Not only does Ireland bare claim to producing the finest black stuff known to mankind and distilling some of the world's most popular whiskeys but now the Emerald Isle is also home to the “Best Bar in the World”, according to Lonely Planet.
Last month, The Harbour Bar in Bray was named the worlds top pub in the “Off the Beaten Track” category by the Lonely Planet guide. Run by the same family for three generations, IrishCentral.com caught up with Mark O'Toole to discover the secret to the bars success.
Mark, who is based in New York, told us that the O'Toole family have got a great reaction since the news was announced: “It's been the talk of Bray and everyone has commented on it,” he said.
The family bar is owned by Mark's mother. Maureen, and his Uncle, Paul. His brother, Colin, manages the seafront venue.
Mark is very passionate about the family business and he tells us there are a number of reasons why the bar scooped the top prize: “I think the bar offers an unique ambiance and atmosphere as well as a good combination of people and staff.”
“The bar has three distinct parts; the old main bar which has a traditional look, the back lounge and the conservatory area. There is also a beer garden located outside for smokers.”
Mark describes the aesthetics of the bar as old world, with nautical references and antiques.
“We have a large Moose head which was donated by the Irish actor, Peter O'Toole, we had to knock through a window to get it into the bar!” he recalls.
The back lounge is a premier location for indie bands south of Dublin. Despite having played in many premiere venues with his band Audio Fiction, Mark maintains nothing compares to the family bar.
"I maybe biased, but while I grew up working behind the bar, I still think the best gig Audio Fiction ever played was in the Habour Bar in Ireland. It just has an amazing vibe and crowd," he told IrishCentral.
Catering for every taste, the old bar has regular traditional music sessions also.
The Wicklow man described the clientele as an eclectic mix, you can bump into anyone, including U2 frontman, Bono. In his era, James Joyce was also a fan of this watering hole.
Located close to Ardmore Film Studios, many celebrities pop in regularly. Also popular for film shoots, most recently Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto” filmed major scenes in the bar.
Check out the Harbour Bar’s Facebook page here www.facebook.com/harbourbarbray