It was a few weeks back that I’d let go of that last vague mumbling thought that I might catch the last bus home and left it up to the gods to decide whether I’d make it into work the next day or not. I was seven or so pints into an ill-advised school night session and I’d just returned back to our table from the bar, empty handed. The lads were none too impressed.

Explaining that the barman had taken ownership of the delivery of the pints to the table I inadvertently provided the topic for our first discussion within the confines of Sheehan’s of Chatham Street – whether the utterance of the words ‘I’ll drop them down to ya’ from the person behind the bar is something that you like or dislike hearing.

So the lads, Pintman №2 and №5, are in plenty of argumentative form on this particular evening and it doesn’t take them long to chime in with their own opinions on the subject. Unsurprisingly enough both of their standings are directly opposed to my own. Unbalanced and prone to spillage as I am, I’m entirely for the motion at hand – help is always appreciated. So long as it comes in good time!

The lads though aren’t of the same opinion. A round to them, as it turns out, is sacred. A time honoured ritual that drinkers have participated in since the beginning of time. This pact is revered by the lads to such a degree that their guardianship of the pints involved in their own round is something they speak of as if it were on par with the weight of responsibility Tolkien foisted upon Frodo to get the one ring back to Mordor. And woe betide any bar staff who should seek to interfere with this.

But my opinion isn’t to be changed on this occasion and as I reveal the pub’s staggering €5.70 price tag on a pint of Guinness, I tell the lads that for that price, I’m not only expecting them to be delivered to the table but to also be done so by someone in the nip, doing a little dance. Thankfully no debate is warranted from this statement – there is unanimity around the table on the motion of €5.70 being an exorbitant price for a pint. It’s even suggested that it may be the reason as to why there isn’t anyone other than us three fuckin eejits in such a nice and centrally located pub of a midweek summer’s evening.

It’s all a bit of a shame really because Sheehan’s is a pub I could easily come to like, maybe even love – with just a few minor tweaks. Obviously, the price of the jar will need to come down to a figure in line with the wage of the common person – that’s a given. Then we’ll need to sort out the lingering bang of grub that seems to perpetually hang about the air in the place.

But with those said, we should also say that there’s plenty we wouldn’t change about the pub. From our research, we note that it’s in family ownership – and has apparently been so since the thirties! That’s always a great trait for a pub to have. It also needs to be considered that the pub is a fine looking shop altogether. Small to medium in size – its mild wooden tones set out the pub’s mellow palette, exposed brick and dividers tie in with this to bring the whole space together. And it comes together nicely. The seats are comfy, the lighting is perfect and the layout is spot on. If we were somehow gifted the pub in the morning we wouldn’t change so much as a splinter sticking out of a floorboard.

We’re sorry to have to repeat ourselves here by speaking of shame once again but it is a shame that this pub isn’t one of the greats. A crying shame! Even when you consider the legendary institutions within the vicinity, this, we believe, is a pub that has the making of something fantastic. It’s a premises that could be easily be standing on the shoulders of the nearby giants of the Dublin pub landscape, but unfortunately – as of now – it’s not even fit to lick their boots.

“If you’ve got any kind of a heart, a soul, an appreciation for your fellow man or any kind of appreciation for the written word or simply a love of a perfectly poured beverage then there’s no way you can avoid loving this city.”

So were the words of celebrity chef, author and globetrotter Anthony Bourdain when he came to describe our own city on one of his many TV shows – The Layover.

Jaysus lads, let me tell you now that Dublin By Pub isn’t always an easy affair. It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m back in work after the weekend. The voice isn’t back yet, the head is still twingeing and I’m still having flashbacks of all the Buckfast sodden debauchery we’ve been up to at the weekend while we were out of the capital for a bit. I don’t even, in the slightest, want to be thinking about alcohol, nevermind writing about it. But duty calls and here we are. So you might forgive any decline in quality for this time around. Cheers.

The Lower Deck is a pub that’s evaded me for years and years. Sneakily hidden around the corner from The La Touché Bridge which facilitates those wishing to traverse the canal from Portobello to Rathmines (or vice versa), it’s a pub which it turns out I’ve had plenty of time to find. The online authority on Dublin history – comeheretome, reckon a pub is on the site since the 1830s. A good snoop around online has brought up a couple of images of the pub where it has been named both McDermott’s Harbour Bar and Michael Ryan’s. Interestingly enough, the concrete space out the front of the pub, often frequented by skateboarders nowadays, isn’t there in the picture of the pub as Michael Ryan’s – instead it’s filled with water seemingly having been a part of the canal itself at one stage. And by the time that the pub is named McDermott’s it’s after been filled in and used as a carpark.

Edit: The body of water was known as The Portobello Basin or The Richmond Basin. Another view here and here

So in its current guise, the pub is known as The Lower Deck which does fit in with the pub’s proximity to the canal but is also a good euphemism for the part of the body where all the action happens. It’s a reasonable-sized boozer and houses a music venue in its basement called The Bello Bar. We arrive of a recent Saturday afternoon when there was a touch of summer in the air and made straight to the bar.

The pub is a decked out (yes, decked) in a traditional enough style with upholstered couches, high and low stools around the place. The bar sits as a rectangle in the centre of the room with the space around it divided up. Raised sections sit upon the left as you walk in and as you make your way to the further side of the bar there’s plenty of low seating on offer too. It’s a pub you could get cosy in easily enough – and one with an immaculate jaxx by the standard we’re used to.

The pint was a good one too, no complaints were heard around the table and not even on the price which fell below the fiver mark. Nothing short of a miracle around this particular part of town.

My favourite part of our visit to the pub though was to take in this aul lad who was perched with a pint and a tablet (the electronic kind, nothing small and blue to see here) on a table upon the periphery of one of the raised sections toward the back of the pub. He was the sort of man that reminded me of my own father insofar that he had the look of one of those aul fellas that treated advances in personal computing with nothing but persistent reluctance. That is until one day they were made aware of the advantages these technological feats had bestowed upon the experience of the watching of and gambling on horse racing. This man, however, seemed to have taken things a step further than my own da and had set up in the pub using his silver surfing credentials to dispense all necessary information lacking from an immediate proximate bookmaker. I think he was even taking bets. Fair play to him.