McGrattan’s: Fitzwilliam Lane

Sometimes when a bit of research is warranted for pubs that we post we can end up finding ourselves in some strange corners of the internet, take this moment as an example – I’m currently perusing The Intoxicating Liquor act of 1927 in order to identify the section of the act relating to The Holy Hour. All so I can corroborate a Brendan Behan quote in which he states that the politician who introduced The Holy Hour to the Dáil was shot dead an hour afterward. As I type now I’ve already realised that the link I was trying to establish between McGrattans’ proximity to the Dáil and a quote from a renowned drinker about politicians isn’t really there, or extremely tenuous at best.

Anyways, for those wondering, Kevin O Higgins – the politician responsible for the since repealed weekly mid-day ban on the sale of alcohol was indeed shot dead – but the timing and motives suggested by Behan’s quote remain unproven.

McGrattan’s is one of those boozers that you just can’t fault the placement of – tucked away and almost remote feeling, it lies down a laneway that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump from the various houses of government located upon Merrion St. Upper. The façade of the pub purports it to have been established in 1798, a claim that is reasonably denied in an article by the fantastic blog: Come Here To Me, which describes the premises as having been converted from a sheet metal workshop to a graduate club for the National University of Ireland in 1964 where after it traded as some form of bar up until it’s incarnation as McGrattan’s in 1989.

The interior of the pub is unusual enough – two dissimilar atria are connected by a corridor furnished with pool tables which acts as a buffer between the two. The front atrium is more bar than lounge and would be of the usual appearance seen around the city if not for its wallpaper – patterned stuff reminiscent of that seen in a dodgy strip club you might get bundled into on a budget stag party you might have attended. The seating in the front is entirely comprised of high stools and there’s an open fire too. The back bar, on the other hand, is a more casual affair. Dimly lit, it affords a cosier experience to its occupants with its lower seating and stained glass windows.

Over the years the better nights we’ve had here were after a decent rake of pints, Pintman №4 and I in our younger and more naïve years were both caught short one night when the women we were trying to covertly discuss under the cover of our poorly constructed utterances in Irish turned out to be Irish teachers themselves. Strangely the bad experiences we’ve had were while relatively sober – late last year we happened to incur the wrath of a barman who’s desire for us to not drink in the same vicinity as a retired RTE newsreader manifested itself in insults and a noisy accusation of non-payment of a bill that was long settled.

We should close out this post by reminding you – the reader, that our idea here on Dublin By Pub is not to review pubs, our aim is to provide a snapshot in time of Dublin Pubs in 2017 from our perspective, and our perspective here is that we’re probably going to give McGrattan’s a miss for a while after a not-so-nice encounter with a bollocks of a barman. Maybe we should have looked at precedence and kept up our policy of only visiting after a minimum of seven pints, and maybe someday we’ll return, perhaps for the big 250th bash in 2048.

The International Bar: Wicklow St.

It was around 3pm on Christmas Eve that Pintman №2 and I finally called a ceasefire on the shopping. Being weighed down with bags and weary from the experience of toyshops on the 24th of December we agreed that any gifts which were unbought at this stage were fated to remain so until after the big day. It was also, coincidentally enough, at this particular point of the day that we decided it was time to go to the pub – a decision that had more than on occasion given way to discourse and debate amongst ourselves on par to that heard in the houses of The Oireachteas… except with more profanities. But given the day that was in it, and the energy levels being as they were, I was in no fit state to offer any alternatives when Pintman №2 suggested we visit The International Bar on Wicklow St. So with bags in tow – we headed for some well-deserved Cosy Christmas Pints.

The International is a pub that for reasons unbeknownst to us hasn’t really featured an awful lot in our collective drinking careers. The pub itself is housed in a striking terracotta structure and sits on the corner of streets: Wicklow & St. Andrew. In the bit of research we undertook on the building we ironically found it to be described as large and sober in a book detailing Dublin architecture, we also stumbled upon the fact that it was designed by the same architect responsible for Kavanagh’s of Aughrim St – One George L. O’Connor.

 

By some minor Christmas miracle we managed to nab one of the few seats when we arrived into the pub – which is smaller than the size conjured up from its exterior. As we wedged in between two separate sets of tourist we arranged our multitude of bags into any agreeable space and called for a few pints. These pints, which were sank without complaint, were all the sweeter given the fact that the pub, despite being situated within the epicentre for overpriced porter, charged an even fiver for a pint, an act we couldn’t but commend them on. We also tucked into a toasty which gave change back from a fiver – which we all agreed was good going.

The pub itself is a fine sight – Victorian in its décor it boasts a long granite bar which runs the length of the room and sits beneath a high ceiling. The floor is finished in a mosaic tiling and the back of the bar is fully fitted with bespoke wordworkings which include carvings of Irish river gods, according to the pub’s website.

 

We couldn’t really fault this boozer too much, we should also note that it’s a bit of an institution for comedy which is hosted in a bar on another of the premise’s floors. We certainly enjoyed cosying in on a Christmas Eve and will certainly return at a less festive time during the year.