Tuesday, 19 November 2013

My obsession with Ireland and Toronto’s Irish Bars

About two years ago I made the exciting decision to move to Ireland. That night, a couple of pints of Guinness and a bit of Jameson Whiskey later I had a one-way ticket purchased and just a couple months later, off I went. With no plan set and nowhere to stay, seven hours later I landed in Dublin. Excited and hungry I decided to take a taxi to Dublin city centre and find an Irish pub for some Guinness stew with a Guinness on the side. I found myself at a pub called the The Bleeding Horse and pondered what I was going to do for the next year of my life in Dublin. 
As the year went by I worked in some really cool bars, but drank at even better ones and I fell in love with the pub culture. You would see 50-year-old women drinking glasses of Guinness and dancing with the 20 something’s. Everyone was there for ‘a laugh’ and some ‘craic’ (not like Rob Ford). The Irish music was incredible, the food even better, the people very laid back and ‘the craic was mighty,’ it was the best year of my life. 
(A couple of my buddies having a good ol’ time in Peadar Kearneys my favourite pub in Ireland)
Becoming even more Irish obsessed than I already was, which is a bit strange because I'm Ukrainian; I made it my mission to find the Irishest (not a word I know) Irish pubs in Toronto. With exams coming up and all the stress they bring about, these are my three favourite Irish pubs in Toronto where you’ll find me winding down at after my exams are all set and done.
  1. McVeigh's

This is by far my favourite Irish bar in Toronto. You walk in and it doesn’t look like much, a dump really, but the Guinness is almost as good as it is in Ireland. With two floors (the top only really open for Arthur’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day) it's filled with little tables and one bar on the main floor. Not Quite the most extensive menu but food is still really good. 
My two favourite things about this little gem are the live Irish music played on the weekends and that it is always filled with Irish people. Another fun fact the movie The Boondock Saints and its sequel was partly filmed in McVeigh’s.
(Scene from Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day filmed inside McVeighs)
2. P.J. O’Brien 

Looking like a tiny snug in the heart of Downtown, this pub holds a big space and an even bigger and exciting atmosphere. I discovered this place when I worked around the corner and it is definitely of my favourite places for an after work pint. A theme that you’ll find with all the Irish pubs I love is how authentic they are. P.J.'s definitely being authentic, and again the Guinness is good too! Though I’d be more likely to come to P.J.’s for dinner and a nice quiet pint, there are nights it can get kind of rowdy.

(Me at P.J.’s, I love the celtic mirror design in the background)
3.     The Galway Arms
I personally think this place has the best pint of Guinness in the Etobicoke area. Since coming back to school and spending a lot more time in the area I grew up in, I love that I have found a little piece of Ireland just here. The menu has tons of comforting Irish foods, like the steak and mushroom pie (drool) and is a great place to just chill out. You’ll hear the loud Irish accents as soon as you walk in the door.

So if you take my advice and check out any of my favourite pubs just make sure to play safe and smart or you might end up like me with one of these: 
(A tattoo I got in while in Ireland after visiting my favourite bar)
Anyway, what are some of your favourite Irish pubs to wind down in Toronto? And if you don’t have any, how will you unwind after exam time?
Anna Vasina

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