screening schedule, a pool table and, of course, expertly poured Guinness.
The Toucan, Soho
The toucan has long been Guinness’s advertising emblem, so the walls here are covered with them, starring in various retro advertising permutations. Check out the basement, whose bar is a kitsch, atmospheric squeeze. There’s also a fair range of Irish whiskey too, and the sort of food Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle might rustle up.
If you're more interested in visiting pubs for the sports than the craic, take a look at our list of London’s best sports bars.