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There are close to 1,000 pubs open today in Dublin city and county. Of these, around 15 are part of an exclusive club. Known as Early Houses, these are public houses that were granted and still avail of a special licence (dating back to 1927) which allows them to open from Monday to Saturday at 7am. Regular pubs can start serving from 10.30am.
We’ve previously looked at the all-hours drinking culture of Bona-Fides, Kips and Early Houses in this article.
Originally these places catered for dock workers, market traders, fishermen, night workers and those attending early-morning fairs. Today the clientele is a little more varied and depending on where you go, you are likely to rub shoulders with wired shift-workers (postmen, nurses etc.), thirsty early risers, tourists who have landed into Dublin early and all-night revellers who have no intention of going to bed yet.
Brand New Retro recently scanned up a hilarious 2003 article on Early Houses from the legendary and must missed Slate magazine.
Since 1962, no new pubs have been added to the list and they are considered a dying breed. In 2008, the government put forward legislation to revoke Early House licences but they eventually decided to leave them as they are. For the time being anyway.
The 12 Early Houses left in the city centre are clustered on the Northside around Capel Street close to the old Markets and on the Southside around the Quays and Pearse Street area which would have the ports of call for dockers and sailors. See map below.
The Fisherman’s Bar, attached to The Waterside pub, in the Northside coastal village of Howth is the only early house in the Dublin suburbs as far as we know. There were early houses in Dun Laoghaire and in Bray Dart Station but they’ve since closed their doors.
Slattery’s on Capel Street is the only one that offers food and is unquestionably the place to go if you want a Full Irish breakfast and a pint at 7am.
The Dark Horse (which hosts a monthly ‘Breakfast Club’ for early morning ravers), The Chancery and The Capel are the most popular spots for the mad-out-of-it crew.
M. Hughes, due to its location, probably attracts more members of the legal profession than the other pubs.
Similarly the Galway Hooker in Heuston Station would be the natural spot for a thirsty traveller before he jumps on an early-morning train.
The rest of the pubs would normally be full of locals and regulars so a better place if you are looking for a quiet early morning pint but they probably won’t be too hospitable to Ebenezer Goode and a large group of his mates.
We’ve put together this handy map for locals and tourists who might find themselves looking for an early morning tipple :