Is This Dublin’s New Era of Lesbian Bars?


Posted 3 weeks ago in Food & Drink Features

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Derry Girls had it right. These days “You can’t move for lesbians. It’s wall-to-wall lesbians out there!”. Between Chappell Roan, Rene Rapp and our own Pillow Queens recent mainstream success, lesbianism is really having a moment. It’s a far cry from just two years ago when there were weekly think piece about the death of lesbianism. But where are the lesbian bars?

Jules Mahon, a prominent voice in Dublin’s LGBTQ+ scene, shares my thoughts on this. When I sat down with her to talk about the mystery of the modern lesbian bar she hit the nail on the head straight out the gate saying, “There is definitely a lack of dedicated spaces for women in the drinks arena.”

Let’s face it, bars and even queer bars in Dublin often cater to the male experience. “Even Panti Bar is very male-centric,” Jules points out. This isn’t a knock on these spaces, but it highlights a glaring gap. Where are the bars where women and non-binary folks can truly feel at home?

Street 66 is a shining example, but it has been under attack recently from neighbours who despite moving in on top of the space knowing it’s a bar proceeded to take them to court over ‘noise complaints’. This was met with frustration from Dublin’s queer scene. Street 66 is more than a bar; it’s a sanctuary. “When people are first exploring their sexuality, Street 66 is the place to go, especially if you’re female,” Jules emphasizes. Beyond the drinks, it hosts markets, poetry readings, and a variety of events that build community and connection in a way that’s more profound than just a boozy night out.

That said, it’s not immune from the plight of pubs everywhere. Jules explains the grim reality: “pubs in general are struggling, the numbers are declining all the time.” Beyond that it’s also tough to get new licenses.

Bars have been traditionally passed from generation to generation in a family. Unfortunately this is much less likely in queer communities and getting a new licence is a harrowing journey. It’s likely harder to get a loan for a queer space because a number cruncher can say the business model is not sustainable because the queer community is not large enough to sustain a venture. Couple that with all the press about queer spaces closing and it can make the prospect of opening one much less appealing. And that’s before you consider homophobia.

Despite these challenges, there’s a spark of hope. Jules mentions spots like Hynes Bar and Vintage Inn, both run by queer female couples, as trailblazers. These venues are proof that safe, inclusive spaces are not just possible—they’re the future. Driven by women who know the gap they want to fill, these women-centred not exclusively queer bars offer more than just a place to drink. They feature chic decor, inclusive programming, and serve as vital social hubs. They’re bastions of community and activism.

Jules envisions a future where safe spaces are the norm. “That’s definitely the way it’s gonna go,” she says. Younger generations view bars differently, favouring inclusivity and community over the old-school, party-hard approach. Stoneybatter exemplifies what a community can achieve with its local bars and businesses.

I’d like to propose a radical solution: big corporations stepping up. Companies like IDL and Diageo could create funds and mentorship programs as part of their diversity initiatives, helping young, queer entrepreneurs secure the resources they need to launch new bars. These efforts would ensure that support for queer spaces extends beyond Pride Month.

In Dublin, the future of lesbian bars could be bright, provided we all push for it. We have yet to see a Gen Z-er open a bar. But when we do we can be sure the younger outlook on bars is different and it will change the way bars are, especially queer oriented ones. Maybe if the lesbian pop summer we’re living through is a harbinger of anything it’s the dawning of the lesbian bar!

Words: Shamin De Brún

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