The Sunset House: Summerhill Parade.

I’m a bit annoyed at The Sunset House! You see, the pub was rebranded as The Brendan Behan after a fatal gangland shooting back in 2016, and this was the name that the pub was trading under when we made our only visit there back in September of last year. Being aware of the name and needing no persuading – yours truly here wrote a piece on the pub which was more of an ode to Brendan Behan than anything else. You can imagine my disappointment when I rocked up to Summerhill Parade to snap the pub last January, only to discover that it had reverted to its former name – The Sunset House. So queue in a re-write and a not-so-swift realisation that the pub’s signage had been obscured by a traffic light in the photo I’d taken, and I’d returned to Summerhill once more for another snap only to find the pub closed. In the intervening times that I’ve passed the boozer I’ve always found it closed * – so this image will have to do for now.

*[I’m not sure if it’s gone the way of Gill’s down the road and decided upon a more skeleton set of opening dates, or if it’s just plain closed-down. D1/D3 folks might advise us of what the craic is in the comments.]


Anyhow, I suppose I’m glad that I managed to snap an open and operating Sunset House during an actual sunset, albeit with obscured signage – we made just the one visit here over the years and happened to do so on what we can only assume to be one of the pub’s busier trading days – All Ireland Final Day. With Dublin Facing off against Mayo in the 2017 decider – Pintman №2 and I, GAA novices at best, found the bluest attire we possessed and took to the boozers of Summerhill hoping to suck up some of the atmosphere. Arriving in during the earlier half of 1PM we found The Sunset House to be as busy as one would expect any purveyor of alcohol in close proximity to a stadium on the day of a final to be.

In the past we’ve spoken about how some boozers sometimes defy expectations set by their exterior, The Sunset House is no such a pub. There was little or nothing to write home about when it came to the appearance of this pub, bright and plain – the colours bring an unwanted sense of sterility to the place. The seating is basic enough and Pintman №2 and I agreed that the only noteworthy feature of the pub was the bar which had been constructed from brick.

The pint was good and in a fine flow with the increased level of custom, mine came to the table in a Smithwicks Glass which prompted a discussion on whether such an offence was excusable given the day that was in it. The price isn’t remembered as one that caused any offence to either of us.

The vibe in the place was surreal enough, we agreed that we’d need to return to get a feel for the place on an ordinary day but for now we embraced the mix of patrons brought in by the impending game. A DJ sat ensconced into a corner of the pub blasting unfazed patrons with that type of paddywhacking continuity-republican music you might hear at the end of the night at some ropey cousin’s wedding. Face-painters did the rounds and coloured in the cheeks of children with their team colours of choice – I was disappointed that Pintman №2 wasn’t further along with the gargle such that he’d be more agreeable to having his mush painted too. As we finished out our gargles we’d clocked a local in a weathered Bowie t-shirt. Having remarked on him being the oldest lounge boy we’d ever seen we pondered as to whether he’d been coerced into the job with the promise of free gargle the night prior.

Even though we wouldn’t see this place threatening to breach the top one hundred cosy boozers in the capital, we’d still hate to think that the sun had set on The Sunset House. Hopefully it’s still on the go or at least will be again soon.

 

TheJournal.ie Culture Magazine.

Last week, we were delighted to chat to the charming Zara Hedderman who very kindly chose to feature us in this week’s Schweppes Culture Magazine on TheJournal.ie The link to the piece is included below. Feel free to give it a look.

‘Drinkable for under a fiver’: Dublin By Pub’s tongue-in-cheek Instagram reviews

The only guide you need to Dublin’s watering holes.

Lloyd’s: Amiens St.

It was few years ago and during the course of a casual conversation with a colleague that I came to realise that Lloyd’s of Amiens St. was a pub I needed to visit as soon as possible. Being on the occasion of having recently started a new job – I found myself talking to a well-established member of staff for such a substantial duration that platitudes and my grossly limited knowledge of football would no longer suffice in their efforts to sustain the conversation – so I changed to the subject to pubs, which is when he said it. With the topic in hand – this colleague came to mention Lloyd’s on Amiens St – he remarked on how the pub was one he was familiar with as it was his grandfather’s local, before suffixing the statement by calmly adding that his grandfather “wrote his will in there”. This is a boozer I need to see, thought I.

 


A bit of a North Inner City institute, Lloyd’s sits on the corner of Amiens St. and Foley St. A medium sized sort of pub – its interior follows an almost hook-like shape with regard to its floor space. Wooden flooring sits underfoot at the front of the pub while carpet takes over at the back section. Seating is comprised almost exclusively of low tables which are complimented by stools and couches – all of which are neatly upholstered. We spotted just the one high table which was located close to the bar. The bar itself is flanked by the expected couple of stools along its length and is a fairly solid looking structure. Built of carefully varnished dark wood, it contains a well branded header which wouldn’t struggle too badly to inform the blindest of patrons that they are in “Lloyd’s of Amien St. Est. 1823” – this statement is made twice in appealing gold embossed letters, each instance of which is separated by a clock which is recessed into the wood. Pictures hung upon the mainly relate to sport and one in particular caught our eye such that I’ve just spent an hour on google trying to identify it. The image (below) is one of a seven-a-side football match in an historical inner city area toward the rear of Gardiner St known as The Gloucester Diamond.

It’s been a good year and a half or more since I last darkened the door of this boozer, but Pintman №2 and №3 happened to drop in a few weeks ago and found themselves surprised to discover that the pub was showing television coverage of a certain wedding that a group of high profile tax-dodgers were hosting in a neighbouring state – y’know the one. Being on the end of the type of look someone might receive from a group of locals in a pub that they aren’t known to frequent – Pintman №3 was quick to disarm the gang of regulars by enquiring as to whether they had bought the wedding in “on the pay-per-view”. After a bit of a chuckle the lads hastened to insist that the viewing choice was solely for the benefit of a woman who happened to be in cleaning the pub – a statement that Pintman №2 classified as a dubious one given the comparative level of interest shown between the gang of lads and the cleaner. As the rest of Pintman №2 and №3’s time elapsed in the pub they were also to meet another character who Pintman №2 describes as bearing a striking resemblance to Bricktop from the movie Snatch. While there, Bricktop spent his time brandishing a cheap sharpening stone he had acquired that day. When asked what he was doing with such an item he responded that it was to sharpen his knives, “incase I need to stab one of you bastards”. The lads legged it shortly afterward.

I’m also assured that the pint in Lloyd’s is still up to the high standard I remember it as previously being at – and still very competitively priced to boot. So if you’re looking for a good pint, or a few characters, or if you’re just a closet West Brit seeking like-minded drinking buddies – Lloyd’s could be the place for you.

J.J. Smyth’s: Aungier St.

There’s an old proverb that I’ve adopted into my lexicon over the years which states that what is seldom is wonderful. Granted that this is an adage that I doubt too many persons involved in the task of tracking asteroids would be partial to, it’s one that I find can ring true from time to time, one such time happened a few weeks ago.

It was late enough of a Saturday evening when a text came through from Pintman Nº2; yours truly was hauled up on the wagon recovering from the physical and financial perils of a recent jaunt around Toronto where he’d tried to do a Behan and “Drink Canada Dry”. The text message, as it would transpire, was to inform me that Pintman Nº3 was home for the grand duration of one and a half days and that a hurriedly planned session had entered the tendering stage. Remembering the aforementioned wonder of infrequency I decided I’d borrow a few quid and postpone my recovery for another weekend.

The next afternoon, the full DublinByPub contingent set out on a crawl around a few beloved boozers in town. After hitting two or three pubs we decided to make our way to The Long Hall – as we did so Pintman Nº2 and I brought Pintman Nº3 up to speed on what he’d been missing – telling him that one headline that he had missed out on was that about The Chancery Inn having been put up for sale for €1.7M. As I asked the two lads whether they reckoned we should pool our resources and put in a bid, Pintman Nº3 was quick to put any potential venture to bed by remarking how the proposition had been made by someone who “had to borrow fifty quid to come out for a few pints today”. This interaction, as luck would have it – is a fine segue into what we have to say about what would befall us as we came to the next junction.

Now, it’s fair to say that we pick up a good amount of information as we journey around the boozers of the city – anecdotes and facts relating to music, history, architecture and politics are all pretty commonplace. But one thing we don’t tend to gather on our wanderings, and this may be solely down to our poor acumen in matters related to finance or commerce, is worthwhile business advice – we simply don’t encounter it. But on this particular afternoon as we strode toward JJ Smyth’s and the crowd of snap-happy passers-by gathered outside, we happened to come up with DublinByPub’s first (potentially) worthy piece of business advice, and it can be surmised in one single word – Murals!

As can be seen in the image attached, a bare gable end is nothing if not a good spot to get creative. JJ’s were obviously using their heads when they allowed the astoundingly talented Subset Dublin to ‘Paint It Black’ (sorry) and throw up a portrait of everyone’s favourite pensioners – The Rolling Stones. There have been two other phenomena over the last year which have had a similar buzz about them whereby they became plastered all over social media – namely the awesome Bordalo II work on the side of The Workshop and Irishtown Brewing’s fantastic mural which covered The Hairy Lemon’s façade for a while last year. So if you’re looking to get your boozer onto the screens of people’s phones and you have a spare bare wall, you know what you need to do.

I suppose we better get on to saying something about JJs at this stage, this boozer wasn’t actually on our itinerary on this particular afternoon, but we can’t resist a cheeky detour now and again, so in we went. The pub, which is well known for the Jazz Club which was housed in its upstairs bar up until recently, wasn’t all that busy when we arrived during the middle of the afternoon. There was one or two locals at the bar, one of whom looked like he was ‘waiting for a friend’ (sorry) – the radio was playing a playlist of Led Zeppelin tunes which we all agreed was in keeping with the new rock-and-roll aesthetic set by the mural. We were greeted gregariously by a woman behind the bar who was as friendly as she was energetic – she promptly sorted us out with a few pints as we settled in before proudly telling us of her love for her job and how she was ‘born to be behind that bar’. Enamoured by her passion, we enquired as to how long she’d been in JJs – ‘about two weeks’ said she

Appearance-wise the pub is pretty traditional, which was a welcome sight to us – scarlet coloured walls and carpet couple well with the couch seating which is a sort of faded shade of pine, this runs the full length of the left side of the bar with several octagonal tables sitting at intervals along the run. Pintman Nº3 was quick to prove that he hadn’t lost his keen eye over on the continent by quickly noticing the old disused call bells which sat recessed into the wall behind the couches – a nice touch, we all agreed. The bar itself sat about two thirds of the way toward the end of the pub and was of a medium size and constructed with dark wood.

The pint came in at €5.20 and received a chorus of approval from all around the table as they finished a first sup in unison. Pintman Nº3 enjoyed his with a toastie which he critiqued by exclaiming “Grogan’s is safe anyway”. When we finished up, the woman behind the bar turned on a bit of a persuasive charm and tempted us to have one for the road, and although she nearly swayed us we ultimately opted to continue on crawling having given her our assurance that we’d be back another day, a statement we definitely meant.

Apologies for the length of this one folks, I had no intention of making this such a lengthy post. Ah well, I suppose ‘You Cant Always Get What You Want’…..  (sorry).