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© The Chicago Bar Project   Written by Sean Parnell

Drawbridge Tavern & Knights Bar
Castle Avenue
Clontarf
Dublin 3
+353 (1) 833-2321

For visitors and locals alike, the Clontarf Castle Hotel can be the highlight of any trip to Ireland or any private event. Located near the site where Brian Boru became the one and only High King of Ireland after defeating the Vikings and uniting the country on Good Friday of 1014, the Clontarf Castle Hotel is nothing short of magnificent. This is a place where the Irish show off their sophistication and good taste. For those who enjoy a good pint, the Knights Bar and Drawbridge Tavern offer a unique setting to enjoy a Guinness, have a bit of a chat and reflect upon Ireland's glory days past and present.

As an anchor to Dublin's "inner ring" – a series of castles and fortresses that guarded the capital – the Clontarf Castle Hotel is located just minutes away from Dublin's city centre, Dublin Ferryport and the Dublin International Airport in the picturesque suburb of Clontarf. For millennia, Clontarf was the point at which marauding armies docked their ships and prepared to invade the Emerald Isle. The original castle itself was built in 1172 but was demolished when the foundation sank. In 1837, the castle was rebuilt and, after a stint as one of Dublin's premier cabaret venues, the Clontarf Castle Hotel was opened after a £13M renovation in 1998 as a four-star hotel offering 111 rooms that satisfy the most discriminating of tastes. As you drive up the narrow lane and park in the fair-sized parking lot, Clontarf Castle looms impressively before you. Green ivy climbs along its gray stone façade and floodlights elicit its grandeur at night. Visitors and pub patrons alike enter the castle through a wooden entryway at the base of the castle's main tower. As you walk inside, stone tile, elegant tapestries, medieval banners, and comfortable armchairs stand before the wooden check-in counter amidst a golden glow within the tower.

Around the corner and to the left of the lobby is the Drawbridge Tavern, where the Gate Lodge used to stand housing the gatekeeper. Just step through the brick-lined, mini-portcullis and you'll find a rustic seating area where King Arthur himself could kick up his boots in casual comfort. Here in the Drawbridge, pub grub is available all day, highlighted by a buffet lunch and seafood dinners, and traditional sessions of Irish music can often be heard in the evenings. Through the Drawbridge Tavern is the Knights Bar, consisting of two rooms ornately decorated in classic Tudor style with high ceilings, wooden flooring, and armchairs gathered around small wooden tables with rugs beneath them. A wooden bar wraps around both rooms in the Knights bar, with old-fashioned, Q-Tip-like lights mounted upon it and comfortable, high-backed wooden barstools around it. Additional seating can be had at any one of the cocktail tables that stand before gothic windows overlooking the castle grounds and in front of one of the stone fireplaces. Food is served daily until 5:00 p.m. Normally, the Knights Bar is great for a quiet pint amongst fellow travelers but when corporate events are hosted, the place is crawling with lecherous, cigar-smoking suits looking to hit on whatever moves. Be forewarned.

While Ireland only enjoyed royalty through Brian Boru from the time from the Vikings' defeat until his death shortly thereafter, today's Irish along with visitors still can do so at the Clontarf Castle Hotel. Have a few pints at the Knights Bar or in the Drawbridge Tavern and retire to a room fit for a king. For more information, check out the Clontarf Castle Hotel website. God save the King!

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