It’s fair to say that we’ve made no secret of the fact that DublinByPub can sometimes be a Brendan Behan fanzine disguised as a Pub Blog. We adore the man – firstly for his literary genius, but also, and perhaps controversially (though unsurprisingly), for his stature as a renowned drinker and pub-dweller extraordinaire.

And though we’ve often thought of compiling a Brendan Behan pub crawl, it had always been evident to us that if you were to make a crawl of Dublin Pubs that Behan had been known to frequent – you would be creating both an unassailable task and a public health risk.

Brendan Behan

However, to mark the centenary of the great man’s birth this coming ninth of February, we thought we’d throw together something that that’s more of a pub walk than a crawl. Call it a ramble through Brendan’s Dublin with a few pints thrown in for good measure.

The walk does cover a fair bit of ground – notably the distance between the last two pubs – and though I think it’s certainly doable by foot – feel free to substitute foot for whatever means of transport is more preferable to you, where needed.

The Map

We’ve put a google map together, plotting out all the sites mentioned. Visit the link here, or use the window, below.

Stops Number 1 and 2: Glasnevin Cemetery and The Gravediggers

So just like Brendan himself, we’re going to start on the Northside and end up on the Southside. Our first stop is Glasnevin Cemetery – the last resting place of Behan and the site upon which he fired at members of The Gardaí in 1942, earning himself a 14-year sentence in Mountjoy Prison.

Brendan Behan's Grave

Some might view it as a little contentious to have the first pub on a Brendan Behan pub crawl be one that there’s no record of Behan having actually frequented, but Kavanagh’s (better known to Dubliners as The Gravediggers), we think, has earned its place in the story of Brendan. Being located a two-minute walk from Brendan’s grave, staff from the cemetery speak of how they often return pint glasses to the pub from the plot containing Brendan’s mortal remains, having been left there by thirsty pilgrims who have made the journey out to see the grave.

We could think of no better way to start this walk than by bringing a pint up to Brendan.

Stops Number 3 and 4: The Royal Canal

What Behan walk would be complete without including The Royal Canal. Through his association with the song – The Auld Triangle, and his being domiciled close to its banks on two separate occasions in his life, Brendan has arguably brought the man-made body of water more fame than any other individual ever has.

When you walk its banks, leaving Phibsborough and heading in the direction of Drumcondra, it won’t take long before you reach Stop 3, where you’ll be able to look upon the vista of Mountjoy Prison – where Brendan himself was incarcerated and the location he set one of his most famous works – The Quare Fellow. Continue to walk the canal and you’ll come to John Coll’s statue of Brendan which was unveiled in 2003.

Brendan Behan Sculpture by John Coll

Stops Number 5, 6 and 7: The Russell Street District.

The next street that crosses the canal after Drumcondra Road if you continue towards town is Russell Street, our fifth stop. Though demolished now, Behan was raised in a tenement house on Russell Street until the Behan family were relocated out to Suburbia (or Siberia as Brendan would quip) in the 30s  – ending up on Kildare Road in Crumlin. As you come to the top of Russell Street, you’ll see an Italian Restaurant on the right – Asti, which contains a courtyard named Behan Square to its rear.

At the top of the street, on the left, you’ll see stop number 6 – James Gill’s pub. A pub that is synonymous with Brendan and indeed all the Behans – them all having frequented it in their day. The pub can be seen in the film Brendan Behan’s Dublin, which is thankfully on youtube. Unfortunately, Gills tends to only open on big match days when they occur in nearby Croke Park – so you could decamp to Hogan’s or The Hideout for a pint at this point if there’s no drink to be had in Gills. The aforementioned Italian restaurant is an excellent choice, should you want to fuel up with something more substantial for the walking ahead.

Gill's 2

A short distance from Russell Street, you can find Shane Sutton’s astonishing mural of Brendan, painted onto the side of a dwelling on Richmond Cottages. (Hint: Be sure to also check out Shane’s nearby Joyce Mural up the road from this one)

A Brendan Behan Pub Walk

Stop Number 8: The Abbey Theatre

The National Theatre, The Abbey has shown numerous productions of Brendan’s plays throughout the years. The theatre, itself, relocated to The Queens Theatre on Pearse Street after a fire for much of the time that Brendan was alive and in the public eye – but has long since been on Abbey Street. A large portrait of Brendan hangs at the top of the stairs as you walk up to the first floor of the Theatre. There’s a café in the theatre now, and depending on the time, you might find the bar open upstairs too. The pint is surprisingly decent.

Portrait of Brendan Behan in The Abbey Theatre.

Stops Number 9 and 10: The Palace Bar and McDaid’s

The Palace and McDaid’s could be considered the two pubs most closely linked to the post-war literary boom in Dublin. Behan was known to frequent both but was possibly more synonymous with McDaid’s which seemed to be the rowdier of the two, at the time.

Palace 1

DBP 20190309

John Ryan captures this in his memoir –The Way We Stood, when recounting a time RM Smyllie, editor of The Times, chanced his arm at frequenting McDaids:

Rumours of literary goings-on in MacDaid’s must have reached the master’s ear because Smyllie turned up there one night, having made the prodigious journey (of about half a mile) from the Palace. It was about the time that this pub was beginning its long history as a poetic glue-pot. A fight over the use of spondees was going on in one corner between two wild men in duffle coats, Brendan Behan was standing on a table bawling his rendition of ‘I was Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ and Gainor Crist, the Ginger Man, was getting sick, evidently into someone else’s pint. It was too much for the great man, who finished, in one vast swallow, his large Irish, gave a final, baleful owl-like glare at this frightening assembly, and waddled out into the Harry Street night and the ultimate sanctuary of the Palace as fast as his trotters could take him. He was never seen in McDaid’s again.

A brass plaque commemorates Brendan on the ground outside The Palace. In McDaid’s, various portraits of The Borstal Boy, himself, can be seen hung about the place.

Stop Number 11: Site of The Pike Theatre.

Not that you’d think to look at it, but the unassuming premises of Number 43 Herbert Lane, a coach-house/mews for its corresponding canalside residence, once contained The Pike Theatre. A provocative small-scale theatre which staged the world premiere of The Quare Fellow.

Site of The Pike Theatre

Stop Number 12: The Waterloo Bar

Though unrecognisable from how it would have appeared back then, The Waterloo was once a known haunt of Brendan’s. As a nod to this, the pub has named one of their snugs after him. An artwork on a street side cable cabinet outside the pub depicts himself and his best frenemy – Patrick Kavanagh, the two former kings of Baggotonia in a cartoonish form. See if you can spot it in the image below.

The Waterloo

Stop Number 13: Brendan & Beatrice’s Home

Described as “my present to you” by Brendan, to his wife Beatrice. It was bought in 1959 when it had an asking price of £3,000. It was up for sale with an asking price of €1,200,000 in 2005.

5 Anglesea Road

Stop Number 14: Harkin’s – Harbour Bar.

I suppose we’ve finished this walk in as macabre a fashion as we begun. Harkin’s Harbour Bar, the pub now closest to The Guinness Brewery, is the last pub to ever host Brendan. Sadly, he collapsed here in March of 1964 before dying, aged a mere 41years, in The Meath Hospital several days later.


Last Thoughts / Summary

If you wanted to extend the walk from here, you could opt to next head out to Crumlin and check out The Crumlin Kremlin, as it was termed. 70 Kildare Road is the abode in which the Behans were resettled after they had to leave Russel Street. Obviously, in the case of this one, and 5 Anglesea Road in Stop #13, we’d urge you to be respectful – given that these are both homes belonging to people.

70 Kildare Road

So, whether you do some of the walk, or all of the walk, or just enjoyed reading it – we’d urge you to raise a glass to Brendan on or about the 9th of February to mark the hundredth year since he was born. Ni bheidh a leithead aris ann!

A great number of writers are synonymous with a great number of things for different reasons. And a great number of writers are synonymous with the city of Dublin. But when it comes to levels of synonymy with this city of ours, there’s little arguing that Joyce is its foremost considered literary son.

Joyce knew Dublin – in fact, Joyce knew Dublin so well that he was able to write Ulysses in exile from the city. And to know Dublin is to know its pubs and unsurprisingly enough, Joyce knew all about them too.

Most will have heard Joyce’s most famous quote about pubs – it being the moment that Leopold Bloom envisages a puzzle whereby one would try to cross Dublin without passing a pub, but his involvement with pubs doesn’t stop there. Joyce was said to have had argued with publishers over the inclusion of pubs in ‘Dubliners’ even at one point offering to get the go ahead from the publicans themselves adding that they would be ‘glad of the advertisement’.

So without further ado, let’s get down to the pubs. We originally compiled this crawl in conjunction with fundraising efforts that were being undertaken by Sweny’s Pharmacy – a 172 year old premises which features in Ulysses – to this day it remains mostly unchanged from the days when Joyce would have visited and conjured up the initial image of Leopold Bloom stopping in for his wife’s face lotion and his lemon soap.

With this crawl we had two main criteria in mind. Firstly and compulsory is that the pubs on the crawl are mentioned in the writings of James Joyce. Secondly is the idea that these pubs retain some of the character that they once had in the early 1900s – this is more so a desirable quality rather than a necessary one.

Dublin By Pub – James Joyce Pub Crawl – Google My Maps

A pub crawl of some of the pubs mentioned in the works of James Joyce

Davy Byrne's

1. Davy Byrne’s

This pub is probably regarded as the ultimate Joycean watering hole in Dublin, and no James Joyce pub would be complete without it. Featured in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom stops in and orders a glass of burgundy and a Gorgonzola sandwich.

“He entered Davy Byrne’s. Moral pub. He doesn’t chat. Stands a drink now and then. But in leap year once in four. Cashed a cheque for me once.”

Truth being told, we put this one first to get it out of the way. It’s not one of our favourite boozers, it’s pricy and a bit too plush for any proper comfort. It contains little or none of the visual characteristics it would have had in 1904.

But it’s carved out its niche as a cornerstone of Joycean Dublin by retaining the original name and purveying cheese sambos and glasses of burgundy to Bloom wannabes all year round.

2. The International

International 1

Known as Ruggy O’Donohoe’s at the time of Ulysses, we’ve chosen to include The International as it’s one of Dublin’s original Victorian pubs and retains a similar aesthetic. The pub is mentioned in Episode 10, Wandering Rocks, as below:

“Opposite Ruggy O’Donohoe’s Master Patrick Aloysius Dignam, pawing the pound and a half of Mangan’s, late Fehrenbach’s, porksteaks he had been sent for, went along warm Wicklow street dawdling. It was too blooming dull sitting in the parlour with Mrs Stoer and Mrs Quigley and Mrs MacDowell and the blind down and they all at their sniffles and sipping sups of the superior tawny sherry uncle Barney brought from Tunney’s. And they eating crumbs of the cottage fruitcake, jawing the whole blooming time and sighing”


3. The Oval

The Oval is another pub which retains the same name since its mention in Ulysses. It crops up in Episode 7:

“–What’s that? Myles Crawford said with a start. Where are the other two gone?
–Who? the professor said, turning. They’re gone round to the Oval for a drink. Paddy Hooper is there with Jack Hall. Came over last night.
–Come on then, Myles Crawford said. Where’s my hat?”

While the fittings and furnishings in The Oval may not be the same as they were in the early 1900s, given that the pub was destroyed during the 1916 Rising, the pub does still have an old time charm which should satisfy most trying to conjure up Joyce’s Dublin.

JM Cleary's

4. J. & M. Cleary

More known for its ties to Michael Collins than Ulysses, it’s mentioned in Episode 16 of the book. Back then it traded as The Signal House.

“So, bevelling around by Mullet’s and the Signal House which they shortly reached, they proceeded perforce in the direction of Amiens street railway terminus”

J. M. Cleary’s two nearest neighbouring pubs were both mentioned in Ulysses too. Mullets still trades under its 1906 name and Llyod’s was known as Dan Bergin’s when it was mentioned in Ulysses. You can add in these two pubs to the crawl here if you wish.

5. Mulligan’s

“When the Scotch House closed they went round to Mulligan’s. They went into the parlour at the back and O’Halloran ordered small hot specials all round. They were all beginning to feel mellow. Farrington was just standing another round when Weathers came back. Much to Farrington’s relief he drank a glass of bitter this time. Funds were getting low but they had enough to keep them going.”


I always wonder why Davy Byrnes’ is perceived to be more associated with Joyce rather than Mulligan’s. Mulligan’s features in ‘Counterparts’, one of the stories in ‘Dubliners’, as prominently as Davy’s does in Ulysses, and as well as this, the pub’s appearance is far closer to that which Joyce would have seen when he was writing Dubliners.

Be sure to go into the bar on the left side of the building (pictured) and try to get a seat in the parlour down the back, where Counterparts is set, it’s just beyond the Grandfather Clock.

Kennedys Westland Row

6. Kennedy’s

Formerly known as Conway’s, this pub is mentioned in Episode 5 in Ulysses when Bloom meets M’Coy:

I was with Bob Doran, he’s on one of his periodical bends, and what do you call him Bantam Lyons. Just down there in Conway’s we were.

And so brings a conclusion to our James Joyce Pub Crawl. We finished at Kennedy’s intentionally due to its proximity to Sweny’s – so when you’ve finally reached the final boozer, do nip across to see Dublin’s greatest living Joycean relic, and grab a bar of lemon soap yourself too, you might need it after all that walking.



Obviously, for convenience’s sake, we kept this crawl within the city centre. But if you wanted to elongate it a bit, we’d recommend you start in The Gravedigger’s, which sits beside Glasnevin Cemetry – the graveyard where Paddy Dignam is buried in Ulysses. From there, you could continue to The Brian Boru (Hedigan’s) which is also noted by the men in the car on the way out to the funeral. This will bring you onto the Canal which you could follow all the way to The North Strand and within the vicinity of Llyods, Mullet’s and J.M Cleary’s.

“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.

The Ginger Man Pub on Fenian Street is a pub that we’ve always had a fondness for. Over the years, as we’ve come to darken its door more and more, we eventually queried its name to discover that it was the namesake of a book written by author J.P Donleavy.