O Reilly’s: Tara St. Station.

O Reilly’s is a controversial one here at DBP. I dare say that there are little or no other pubs in the city that polarise the opinions of myself and Pintman № 2 quite like O Reilly’s does.

Now in the red corner you have me – someone who considers themselves as something of a rocker. Admittedly I’m not in so deep that that you’ll find me wearing leather in the summer, or at all really. And to be entirely truthful Fibber Magee’s is on the heavier side of the subculture I subscribe to. A pub such as O Reilly’s, was to ingratiate itself to me by filling a void left in the wake of the dearly departed Eamon Doran’s in a timely manner. The offer of decent tunes that didn’t stay too heavy, too long coupled with one of the cheapest pints in town was a combination that warranted no critique on my part.

In the blue corner though you have Pintman № 2, more of a Mod than a rocker, and a man who reckons that the shot spinning wheel in O Reilly’s allows him to liken it to type of pub you’d expect to find an electrical rodeo bull in. His assessment of the pub is then garnished with his opinion that the seating is too “dinner-tabley”.

(Pintman № 3 being his usual diplomatic self, plays the referee in this bout, incase you were wondering).

The pub itself, lies under Tara St railway station and is divided into three main atriums. The fit out is gothic-cum-ecclesiastical, defining features include metal chandeliers, church pews and a large fireplace. The lighting is mostly dim in keeping with the rock bar aesthetic. The pint has tended to be good but in the interest of full disclosure it is worth mentioning that our last number of visits here have been at an ungodly hour, following an ungodly feed of pints.

O Reilly’s is fine lesson in hypocrisy and subjectivity- in some parallel universe I’d probably detest it. But it happened to hit all the right notes at the right time for me, so I don’t. Just don’t tell Pintman № 2.

T.P. Smith’s: Jervis St.

In the case of pubs, placement can be everything. A pub can be well placed for a number of reasons, its centrality in a city, its proximity to a residence or its proximity to a focal point like a stadium or shopping centre. T.P. Smith’s which is both relatively central and very close to the Jervis centre could be said to be quite well placed.

This pub is one which has generally fallen under our radar in years gone by so we recently decided that it was our duty to suss it out once and for all. We wandered in of a weekend afternoon and found the place to be busy with the type of crowd one expects in a pub close to a shopping centre and citywide transit links.

We found a few seats at the bar and took up position calling for two pints. Taking in the aesthetic we agreed that the fit-out was relatively unique and rather untraditional. Copper fixtures and fittings set the tone of the pub with a monstrous copper clad spiral staircase demanding the attention of all patrons, a large tile mosaic spans the far wall of the pub while the immaculate granite bar-top spans the considerable length of the bar. Surrendered souvenir dollar bills and other mixed currency fills the wall space behind the bar.

As our two pints came to be delivered, we had just about settled on the idea that we liked the bar. The vibe was nice, the lighting good and the pint looked ok. But then disaster struck and we were gone within twenty minutes. Was it the pint? I hear you ask. Well no, not the quality of the pint which was above average if we’re honest. It was the price. Five euro and forty cents. For a pint of Guinness. We won’t bother to repeat our manifesto on the price of a pint here because you as our readers will no doubt, be familiar with our views there but suffice it to say that we won’t be returning to T.P. Smiths, unless we win a decent sum of cash.

Ruin Bar: Tara St

Does anybody out there happen to remember MacTurcail’s? It was a large pub on the corner of Townsend and Tara St and in the interest of full disclosure we should declare our prior bias and state for the record that we loved the MacTurcail’s. It was perfect – a nice traditional style bar, an expansive lounge and dirt cheap pints. The stuff of dreams.

But morning dawns on all dreams and this one was no different, the pub was fated to disappear in a haze of mystery and tax avoidance rumours a few years back.

Following a lengthy spell of dereliction, a glimmer of hope shone when renovation work finally commenced on the pub, we started to get excited – we shouldn’t have. The pub we were so very fond of was to be gutted. All distinguishing features (except the ceiling) were to be removed and a cooler, hipper refit to be put in place.

We made our maiden voyage to the re-opened pub of a Saturday evening over the summer. The vast open plan expanse was peppered with small groups making the pub a very quiet affair. We found the interior to overload the sense of sight somewhat.

We agreed that this was most the hipster establishment any of us had ever set foot in. This due in no small part due to the repurposed-bicycle lamp fittings, the large mural of a gorilla donning a zebra coloured pelt (?), alongside all of the gratuitous indoor street art and tags sprayed upon all available walls. As we called for a few pints we fondly remembered the days when street art was reserved exclusively for the streets.

The barman was a friendly and agreeable sort, and the pint he poured was ok, certainly drinkable but there are far superior pints at cheaper prices within the immediate locality. The section of craft brews was quite notable though but we weren’t of that persuasion at the time. Having cursed the individual that ruined our beloved MacTurcail’s and sadistically and aptly titled the new premises ‘Ruin Bar’ we opted not to have a second pint and headed for pastures anew.

Ruin Bar is a hipster’s paradise, which is not exactly our scene. If you’re into that craic you’ll love it. We’re just glad it’s still a pub and not another poxy starbucks.

Grogan’s: South William St.

In Dublin, certain pubs are renowned for certain things – you may find that one pub is the go-to place for those seeking a fireplace, another may be the first called upon to watch an important game whereas others are renowned for catching a few tunes. What is unusual, however, is for one pub to hold the title of go-to pub for more than one thing. As it turns out – unusual is a fairly good description of Grogan’s.
If you were to ask a certain subsection of the Dublin drinking population to recommend the go-to television-less pub or the go-to toasty pub this author would wager that Grogan’s would make up the majority of responses that you would receive.

We’re not usually in the habit of commenting on food, but we could hardly mention Grogan’s and not mention the toasty. A toasty, for those unfamiliar is simply a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, these sandwiches have become something of a delicacy amongst pub-goers being the only hot food on offer in many establishments and thusly the only offer of sustenance on a lengthy session.

While there may be better toasties available in the city, the toasty experience in Grogan’s is certainly the best. The simple act of providing the customer with a jar of old English mustard to do with as they please is symbolic. It’s a symbol of trust, there’s no bigger slap in the face, no bigger insult than being furnished with a solitary sachet of cheap condiment. The act simply screams of distrust. In Grogan’s they tell you that they trust you, they know you might be tempted to use too much mustard, or to take the jar home, but it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

Aesthetically, this is an ordinary pub made extraordinary. The ordinary being patterned carpet, chestnut panelling, mundane white tiled ceiling, and the extraordinary being provided by the ever-changing multitude of artworks scattered across the walls and the odd bit of stained glass contrasting the dull light attempted by the wooden panelling.

The pint warranted no complaints. Well poured and high quality – the price differed by 20 cent between two barmen for some reason but nonetheless the D2 tax was certainly in effect.

Overall Grogan’s is a beacon for the future of Dublin Pubs, the reverence afforded to it by a younger crowd demonstrates that the popularity of the traditional Dublin Pub experience still stands strong within the city. .