The Harbour Bar was established in 1872 and was bought by James O’Toole in 1932. It changed hands 81 years later when the Duggan family bought the famous bar in 2013.The Harbour Bar was once both a bar and undertakers, and rumour has it that it is immortalised somewhere in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Joyce is one of many celebrated people who patronised the bar over its long history. Peter O’Toole, when filming nearby in Ardmore Studios, would often drink in The Harbour Bar and donated the famous moose head (a prop from Woody Allen’s What’s New, Pussycat?) as a gesture of gratitude to the owners for making sure he was returned in one piece to his hotel each night. Other icons that have enjoyed a drink at The Harbour Bar include Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, Bono, and Brendan Behan.
The Lounge is a comfortable spot in which to enjoy exciting music acts from Thursday – Sunday (Live Lounge). The stage has been recently renovated and the standard of equipment is top-notch. Music has always been important in The Harbour Bar and over the last year in particular it has firmly marked its place with the best of Ireland's pub venues, with ongoing live music all year round, quickly becoming a major venue in the Bray Jazz Festival circuit and having hosted a number of their own mini music festivals, as well as curating their own successful stage at Groove Festival in Kilruddery Estate.
The lovely Snug is perfect for a quiet pint and a chat. The Bar is full of character; it plays host to traditional Irish music sessions from Wed – Sat. The cosy Backroom is the ideal place for a toastie by the fire and the Upstairs is where to catch an intimate gig. The Harbour Bar has a covered and heated beer garden for those who want to take in the sea air with their pint.
The bar was voted “The Best Bar in the World” by Lonely Planet in 2010 and is recognised as a pub with an authentic and fun atmosphere and a passion for good music.