By Jessica Hergert
Every night the streets are filled with buses that whoosh by, taxis honking and people laughing. There are crowded bars packed with fans watching soccer games being live-streamed, posh nightclubs with comfortable couches and loud clubs with bouncers out front that seem straight out of a movie.
If there is one element that every country in this world has in common, it is that cities are exciting. They are busier, more populated and offer more opportunities than the countryside.
As the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is like a traditional city: a large population, complex public transportation system, financial hubs, and people who just do not seem to sleep.
Despite the hustle and bustle of noisy everyday life, Dublin has a nightlife unlike any city I have seen.
As someone who doesn’t drink regularly, I was intimidated by the preconceived notion that once the sunset fell, the pressure to join in the city’s drinking culture would be overwhelming.
However, like most stereotypes, this was not the case and Dublin’s nightlife continues to surprise me with its laid-back attitude and genuinely fun atmosphere.
Lost in the crowd
One of the most tourist-populated places in Dublin is the Temple Bar district which is home to The Temple Bar pub.
Established in 1840, The Temple Bar always serves pints of Guinness and fresh oysters, and plays trad music (traditional Irish music). Crowds of people can be seen on a busy Friday night taking selfies in front of the famous storefront.
When I first arrived in Dublin, I wanted to hit every tourist milestone., including getting a pint at Temple Bar. I quickly found out two things: I do not like Guinness and The Temple Bar is crowded all the time.
Instead, I explored the surrounding area, taking in everything: the myriad of languages blending together, the traditional Irish menus posted outside every pub advertising cottage pies and fresh seafood chowder, and the endless sounds of Celtic music coming from inside the buildings.
Transported to Old Ireland
Still, I wanted something different so I asked around at my school and internship. Everybody whom I spoke to recommended The Cobblestone Pub.
The Cobblestone is small, quaint and located in a much less toured area of Dublin. There are cobblestone streets surrounding the area that instantly makes the city feel smaller and older. There’s no food served but the pub is known for their live music seisiúns (sessions).
Walking into The Cobblestone is what I imagine being transported back in time is like. The pub is so lively, with sounds of the Irish fiddle that you instantly start tapping your feet.
The band plays in a small corner of the pub, taking turns singing and harmonizing. Everything seems to be improvised. When I was there, I saw a man sitting at the bar, not associated with the band at all, just start singing unaccompanied. He sang a historical Irish song that was so moving the entire Friday night bar scene went silent for the duration of his song.
Regardless of which pub I am in, the local Irish patrons have been the reason I come back. Unlike American bars, there is no pressure to drink and everybody is looking for the place with the best “craic.”
Pronounced “crack,” craic means fun in Irish. It is an ongoing joke between Americans and Irish that saying “where’s the best craic” in America would have a much different outcome than finding out where the best party is.
City of Lights
Of course, Dublin is so much more than its pubs. At night, the city lights up, including the Parliament building that displays orange, green and white light down its entire face to resemble the Irish flag.
The River Liffey, which runs through the city, is a beautiful place to walk at night. You can look out and see the lights reflected in the always rushing water.
There are concerts and open-mic nights everywhere. You can find something to do during the week or on weekends without a problem.
The culture and nightlife of Dublin has been one of my favorite surprises since I arrived and I can’t wait to experience more of it over the next three months.
Originally published in the 3/8/17 edition.