Lowry’s: Summerhill Parade.

Sitting in close proximity to one of our boundary lines – The Royal Canal, Lowry’s is a pub firmly in the centre of the inner city Dublin. Given the pub’s proximity to Croke Park it may be one that thirsty GAA fans will recognise easily – older regulars will remember it by its former name – Belton’s, it having been part of a chain of pubs attributed to former Lord Mayor of Dublin: Paddy Belton.

 

 

We haven’t really a whole lot to say about Lowry’s really. Pintman Nº2 and I visited last year on the occasion of a match day and found little incentive to hang around for too long. A sparsely decorated pub, we found the overall look to be a clinical one aided in no part from the light colour scheme and the textured, shiny wallpaper which all served to alienate the overall aesthetic from that expected of your run-of-the-mill Dublin boozer. TVs were ubiquitous around the space allowing ticketless fans to catch any of the action going on down the road that they would be otherwise be missing.

Our misgivings about the fit-out aside, there’s wasn’t too bad of a buzz around the place in the preceding hours to the impending fixture in Croke Park. The staff were all more than capable when it came to dispensing pints to the thirsty hoards and consistently did so at a rate in keeping with the demand. A pint of Guinness is returned to me on this particular occasion in a Budweiser glass sparking that age old debate on whether such an importance should be put on the vessel within which a pint is served on, and whether it’s allowable to diminish said importance in the setting of a busy bar. The pint, which is following a few of its friends before it, is drank without too much difficulty in the end.

Overall we couldn’t lie and say that we left here with any sort of urgency to return, especially not when such a gem like The Bridge Tavern is only up the road, but if you’re looking for a few on the way up to Croker there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop in.

Madigan’s: North Earl St.

I wonder if any of you agree with me when it comes to my distinct repulsion toward a good hearty roast dinner? First of all, let me assure you that this is no case of picky eating or food snobbery – there’s not a single bad thought I could possibly muster when I’m halfway through a plate and am mixing gravy and mash together like your aulfella would cement and water with a spade. But there’s a certain vibe that this meal, which is traditionally served on a Sunday, evokes for me that just fills me with dread. The vibe in question is that gloomy sort of despair, a bit like a dose of watered down grieving, or even like The Fear – minus the physiological effects of the drink.

This is no solitary phenomenon though, this feeling can be evoked by many different stimuli – many will experience it upon the occasion of hearing the Glenroe theme tune, some even attribute it to seeing horses jumping around in the RDS in late August. At any moment you are just one small experience away from your mind being tricked into thinking that good times are coming to a close and that normality’s resumption is closer than before.

The above is an excerpt from my manifesto calling for Carvery Bars to be removed from all public houses. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Carvery Bars in plain sight within the confines of a pub are the Devil’s work. Consider it to be a DublinByPub core believe that no one person should be at risk of getting that sinking Sunday feeling while they’re out on the pints, except maybe on a Sunday.

Madigan’s of North Earl St, as you might have guessed, has a carvery bar and I think the previous number of paragraphs say all that needs to be said on that. The pub sits in the centre point between its two identically named sister pubs on Abbey & O Connell St. Aesthetically the pub follows a similar design specification to these sister pubs whereby well-kept wooding fittings and stained glass is the order of the day. It’s a fairly narrow pub and split into two atria by a rather ornate wooden divider that houses a recessed clock in its centre. A long marble bar which compliments the mosaic flooring well runs along the right side of the further of the two atria before stopping to accommodate that feature which will not be mentioned once more.

The pint was of an acceptable standard and at €5.20 came in at far better value than that on sale in the O Connell St branch. The staff couldn’t be faulted too much and even accommodated Pintman Nº2’s insatiable appetite for international football by putting the World Cup on the nearest TV to us.

We couldn’t quantify Madigan’s of North Earl St as anything other than a great looking boozer. But the truth is that it’s quite unlikely that we’d take to frequenting it when we’ve such a Grá for so many boozers nearby. But who knows, leave the food in the kitchen and we might talk.

Doyle’s: College St.

It was over a few pints and within the midst of a discussion on the topic of academia that I found myself outvoted by a majority of my peers recently. Having counted yours truly alongside Wilde, Wolfe Tone and other such alumni, I came to realise that considering Trinity College as one’s Alma Mater by virtue of having served a small portion of an ill-fated electrical apprenticeship on-campus is not an act that bona fide Trinity Graduates are agreeable to. This is not even negotiable when coupled with hours clocked up drinking cans on the Green at The Pav or drinking pints in Doyle’s. I suppose we’ll just have to hold out for an honorary degree in the meantime.

Sitting on the corner of College St. – Doyle’s can sometimes be considered as something of an ad-hoc student bar serving the nearby Trinity College. More a bar with students than a student bar, you can forego the thoughts of sloppy-drunk youngsters nosily gathered around a beer pong table when you come to think of Doyle’s – the place is first and foremost a public house. Traditional in its appearance – it’s decorated in similar tones to average Dublin Pubs throughout town. Dark woods are used for the bar, the floors and the church pew style seating and set the overall look of the pub. The walls display the usual mix of ephemera relating to sport, drinking, music and local history while flourishes of exposed brick and air ducts add a sort of understated rustic charm to the room. The bar itself follows the circular pattern of the pub – wrapping around the curves of the room it leaves no patron more than a couple of metres away from a point of service.

The pint of stout has always hit the mark for us in here and has never given us too much reason for complaint. There’s a decent mix of crafty options alongside the old reliables and there’s usually an offer or two on the go for the students and thrifty postgraduates alike.

All in all we couldn’t fault Doyle’s too much. It’s a pub that facilitated Pintman №3’s tentative foray into the world of pints and pubs and he refuses to view it through any other lens than one that’s heavily tinted with nostalgia. And that’s not to say that the rest of us don’t have our fond memories of the place too – notwithstanding the time the three of us almost came to blows after a disagreement over a question in a Father Ted quiz in the upstairs bar. But that’s a story for another day.

Madigan’s: O’Connell St.

Of all the questions that people level at us here in DublinByPub, the one that we seem to find ourselves on the end of the most is that which seeks to identify what our favourite thing about the Pubs of Dublin is. Now if we’re entirely honest with ourselves here, I think we’d have to admit that the only consistent thing about the answers we’ve given to this particular query over the years would be the level of inconsistency that could be attributed to them. For, you see, there are a great multitude of things that we hold dear when it comes to the watering holes of this city – and if you are to query us on such a broad topic we will take full liberty to fly off on any given tangent influenced solely by what happens to come to mind at that particular moment.

Today, for example, our feature of choice would be history – we’ve said in the past that an interesting history is a marked advantage (yet not a pre-requisite) when determining what makes a good pub – this is definitely a statement which we would still stand over. One of the handier things, though, about a pub with a rich history (from the perspective of someone who happens to be in the business of writing about pubs) is that they offer a good hook from which a piece of writing could flow from – this was certainly something I had hoped would apply to Madigan’s of O’Connell St when I sat down to try and write this piece, all of about two hours ago.

You’d think that a boozer sitting squarely upon the country’s most historically significant thoroughfare would be one that would be steeped in all sorts of ancient wonder, wouldn’t you? But a good hour or so of uninspired googling would suggest that there’s not too much to tell here. My poorly effected research would propose to me that the pub is housed in what was previously part of Savoy Cinema (I’ll have to drop into me Grandfather and confirm that) and was established in 1984. Personally, I was hoping that I’d find that the building was established in 1790 – not because of any reasons pertaining to history, but just because it would have lead nicely into my next paragraph.

€17.90 is the unfortunate sum that yours truly paid for the only round that three of us had in Madigan’s of O’Connell St. Guinness came in at an eye-watering €5.70; a drinkable pint, albeit with a bit too big of a head on top – we wondered if this was an intentional measure taken to safeguard customers against choking when they glanced back down at their receipts. Needless to say, there are far superior pours at infinitely more agreeable prices throughout the city.

Unlike the price of the drink, the appearance of this pub isn’t something that we could fault too much. Ubiquitous and pristinely up-kept mahogany characterises the overall look of the pub – dividers and hatches aplenty offered momentary distraction from the pain emanating from the pocket wherein my wallet was kept. Pintman Nº2, while agreeable to my positive assessment of the interior, was quick to knock off a few more points by wondering why a pub charging five seventy for a jar is still showing World Cup matches on a fuzzy, mid-2000s era, CRT style TV. “Surely they can afford a flat screen by now”, he protests.

The customer base is unsurprisingly mostly made up of tourists, the staff are warm and friendly in their service. The bouncer was prone to nipping in and out to keep track of the score of the ongoing match during our stay – a humourous sort of man, he interacted well with the customers inside. He even suggested a few boozers to us upon overhearing our arguing over where to go next – advice we opted to take in lieu of another round.

This was the last of the many Madigan’s that we had yet to set foot in, ultimately it disappointed. Undoubtedly it’s a well-placed and good looking boozer, but the price of the pint was one that was just too exorbitant for us to justify returning. This now means that Madigan’s of O’Connell St is officially deemed to be DublinByPub’s least favourite of all the Madigan’s. And we include Killbarrack Shopping Centre in that!

 

CARA Magazine

Anyone heading off on their holliers in July? We’re thrilled to announce that Dublin By Pub is included as part of the Documenting Dublin feature of this month’s issue of the fantastic Aer Lingus inflight magazine, CARA.

Make sure to have a thumb through and give it a read if you’re lucky enough to be jetting off somewhere, or check it out here if you’re like us and will only get as far as the other side of the city for the month ahead.