In Ireland, the pub is the pillar of the local community and the same goes for Irish pubs in Sydney. Meet Caroline Mc Kenna, who runs the popular podcast A County Down Under – a community for the Irish, and all expats, to make friends and get tips for a life in Australia. As an expert on community and the Irish culture, we thought there was no better person than Caroline to share the best Irish pubs in Sydney!
Caroline left County Down, Ireland, to travel Australia for a few months. Fast forward seven years, and she’s still here! As a school teacher, she has also set up Sunrise Social Clubs all over the world to support mental health, by bringing strangers together for a chat while watching the sunrise once a week.
Check out her Instagram @acountydownunder for her thoughts on being an expat in Australia, as well as announcements for her Sunrise Social events and podcast which you can find on her website A County Down Under.
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Why Irish pubs in Sydney is an integral part of the community
The pub scene in Sydney is an integral part of living abroad as it’s all about community. When you live so far away from home, it can be really hard to get that feeling of home, to stay connected and not to feel isolated in the huge cities.
Going to the best Irish pubs in Sydney is a big part of staying connected to our culture.
There is a real sense of buzz and atmosphere surrounding big Irish events in the pubs such as Christmas in July, St Patrick’s Day and boxing matches with Irish fighters. It helps close the gap of being away from our families – we really are a big family abroad.
Best Irish Pubs in Sydney
1. Irish abroad love PJ O’Briens, CBD
PJ O’Briens in Sydney CBD probably the most quintessential Irish pub and hot spot for Irish abroad. The queues are usually out the door, especially on a Saturday night. There is always live Irish music and entertainment.
Forget your car as it’s hard to find parking nearby so take a cab when visiting PJ O’Briens. The pub grub is amazing and I recommend ordering the chicken curry parma- so good! With Guinness on tap, good food and huge party scene for the Irish, you will really enjoy your night here.
2. Go to the legendary Tea Gardens in Bondi
Tea Gardens in Bondi Junction isn’t actually an Irish pub, it’s just an Aussie Hotel. But it is THE Irish pub in Sydney and has been for decades.
Friday night is the busiest night at the Tea Gardens, with everyone coming in after work to blow off steam for the weekend. DJ Podgee is usually on the decks downstairs and the dance floor is pumping.
Sunday night is also a really popular night with a huge Trad session. The bar closes at 12 on Sunday night so the rule is, party til then, then head home for work on Monday. It never usually ends like that (Monday sick days are key!).
Also known as ‘The Bull’ back in the days, The Grand Hotel is a much more intimate setting and is also located in Bondi Junction. This place is popular for live music, comfy chairs, great hearty meals and perfectly poured pints of Guinness. This is especially popular for major sporting events like UFC Sundays and plenty of men love to go here ladies!
4. The Mercantile Hotel for St Patricks Day
The Mercantile Hotel Irish pub in The Rocks is the place to go for bank holiday weekends and St Patrick’s Day. There will always be a guaranteed crowd every weekend here and it gets a lot of tourists too due to its location.
But the big events are the best here because they usually close off the streets for festivals like their infamous St Patrick’s day festival playing Irish classics throughout the. The pub grub is also amazing making it easily one of the best Irish pubs in Sydney.
5. Perfect date night at The Doss House
The Doss House is a hidden gem located underground in the Rocks. Famous for their whiskey, the Doss House has had many visitors including Irish singer Dermot Kennedy. I really love the trad session on a Sunday here, it is so intimate with the dark candle light setting. This is a perfect Sydney date venue too!
6. Backpacker favourite at Scruffy Murphys
Anyone who has been a backpacker (regardless of being Irish) will have been to Scruffy Murphys which is at the centre of the main backpacker hostels in Sydney.
If you want a night out in the city and a guaranteed busy dance floor, Scruffy Murphy’s Saturday night is always hopping with an eclectic crowd. Playing all the best tunes and a few belters that will take you back to your teenage years.
Located on Coogee Bay road, Temple Bay honestly does THE best Irish Roast dinner in Sydney. It’s a great place to come for a bite to eat with friends or a few pints and watch the world go by. You have to get your booking for a roast dinner on the Sunday in quick- they are known to sell out.
The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills will honestly transport you back in time to your local GAA club in Ireland. The decor, the jerseys, the staff and trad music all make you feel like your are back home. The Trad nights are really popular making it a classic Irish pub you need to visit. Also located in here is the Irish Support Agency to help in times of difficulties.
9. Molly Malone’s Irish Tavern for live music
Located in Surry Hills, Molly Malone’s Irish Tavern is a nice Irish pub to go for a few drinks with a group of friends and live music. It’s a little slice of Ireland packed into a Sydney Irish pub and is just around the corner from Strawberry Hills Hotel.
10. Strawberry Hills Hotel
While the Strawberry Hills Hotel in Surry Hills might not technically be an Irish pub, it is extremely popular with the Irish on a Friday and Saturday, for the night out after the night out making it one of the best Irish pubs in Sydney (and Irish nights out).
If you end up here, you usually have no chance of making it home before 4am. Huge crowds of Irish flock here every weekend for good times. The queues are so big and you have no guarantee of getting in, but people can overspill into Molly Malone’s if you don’t make it in.
More to read from Londoner In Sydney
A big thank you to Caroline for sharing her favourite Irish pubs in Sydney! Want to see more places to visit in Sydney? Get started with these articles.