Ireland’s decision to allow same-sex marriage by popular referendum is a wider message about the acceptance of the gay community within its walls.
For decades, it was viewed as a no-go area for gay tourists. But rapidly changing views meant that the convivial country became a European hotspot – and now with this societal thumbs up, its unique gay scene is there to enjoy as much as its other offerings.
While most hotpsots are confined to the cities, there is still plenty of options when it comes to choice of venue – here are six of the best.
PantiBar, Dublin – set off the tourist trail along Capel Street, it was the boozing hub of the Yes campaign thanks to its owner: activist and famed drag queen Panti Bliss. Leave your inhibitions at the door because the weekend shows can get quite raucous. But would we have it any other way?
The Front Lounge, Dublin – just south of the river lies The Front Lounge, always a good spot for late-night drinking. Always hosting a mixed crowd, it’s one of the less rowdy bars, especially in the early part of the night.
The George, Dublin – though the neighbouring Dragon closed its doors early in 2015, The George still flies the rainbow flag on South George’s Street. More of a club than a bar, its high visibility means it’s the first go-to place once you touch-down in Dublin.
Chambers, Cork – more than 40 per cent of Dublin’s population is under 30, meaning it has the most vibrant bar scene of the country. But the People’s Republic of Cork represents too. Chambers – aka the Ruby Lounge – is a recent addition but the main bar/nightclub in the south.
The Central, Strabane – it takes real chutzpah for a gay bar to open in a border town known for being the most bombed town in Europe. But The Central in Strabane has not only provided a much needed focal point for its gay community, but also help shift attitudes in Co Tyrone. It’s for the convival atmosphere that people go there, mind.
Kremlin, Belfast – oh, the irony in its name. This megabar is Belfast’s biggest gay club, and caters to all tastes, from vodka-drinking all-night clubbers to those out for a cocktail and a chat. There are plenty more options if the Kremlin isn’t your bag, for example the more intimate Union Street is just around the corner.