Lonely Planet Article

Recently we were delighted to chat to the lovely Annemarie McCarthy in Lonely Planet who was interested to hear about our thoughts on Dublin and Irish Pubs, and chat about DublinByPub in general.

We’re delighted to note that our interaction was nicely summarised and put into article form and is available to view at your convenience from the link below.

Three friends are on a mission to review every pub in Dublin

With more than 700 pubs in Dublin to choose from, visitors – and even locals – are never going to be able to try and test every single one. Now one Instagram account is making it a bit easier for you by setting out to publish an in-depth review of each one.

 

Kehoe’s: South Anne St.

Sitting splendidly on South Anne St. – the vibrant colours of Kehoe’s facade are a welcome and familiar sight to many Dubliners. The pub, which judging by a cursory google, has sat for its fair share of paintings is one which is well regarded amongst the great Dublin Pubs and as such was awarded the accolade of Best Pub in Dublin earlier this year.

We last visited over the summer on a Friday afternoon hoping to beat the afterwork crowd. The first notable feature of the pub was the front doors which open saloon style in either direction; we arrived in to find the pub thronged and not a spare seat in the house. Feeling all John Wayne after our entrance we considered bullying someone out of their seat but thought the better of it opting to prop up a spare ledge instead. We called for two scoops we came to realise that the pub’s proximity to a bookies may have been the reason for it being so busy, so early.

As a hefty portion of the patrons heckled the horses on the television, we looked around to take in the surroundings. This is a pubs that is as famous for its exterior as it is for its interior, generous sized crowds often hoard outside when weather permits, thankfully this day it was raining so we sat on our preferred side of the threshold – the inside.

The pub is of a Victorian persuasion and therefore contains all the usual furnishings of such boozers; A coveted snug sits to the front of the main bar, wooden partitions segment the bar and a well carved structure of woodworkings make up the back of the bar. The lighting is increased beyond the standard of contemporary Victorian houses by the cream coloured ceiling and walls. The embossed wallpaper further fits out the aged feel to the pub, while neon signage takes you from the 1860s to the 1960s.

Aside from the main bar there are plenty of other nooks, crannies and even the odd parlour situated throughout. The pub fits our idea of what constitutes a great Dublin boozer. The pint was great (aside from the usual inflated D2 price) and we noted that they quality team was in looking after the lines when we were in.

As its recent award would suggest, this is a big hitter amongst the cities boozers. We’d tend to agree.

Fallon’s: The Coombe

Sitting at the mouth of the Liberties lies a street which is as intrinsically Dublin as a bowl of coddle on hill sixteen. The Coombe is said to have been a valley which was carved by a tributary which fed the river which gave birth to Dublin: The Poddle. Arguably this valley is still feeding the lifeblood of Dublin by dishing out creamy scoops to welcome folk beyond the boundaries of the Liberties.

In our exploration of the pubs of Dublin we’ve visited many places and the truth being told, sometimes one has to scratch under the surface to seek out the magic of a premises. But that said, sometimes you know you’re on hallowed ground the minute you cross the threshold of a pub. Of these sorts of pubs Fallon’s is the latter.

We’ve been in Fallon’s a few times over the last month and both busy and quiet occasions and we’ve had some ups and some downs.

Visually the pub could not be mistaken for any other type than that of the Irish variety. Eyes that enjoy the sight of a good traditional pub will light up upon entry. The floor is unvarnished, un-sanded and scuffed to perfection. A relatively large snug occupies much of the front of the small pub. The exposed tan brickwork add further to the place’s primitive aesthetic. A large cast iron stove/range sits at the rear of the room, the walls surrounding which bear the scars of harbouring such a device. Varied drinking ephemera alongside historical framings of local interest occupy wall space throughout.

The crowd here tends to consist of a mix of younger locals mixed in with a few elders and a couple of tourists for good measure too. As for the pint. This was in the top three of the year. We wondered if a pipe ran directly from James’ gate such was the calibre of creaminess. And under a fiver too. This pint was an undeniable 10/10.

The pub is definitely a hidden gem when it comes to older untouched places in the city. The only detractors from the experience are an unwaveringly narky Barman and a bit of a stinky jaxx. But these probably wouldn’t discourage us from visiting again.

The Liberty Belle: Francis St.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there sits a large metal bell – the bell is almost a tonne in weight, over a metre wide and 265 years old. Named The Liberty Bell , it is a symbol of American freedom and boasts a commendable 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Reviewers advise of an average waiting time of 20 minutes to gain admittance to see the bell. Catherine H calls it a “Must See” and Bill E asks “Why wouldn’t you?”

Well Bill, aside from the hefty airfare, the main reason I wouldn’t is down to the fact that us Dubliners happen to have our very own Liberty Bell here in the city. And this particular Liberty Bell incurs neither cover charge, nor any twenty minute wait and unlike its Philadelphian counterpart it dishes out creamy pints of stout.

We were last in the Liberty Belle of a weekend evening not so long ago, none of us had ever darkened the door of the pub prior to this and truth be told we had relatively few preconceptions of the pub compared to some others we have made debut visits to prior. First impressions of the pub were quite good – we agreed that it had been aptly named insofar that it was the most attractive looking of the pubs of Francis St.

The exterior with its painted signage and hanging baskets serves as a welcoming sight to a thirsty set of eyes. The interior is rather homely with its carpeted floor, glass panelled doors and curtains. Copper vessels decorate shelf space and the bar is back-lit with effective ambience afforded by stained glass which frames a large mirror bearing the name of the pub and an image of a Japanese geisha girl.

We sat in one of the booths that were partitioned from one another with wooden dowels. We remarked how the partitions offered no visual privacy but did provide a comfortable sense of ownership to any occupying group who chose to sit there. We lowered a couple of very good pints as a few locals engaged us in a bit of chat. The overall vibe was very warm; a healthy mix of new and old liberty locals afforded the place original warmth which we greatly enjoyed basking in.

We wondered why we left it so late to get into this boozer and all agreed we’d certainly be back.

Toner’s: Baggot St:

Toner’s can be described as many things in the landscape of Dublin Pubs but when it comes to us here at DBP we tend to describe Toner’s as the snug lover’s pub. For those unfamiliar with the term snug, allow us to explain.

The snug is a historical feature of an Irish or English pub. It’s essentially a seating area which has been sectioned off from the general space of the rest of a pub. Historically snugs were a means to facilitate women in an age when it was deemed unladylike for a woman to be seen drinking in public. They were also said to provide sanctuary for the likes of policemen, politicians and other such public figures who preferred not to be seen in open public during the course of their drinking. Generally snugs were situated to the front of a pub and allowed access to the bar from within. Relatively few of them remain in the city and they have become installations much beloved by the drinking public.

 

We last visited Toner’s of a Friday afternoon and managed to snag the snug. Leaving the entrance open we gazed at an old Bass advertisement which had been affixed to the door. The ad featured an image of legendary folk group The Dubliners suitably snapped holding obligatory pints of Bass. Gazing further at the image we happened to notice that it was taken at the very snug within which we were sitting.

Thinking of the Dubliners, I realised them to be a perfect way to describe Toner’s. The Dubliners, not being dissimilar to the like of The Beatles, were a group that contained several world class musicians whom could all hold their own amongst one another, musically speaking. Not one could eclipse the other, and Toner’s sitting among greats like O’Donoghue’s and Doheny & Nesbitts certainly holds its own and could never be eclipsed by its neighbouring boozers.

Getting down to brass tacks, the pint was fantastic; priced for town, but creamy as the night is long. We intended to nip in for one and stayed for at least three. The décor is traditional – worn dark wood, burgundy hues, drinking and writer ephemera – an absolute jewel to a pub lover’s eyes. The jaxx is entirely at odds with what one expects from the bar; brand new, spacious and clean as a whistle. We’re not normally in the business of commenting on beer gardens but the massive one out the back of Toner’s is a sight to behold.

Toner’s is the quintessential Dublin pub. It’s George Harrison, it’s Barney McKenna. It’s an absolute must.

The Wiley Fox: Eden Quay

Foxes bear a terrible brunt when you think about it. The poor creatures cannot be spoken about without a mention of the word sly or sneaky or indeed the word wiley. One can only imagine the consternation that typecasting an entire section of the human population like we do with foxes would bring about.

That said, there is no smoke without fire and surely foxes are sly creatures. I like to think that The Wiley Fox was so named due to its proximity to the myriad of bus termini on its doorstep, because what could be sneakier than ducking in for a quick scoop and catching a later bus than intended. Who would dare disbelieve that the bus didn’t come.

 

We recently dropped into The Wiley Fox of a Thursday afternoon when it was ticking over with an afterwork crowd. We’d waited out many’s the bus in the pub in its former guise as The Pint and we were looking forward to seeing how it had settled in following its renovation.

The décor of the pub is largely modern and is product of the design specs predefined in many of the craft beer/cocktail joints which have popped up across the city. Plush armchairs provide seating in the first atrium of the pub upon entrance, more traditional seating takes up the reigns once in the main heart of the pub alongside the bar. A few fox themed bits are displayed throughout and the older features of the pub are nicely taken into the new design.

A Hawaiian themed night was in its early stages when we arrived, it being denoted by the tikki decoration and the staff’s colorful t-shirts and concern for the whereabouts of pineapples. We propped up the bar and called for two scoops. The staff were commendable on their service. The Barman returned the two pints as swiftly as one should to customers who may be shortly making a dash for a bus. His attention to detail was noted when he replaced the pint onto a beermat having noticed the absence of one. The pint itself was good and not too offensively priced either.

All in all we couldn’t fault the Wiley fox to harshly. It’s a fine boozer which has taken newer pub design features and not gone overboard with them. We look forward to missing the bus the next time around.