The Brazen Head is a pub that seems to be on the itinerary of most tourists that visit Dublin. After the Guinness Hop Store and The Book of Kells in Trinity College, it's probably one of the most requested locations for tourists getting into my cab.
The reason? Well, good marketing has a lot to do with it. Have a look at their very professionally designed website at http://www.brazenhead.com. But if it wasn't a cracking wee pub then it wouldn't get the best advertising of all which is, of course, word of mouth.
The Brazen Head's main claim to fame is that it's supposedly Dublin's oldest pub. Certainly it can trace its roots right back to 1198, when it's mentioned in despatches as a stop for coaches. This is likely what attracts the tourists the most. After all, who wouldn't want to say they'd visited the oldest pub in a city renowned the world over for both the quantity and quality of its hostelries?
In reality, the pub is fairly small, and because of the lack of space the tables in the bar area are squashed together somewhat. Combine this with an assorted clientele of locals, business people and a constant stream of tourists and you have one very packed establishment. It's also very popular with the many hen and stag parties that come to Dublin, so if loud and boisterous isn't your scene it might be best to give it a miss after about 7PM.
If you can't do without your smoke then they have an excellent wee enclosed beer garden (with outdoor heaters) where you can sit and have your drink or a bite to eat and enjoy your smoke without fear of prosecution. (We were the first European country to introduce a smoking ban in the workplace back in 2004) This is especially pleasant during the summer months.
The beer is noted for being very good (can't personally comment as I don't drink alcohol) with a good selection of various less well known Irish beers like Kilkenny and Murphy's Stout as well as the almost obligatory Guinness.
What I can comment on is their excellent bar grub, as I've popped in here many a time for a spot of lunch. In fact, it's not actually like bar grub at all, but more like home cooking. Fish and chips, bangers and mash, chicken and chips, or the more traditional Irish stew or bacon and cabbage. Prices are a little above average, but you get what you pay for, and quality costs. The portions are absolutely enormous, and will fill even the emptiest of bellies! They have an evening menu available as well if you fancy going here for dinner in the evening.
The pub is also a noted music venue, with many impromptu sessions as well as more established acts appearing here nearly every night of the week. The Sunday lunchtime sessions in particular are extremely popular, so if you want a good spot then get there just after opening time.
The pub is close to the city centre in Lower Bridge Street. From O'Connell Bridge simply walk up the south quays of the River Liffey for about three quarters of a mile. Once you pass the law courts on the other side of the river, Lower Bridge Street is the next on the left, and the Brazen Head is right in front of you.
Not one to miss if you intend visiting Dublin.
© KenJ March 2008