Cheap drinks around Dublin: Smithfield and Phibsborough

Residents of Dublin’s most popular student areas tell us about their local watering holes

Sometimes the trek into town is just too much- the price of the taxi, the outrageously long queues, the same tunes night in and night out. Every now and again, you just need a change. So to save you the trouble of having to sieve through you local pubs and clubs, we asked residents of Smithfield and Phibsborough to point you in the right direction for cheap student drinks.

Rateeka Johari, Smithfield:

Located on Dublin’s northside, Smithfield is a vibrant student area accessible by the red line luas and buses from city center. Whilst it is most famous for the Jameson distillery, it is also home to Smithfield Square, which flanked by restaurants, plus the Lighthouse Cinema. The area also hosts many events such as Culture night.

A must visit is the Cobblestone Bar. It’s a wonderful authentic Irish pub, not “tourist-y” like Temple Bar. The music is traditional like you read or hear about. It’s not very big but it is spacious enough if you want to stand next to the musicians or at the back talking. The alcohol is much cheaper than what you would get in Temple Bar, and they play live trad music for free.  Apart from the regular, they also have a good selection of craft beers. I have spoken to a number of locals, and everyone agrees that you can’t leave the area without popping in to the Cobblestone.

Walsh & Co., commonly referred to as Walsh’s is a nice, cozy pub in Stoneybatter. It’s is a few blocks away from the Luas stop but there’s a bus stop right outside. There is no music and they don’t put on the television at night, so it’s a good place for someone looking for a quiet spot to enjoy some beer.

If you’re looking for something a bit posher, L. Mulligan Grocer is also in Stoneybatter. It’s more expensive than Walsh’s but they have a wide range of food and beers on tap.

Dice bar on Queen street is the perfect place for a lazy drink with friends. They have a decent selection of beers, but the homebrew Revolution Red or the Franciscan Well Rebel red are the winners. They also serve Pipers crisps the perfect accompaniment to a beer.

A great place to stop off after seeing a film at the Lighthouse is Oscars Café Bar. It’s different to the one in Temple Bar with nice outdoor seating, when the weather is nice. The music is an eclectic mix of R&B, indie and rock but they are most renowned for their mussels and chowder. They have a good selection of beers, but it is a little expensive compared to the other bars in the area.

Harry Downes, Phibsborough:

Phibsborough is an unusual area of Dublin. Set at the beginning of Northside, it balances a young, multicultural population within an eclectic landscape of industrial parks and Georgian terraces. Its closeness to Trinity and the situation of DIT’s Bolton Street campus in Phibsborough give it one of the largest student populations in Dublin. TCDSU operates one of its new communities in Phibsborough.

Outside the city centre and Rathmines, Dublin nightlife seems dominated by an innumerate amount of ‘old man pubs’. While appealing for their traditional vibe, they  fail to attract a regular student or young professional crowd. Dublin’s universally high prices further repels most young people from bars. Drinking in the house is always cheaper. However, a good pub stands as a fun if pricier alternative. Phibsborough’s promise is that its diverse and large demographic means it supports several good, modern and affordable bars. Most of these seem clustered around the Phibsborough Road.

The Back Page commands the largest student following there, especially amongst Trinity students. While first and foremost a sports bar, featuring about a dozen TVs usually showing soccer all around its dim interior, it enjoys a young crowd and chilled, lively vibe. Its selection of high-percentage craft beers at decent prices make it a cost-effective start to a night out. The Back Page also serves some of the best pizza in Dublin, reasonably priced at €9. It also features hammocks in the smoking area.

The seemingly unnamed pub on Mountjoy Street continues in similar vein to The Back Page. Its quiet, relaxed ambience makes it a good spot for a pint on the way into or returning from town. Its local crowd saves it from devolution into another old man pub. Of the more traditional pubs in Phibsborough, McGowans is the stand-out. While still a family-owned pub, it carries some outstanding drinks deals including good cocktails from Thursdays to Sundays. Try the Guinness.

Enya O'Connell-Hussey

Enya O'Connell-Hussey is a Staff Videographer for Trinity News.