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.

You just can’t beat a good quote, can ya?

No, I haven’t gone corporate and sold out to an insurance company (we sell out for booze and cash only, fyi). When I say quote here, I’m not referring to that annual screwjob that motorists find themselves coughing up for, I’m speaking, instead, about the particular branch of language and literature that we all come back to for assurance and guidance at some point in our lives.

Whether you’re a low-level dealer who wants to inform Old Bill that you exclusively accept judgement from a higher power or you’re a prospective Trinity Graduate seeking concise use of the Latin tongue for your philosophy assignment, or anywhere between – we’re all happy to be defined by quotes that connect with us, quotes that move us. In modernity where social standing is often predicated by online presence, quotations fit perfectly into a space where succinctness is key. Spend a day on Twitter and observe what goes viral and what doesn’t and you’ll know all about people’s fondness for short expressive statements. But, inversely, you’ll also see how all quotations are not born equally – and it’s with that in mind that I’d like you to consider the following two quotes:

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

“I fuckin love Chaplins, grand little boozer.”

They probably don’t appear to be, but these two quotes share a connection. It may be tentative and completely contrived for the sole purpose of this article but hey, a tentative contrived connection is still a connection. The first quote, as I’m sure some will have recognised, is one from Charlie Chaplin. Not someone I’ve been overly familiar with down through the years, I can happily say that having spent a precious hour of my employer’s time on Chaz’s Wikipedia page that I do like the cut of the man. He’s most certainly the type of lad whom you’d consider a worthy of having a pub named in his honour – and yes, this is where Chaplin’s gets its name from, but we’ll come back to that in a couple of paragraphs’ time.

The second quotation is one from someone who hasn’t yet quite reached the dizzying heights of fame that The Tramp did back in the early 1900s – Pintman №3. But I thought it appropriate to include because isn’t it an honest appraisal after all. Pintman №3 knows the score, he worked in close proximity to Chaplin’s so you know his assessment of the place isn’t a spurious one. Bolstering my surety in his assessment of the place is his disclosure in a text message, which follows the aforementioned quotation, that he’s sat in a pub close to his office putting some finishing touches on a bit of work he has to hand in that afternoon. If only my job was like that.

My job isn’t like that. But I do get plenty of time to write these posts on the sly so I suppose I better get back to Chaplin’s. As alluded to above – the pub is named after the most world’s most famous Chaplin – Charlie. The reason for this is explained in a claim made on the pub’s website stating that himself once visited the premises while on holiday to Ireland, they opt not to disclose any further inforation regarding this visit thereafer. I’ve had a poke around and haven’t been able to substantiate the claim to such a degree of accuracy to put Charlie in the same address on Hawkins’ St, but it is noted that he performed as part of a Clog Dancing troupe named The Eight Lancashire Lads in The Theatre Royal Hippodrome, which sat on Hawkins’ Street itself. So he has at least that association with the street at the very least.

Almost ecclesiastical in its appearance, Chaplin’s is characterised, in my mind at least, by the set of three or four wooden stands which sit in the pub’s main expanse. These carved, overhang-less structures look like they’d be more geared toward affording a foundation to a large candle in the pro-cathedral instead of housing a rake of pints, but they get the job done well enough. Along with these, the pub offers ample ledge space for further pint perching options and there are a few dividers along the span of these also.
I’d tend to describe the pub’s size as being somewhere between the small and the medium. It’s a dark enough spot but retains just about enough illumination to escape it being labelled as ‘too dark’. A bit of stained glass around the room adds a certain charm and there’s plenty of decoration on the wall, some of which we decided was probably a set of postcards depicting the various works on show in The National Gallery.

Seating is kept fairly uniform- the front of the pub offers high seating on exclusive means, with all the lower seating kept the back of the room which closes in, conforming to the building’s curve. The bar itself is relatively small to other’s around the city but is a good size relative to the room. The drink options lean more toward the old reliables but there tends to be a few choices for those feeling more adventurous. The Guinness is not to a standard that it’s ever set my world alight but I’ve heard it lauded by a few people over the years. On balance, I find it a decent enough pint – certainly nothing to ever consider avoiding. As far as the finances go – it was selling for €5.20 a fill upon the last time that we visited, which would have been around December 2018.

So seeing as we’ve put such an emphasis on quotation here, it’s probably fitting that we re-emphasise Pintman №3’s previous sentiment and agree that Chaplin’s is indeed a – “grand little boozer” and one we’ve always found to be simple in its approach and as somebody once said: Simplicity of approach is always best.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassador O’Hanrahan, Mr Prime Minister, Esteemed members of the Nobel Committee, I thank you all for coming to my lecture today and I would like to begin by asking you a question – Have you ever encountered the condition Paris Syndrome? For those of you who haven’t, please allow me to explain.

Predominately affecting Japanese tourists, Paris Syndrome is a condition resultant of a person’s realisation that the capital city of France is not the idealised ‘city of love’ that they had conjured up in their minds from all the portrayals of it they had seen through the years. This particular category of culture-shock can apparently reach a level of such severity that it elicits physiological symptoms in those who suffer from it. These have been known to include dizziness, sweating, vomiting and hallucinations.

The reason I mention the above-described syndrome is due to the fact that it draws many parallels with that syndrome which we are most concerned with in this lecture today – The Dublin Syndrome. While not confined to the defined region of the Irish Capital, the affliction is named after the native origin of Patient Zero who presented in a Dublin clinic upon his return home from a short break in a European capital city.

Described as an acute disassociation from one’s own affinity with their original place of origin upon repatriation from a short and enjoyable spell spent abroad, Dublin Syndrome can be brought about by many underlying factors. One prevailing aspect of each patient who presented was their inclination to over-romanticise their place of origin. This romanticisation was noted as being compounded by many factors including the consumption of positively-biased social media pertaining to their place of origin and indulgence in local customs, patient zero being noted as a regular participant in the Irish phenomenon known as ‘the craic’.

Dublin Syndrome has been identified as occurring sometime between when a person returns from a short holiday and close to when the sufferer begins to throw their own internal romanticisation of their hometown into doubt. In each case, this doubt was the result of the patient having juxtaposed aspects of their hometown against those which are more favourable in the place they have recently visited. These include, but are not limited to, weather conditions, alcohol pricing, bar and club opening hours, cuisine, etc, etc.

Ultimately this leaves the patient questioning their previously perceived status quo, commonly the patient will, unfruitfully, seek to re-evaluate their connection to their hometown. Physiological effects similar to Paris Syndrome such as dizziness, sweating, vomiting and hallucinations have been recorded but leading researchers have not been able to isolate these from symptoms commonly found in patients suffering from The Fear, a separate condition in itself – which many sufferers of Dublin Syndrome also simultaneously presented with.

Following innumerable vaccine trials and inestimable hours of research, leading researchers have discovered an effective treatment for sufferers of Dublin Syndrome. The treatment, which also is said to be effective in fighting The Fear, was discovered in a manner befitting the discovery of penicillin, given the serendipity involved.

It was one particular evening when upon my way home in Dublin, that I happened upon Patient Zero as he passed from Pearse Street to Westland Row. Noticing that he was beleaguered with symptoms at the time I took the opportunity to candidly observe the patient in the wild lieu of approaching him. As he reached the top of the street, the patient stopped at Kennedy’s public house and after a moment of contemplation, he entered. Being in the dark wooden environs of the pub and having stepped upon the tiled flooring the patient appeared to experience an improvement in their symptoms as they ordered a drink.

Awaiting this drink, the patient was noted to have observed portraits of writers which hung about the walls of the pub. In later interviews, he would come to explain the calming effect brought about in realising that ‘Beckett, Behan and Joyce would’ve drank here themselves’. The patient even goes as far as to say that it is at this early stage when he first begins to experience the return of, what he described as, “pangs” of older romanticised “notions”.

The patient is then noted to have observed nearby Joycean relic – Sweny’s pharmacy through one of the many large windows in the pub as he set about ingesting the first portion of the alcoholic beverage he had previously purchased. The analgesic effect of this is observed as having occurred faster than expected with the patient appearing more comfortable than at any time since having presented. This comfort is perceived to subside somewhat as the patient reads the figure, which is later clarified as €5.50, on a receipt which had been issued to him with the beverage. This is then countenanced when the subject medicates himself further with the beverage he had bought.

I continue to observe the patient as he self-medicates, increasing his dosage as he goes. As he begins to risk overmedication, I note that he has begun to interact with control subjects. It is at this point that the subject begins to drink whiskey and puts themselves at risk of overmedication. As he begins to sing a folk song about a triangle I decide to interject and return the patient back to the test facility for evaluation. His reaction to this is made in a positive tone as he enquires whether we are going to “a session”.

In the weeks following the trial, the patient is observed on a semi-regular basis and is deemed to have made a near-full recovery. He continues to bemoan the grievances such as the price of the pint, closing hours, and local climate on a smaller scale. But researchers cannot rule out the possibility that such behaviour did not predate the patient’s contraction of The Dublin Syndrome.

The year is 2053 and the end is nigh! Global warming, nuclear warfare, global pandemic, zombie apocalypse – picture it however you see fit. I was thinking about how certain subcultures would get on in some sort of apocalyptic scenario there the other day and ultimately I came to realise that the first set of the general population to start to see rapid attrition, aside from the infirm, will ultimately have to be the hipsters.

My hypothesis is based on two main ideas – firstly the veganism. Now I’m not for a moment going to knock vegans – fair play to them! Especially those who do it properly. But the type of fad veganism that hipsters tend to have a proclivity toward can’t be good for the system – taking all of that iron out of the equation just to look cool can only mean one thing– anaemia. And the anaemic are certainly at a loss when our plague-stricken sun scorched, sea-swelled, radioactive night of the living dead doomsday scenario plays out.

Secondly, and this is something a chiropractor or a spinal surgeon might easily school us on, but it seems to me that the variety of mismatched, rigid and antiquated seating one tends to happen upon in The Bernard Shaw and its contemporaries just cannot be the type that leaves your spine in a better shape than it would have been prior to use. I’m near-on certain that we’ll have a good cohort of grey-haired hunchback hipsters knocking about the place telling us how they collected their pensions before it was cool come 2053. And lord knows that they’ll be ripe for the pickin’ when all of the looters and the undead come rummaging around the gaff at end of days.

So, The Bernard Shaw. Name after Portobello’s most famous Nobel Laureate (who, himself, shortened his name by dropping the George at the start of it), this pub is one held in the same regard by the hipster class as St Paul’s Cathedral would be by subscribers to Catholicism. It’s a boozer which tends to be revered by cooler kids than I for its exterior rather than its interior. We’re told that the beer garden is extensive and that there’s a double decker bus somehow involved in the whole setup. Unfortunately all of this is a bit lost on me – my take on al fresco drinking being that it is better done on grass and through the thriftier means of cans. And as for drinking on a bus, personally I wouldn’t want to risk a Vietnam flashback of some of the things I’ve seen on the 27 down throughout the years.

As with all pubs, our concern lies mainly with the interior.

More Cockney flower girl than toast of London, the pub is comprised of three main sections – the front bar, triangular in its layout, screams twenty minute lunch rather than six pint session – although there is something to be said for its purpose as a prime people-watching real estate. Closing in acutely, this section leads toward a small set of steps which bring you to the lower area of the pub – this in turn houses a larger seating area complete with DJ box and the third section of the pub – a tiled corridor, in essence, sits at the back of the building. The aesthetic of the place is standard hipster chic – rough and ready – characterised by mismatched minimalist furniture and perpetually changing artwork.

Pint-wise, the main complaint is to be made in relation to the price. €5.70 is the sum charged for a Guinness – which, in fairness, was a bit of a majestic drop. Along with the stout – and as you’d expect from such a place – there’s a wide range of craft on offer too.

It was always unlikely that we were ever going to come to extol the virtues of this place. At best for us, it’s a decent lesson in subjectivity – people love it! And we’re fine with that. But with that said, our likelihood of return is probably most appropriately summed up with Shavian parlance – “not bloody likely”.

Recently I found myself struck by a thought as I wandered in amongst the vibrancy and boisterousness of the beloved melting pot of ethnicity and street traders that is Moore Street. In the lead up to this I was pondering a subject far from the reality that surrounded me in the market of Moore St. – English Peerage. The Peerage of England, for the purpose of this article, is something we’d describe as an umbrella term for all of the silly bollock-talk regarding dukes, barons, viscounts and other such made up titles that happen to get bandied about by our nearest neighbours to the east. And the reason as to why I’d been thinking this deeply about such a thing in public was the same reason as always – the pub!

The Duke on Duke Street, it seems was named after some aul codger named Charles FitzRoy who in addition to being the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was also the Second Duke of Grafton. His father – Henry, First Duke of Grafton was married to a Countess and was also an illegitimate child of King Charles II and Duchess Barbara Villiers.

It was in the middle of trying to make sense of all this guillotine-worthy convoluted nonsense, I found my pattern of thought interrupted by a hardy street trader who was noisily speaking to a friend whom she hadn’t seen in a while. Filling her friend in with all of the latest goss, she spoke seamlessly as she navigated her words through the complicated array of extended family and friends.

“Well, ye know Patrick, from Domnick Street dont’che? Ah, ye do – Wacker they use’ ta call ‘im, he looked after the boxing up in Sherrifer. Well, he’s only after going and getting some youngone from Cabra up the pole. And ye won’t believe who she’s related to!? Only Biddy Reilly from Mountjoy – you know yer one Biddy – Bridget! Ah, ye do!”

It struck me there and then that these street traders, with their inherent skills for navigating complex family lineages, would be perfect candidates for teaching people all about that English peerage craic. So let’s just remember that if all these greedy developers do manage to knock Moore Street and make them redundant. They’ll have a job over in Windsor, no bother to them.

So anyway, The Duke. It seems if you stand on Grafton Street blindfolded and throw a coin over your shoulder that you’ll likely hit a pub with ties to numerable writers of International regard. I’m even beginning to feel like I’m repeating myself in some of these write-ups going on about various pubs’ ties to writers, but The Duke is yet another public house which lays claim to having sheltered the likes of George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Flann O Brien and is another renowned Dublin Literary Pub. So renowned in fact that it is the starting point for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. Which we really must get around to doing one day!

The interior is cosy, and remarkably so given the expanse of the pub. Wooden floors and carpet make up the flooring. Traditional seating abounds and there are even open fires! The lighting tends to be spot on and the colours are gentle too – all in all, it’s a boozer that ticks all the right boxes for us, aesthetically speaking.

The pint tends to be decent, nothing to be dreamt about but nothing to inspire any nightmares either. Alike most neighbouring watering holes, you’ll want a Duke’s wage to be drinking comfortably in here. We last paid €5.40 for a jar which is just too much if you ask me.

But price concerns aside, you can’t mistake the importance of a boozer like this which has stood since 1822 and houses an interior mostly unchanged since the 1890s. How lucky we are to live in a city containing such historical premises while having none of the nonsense for which they’re named after.

Whenever we’re about to set off to check out a pub that we’ve never been in before, I’ll usually check it out online. Just a quick search on Google will usually put me on the right track with regard to directions and the like. It’ll also save us the inconvenience of making our way out to a pub that won’t be open for another few hours, or worse still – one that has shut up shop entirely.

So when we set out for Clarke’s Phibsborough House, these same usual rituals were observed, and in observing them I couldn’t help but notice a headline that cropped it in close proximity to all the requisite information which was initially sought. The headline which referred to an incident in the pub some years back read “Bar manager had ear lobe bitten off in fight, court told”, and having read it I thought I’d not divulge it to my drinking companions.

It was shortly after Christmas of 2018 that we did eventually make it into Clarke’s. Pintman №2 and I were in first with Pintman №3 following in shortly afterwards. We found the place to be sparsely populated with the entire patronage sitting along the extensive u-shaped bar. We decided to buck the trend and opt for a low table which bordered the left side of the bar – and indeed the entire pub follows a similar layout with high stools being used solely at the bar and lower seating elsewhere. The decoration was standard enough with antiquated household items making up much of the ornamentation– phones, radios, clocks and sewing machines aplenty littered the shelf space while the usual array of old drink adverts and local history took pride of place in the picture frames about the place.

Being settled and more comfortable I eventually decided to disclose the aforementioned news article I had heretofore chosen to censor from my friends. In doing so, I managed to attract the attention of a man nearby who decided to interject and tell us that he’d been present during the event in question. Probing him further, we came to learn that the incident, in his opinion, was a case of a diligent barman falling afoul of some toe-rag while trying to keep his customers safe. Wondering about the outcome of the trial we asked him whether the attacker ended up being incarcerated – ‘Well I’ll put it to ye this way lads’, he said – ‘ ‘E got 3 ‘ears that fella… And the poor aul barman got one and a half’

The pint in Clarke’s was ok. Costing €4.70, it was neither astounding nor distressing and was certainly better than that on offer for a full 90 cent more across the road. Our only gripe about the place was the jaxx which was in dire need of a bit of a makeover. Other than that we couldn’t complain about this boozer too much. A grand spot where staff will risk life and limb for customers’ safety. And you couldn’t really ask for more than that!

Fair play to the gaffer. Most of you probably didn’t know that Dublin By Pub is sponsored by my employers, I mean – how could you, when they don’t even know themselves? But I would like to take this opportunity to thank my superiors for having not copped that I’ve spent the last day and a half conducting frantic research on the topic of the public house in situ at No. 15 Suffolk Street, Dublin from my desk. In work. On company time. Honestly, I’d name them for the bit of advertising here if I didn’t think that it’d get me sacked.

Now I’d love to sit here and tell you that this abovementioned research bore fruit other than my continuing gladness that I decided to make this page an anonymous entity, but unfortunately my limited research has gotten the better of me here – there are just too many loose ends. But on the topic of the history of the pub pictured, I do know the following:

  • It was once known as Slattery’s and was so at the turn of the 20th century, and indeed it’s mentioned in Ulysses as such.
  • The next record of the pub I found was an advert in a copy of a student paper – The Trinity News. Dated in 1962, the paper carries an advert for 15 Suffolk Street which gives three separate names and states: “MOYLANS late O’Donoghues |The Grafton | Stockists of The Choicest and Best Wines and Liqueurs”.
  • After that, I found a pub crawl feature in the same publication from 1970, some eight or so years later. Here the pub is referred to as Slattery’s as well as The Suffolk House and is described in the article as “many things to many men and the few insane though sober females that lurk here regularly”.
  • Before its current incarnation, the pub was named The Thing Mote, after the same type of Viking structure which sat in the Suffolk street district back when Dublin was just a nipper.

I’ll leave it you yourself to cobble together the history of this boozer, I think in the meantime I need to register with The National Library or put out an appeal for someone to lend me a complete set of Dublin directories for the last hundred or so years. Anyway, on with the pub in its current guise.

A small to medium sized boozer, O’Donoghues is widest at the front with the pub closing in at acute angles toward its rear wall. A raised section is installed at the end of the space and is more often than not used as a stage. Seating is minimal – when unused by performers, the raised section makes use of traditional low tables and stools while the unraised section exclusively contains high seating along the ledges and few high tables.

Now I’ve often decried the layout of this boozer, and Pintman №2 and №3 will argue that I’m just being too picky when I reckon that the Feng Shui of the pub just isn’t right and that the lighting is just a bit too low – and to be fair to them I probably am. The lads reckon that the craic we’ve had in here over the years supersedes any negative impact to be garnered from bad table placement and overused dimmer switches – and they’re probably right there again because we’ve had some serious craic in here.

Our experiences of the pub, having been entirely of the after-dark variety, may be different to others – but to us, this is no pub for a quiet chat. This is our go-to boozer for singing your head off whilst wedged into a crowd of strangers. The crowd is a healthy mix of tourists, dubs and countrymen & women and is usually busy enough. Service is generally well equipped to deal with the crowds and none of us has ever had cause to query or return any pints we’ve had there. Upon our last visit at the end of 2018 we parted with the sum of €5.50 for a pint which is unfortunately in line with the higher prices typical of the locality.

Recently the pub has been in the media over its involvement in litigation regarding financial matters. The content of the article is so full of technical financial shite-talk that a layperson, such as me, couldn’t decipher what in the name of lantern jaysis is going on – but it didn’t sound too good. So, who knows? We could see another name on the front of 15 Suffolk St in the months and years to come. And let’s just pray, that whatever happens, it’s that of a publican.

In the month of September, with all the usual talk of Indian Summers abound, I’d happened to find myself becoming dizzy in a well-known Baggot Street pub. This particular spell of pub-housed dizziness was comparatively unusual as it wasn’t one which had been brought about by the effect of alcohol, but instead had been borne from a rush of blood to the head. Witness to this was my drinking companion – Pintman №2, who upon his return from the bar had found me with my head beneath the couch in one of the three snugs in Doheny & Nesbitt’s, immediately inquired as to what I was doing. Attempting to quell his curiosity I promptly responded by telling him that I was looking for money. Unsatisfied with this answer, he probed me further – “Why?”, he asked. “The IMF”, I responded.

This only served to heighten his curiosity.

Now far be it from us to talk politics here on Dublin By Pub– after all, to do so is to be in direct contravention of one of the great unwritten rules of the Irish pub – No Politics. I’ve often heard my grandfather – a man who is only a few short years younger than the state – recall how speaking politics in a boozer was a bar-able offence. ‘You have to remember how vicious the civil war was’ he’d say, ‘Brothers shooting at brothers. That was all still fresh in everybody’s minds. People would be liable to kill each other talking about that sort of stuff. Especially if there was drink taken.’


Doheny & Nesbitt’s lives outside the jurisdiction of this unwritten rule. Frequently regarded as the foremost political pub in Dublin, I needed not fear any expulsion when it came time for me to explain to Pintman №2 who Christine Le Garde was. Having told him to have a look at ‘the aulone’ in the picture behind us, which had been taken in the same snug we were sitting in, I explained that she was head honcho numero-uno over at the IMF, and therefore would be just the woman to drop a quid or two down the couch. Unfortunately there was ne’er a coin nor a promissory note to be found – so we moved our chat swiftly along from economic geopolitics to the more comfortable topics lads down the local who bear resemblance to minor celebrities, the price of a pint and other such related topics.

There can be no denying that Doheny & Nesbitt’s is an institution. But given that it’s often referred to as The Doheny & Nesbitt’s School of Economics – it’s a pub that I came to approach with a degree of wariness. You might forgive this embittered, would-be tradesman but over time the word ‘economics’ and its variants are ones I’ve come to develop a natural disdain for. You see, phraseology pertaining to economics have an ability to render their audience angry or bored, or both when mentioned in the media. ‘Economics’ is a harbinger of doom – a real ‘Brexit’ of its time, utterances of it immediately conjure up thoughts of dole queues, austerity and overdrawing credit cards with pints of Tuborg on Sunday nights. Ok, that last one wasn’t so bad, but still.

But I digress. Because the good thing about perceived statuses or supposed institutions is that they don’t really exist if you don’t subscribe to them. Now don’t get me wrong, if I’d have been in the boozer when the recession-era government were scooping with the troika I’d likely be barred for life – but once you’re plonked into one of the snugs in here with a pint of plain in front of you, you can allow the pub to be whatever you want.

For us, we want to allow to be a Victorian gem, and indeed it is. Listed in Kevin C Kearns’ ‘Dublin Pub Life and Lore’ as being one of Dublin’s original Victorian pubs, the pub is said to be trading since the 1840s. Its interior is satisfactorily reminiscent of other such pubs – the front section being narrow and split by towering ornate carved dividers. Containing no less than three medium-sized snugs, the pub affords multitudes of space for covert conversation while mirrors branded with the name of beer and whiskey companies, old and new, are plentiful throughout the ground floor, maybe more so than any other Dublin pub.  These make the pub a far brighter affair than its dark wooden fixtures would normally allow. Beyond the front (and presumably original) bar, the space opens up at the back, lighter woods, higher ceilings and natural light bring an airier feel compared to the front bar. We noticed some painted bodhráns depicting other pubs in the Mangan group which we agreed was a nice touch.

Interiors aside, we also need to mention the exterior which is beautifully kept. A traditionally hand painted sign is always better than a fabricated one and this particular sign is up there amongst the best. The pint is good but, in our opinion, does suffer from being so close to Toner’s which offers one of the best scoops in the city. Prices are a bit of an issue too (as is the case in most pubs up around here) – Christine Le Garde will have no issue picking up the tab after an evening of lowering porter into herself, but more meagrely waged persons such as ourselves and yourselves will need to keep an eye on the bank balance and hope that pubs of this ilk could adopt The Gravediggers’ attitude of pricing domestic-produced libations in a manner proportional to miles travelled.

You will enjoy a pint in here, especially with that added comfort of history that you get from older pubs. And if you’re looking for somewhere where you can safely bandy about phrases like ‘blue-shirt’, ‘brown-enveloper’ and ‘tribunal-fiend’ while sipping on a pint, look no further.

What is it about these places and karaoke?

Such was the question that I posed to Pintman №2 as we took our first tentative sups in The Dominick Inn. He attempted a response but found himself interrupted by the howls of a rotund wrinkled grandmother pitching noisily across the room. This interruption led me to become transfixed by the woman’s jewellery – generations of it, gold and cheap looking – hanging from her sweaty frame, it tended to reverberate in a more and more hypnotic manner with every thunderous stomp she made in her enthusiastic yet poor attempt to emulate Tina Turner. “I couldn’t tell ya”, Pintman №2 finally responded – having timed his response to the verses of the song.

By ‘these places’, we refer to boozers that are a bit rough around the edges – a statement we make without judgement – because pubs like this one are usually just normal community boozers – we’re well aware of that. These sort of pubs have no frills and no gimmicks, but are, undeniably, also that bit coarser in décor and atmosphere than most others we normally tend to write about.

The thing is though, we’re quite fond of pubs of this ilk – the drink tends to be cheap, the characters plentiful and the opportunities to send Pintman №3 up to deliver his famed Elvis impersonation are many. In his absence this time around, we’d come to discuss as to whether our ease in these type of pubs is a direct attribute afforded to us from having spent more time than we care to admit drinking into the wee hours in Northside Shopping Centre’s former premiere after-hours spot – The Blacker (aka Liz Delaney’s aka Dusk aka Club Hamunaptra). It was in this sawdust peppered den of iniquity that we served our time and developed the requisite skill-set for conducting oneself in establishments of such notoriety. Some even served tougher apprenticeships than others – with one of the troupe being spontaneously put into a state of semi-consciousness via the means of a choke-hold one evening. His crime? Whispering sweet nothings into the ear of a young lady who, as it turned out, was probably not single after all.

Now we can’t promise it, but we’d be confident enough that you won’t be choked out in the Dominick Inn.

Regarding the interior of the pub, there wasn’t a whole lot to write home about. The seating and tables comprised of traditional stuff mixed in with the odd sofa here and there – the arrangement of these was somewhat haphazard. The physical bar itself was noted as being a nicely crafted bit of woodwork but was at odds with the rest of the room’s sterile aesthetic with the hard flooring and flashing LED lights making for an uncomfortable sensory experience overall.

While the senses of sight and sound mightn’t have been well served on this occasion, we can gladly report that the sense of taste didn’t fair too badly from the experience. The pint, which was priced south of the €5 mark, was a good one and deemed to be of a high standard by all around the table at the time.

And so it was as the wailing tone-deaf strains of a merry youngone attempting her best ‘Maniac 2000’ rang out through the pub we glanced at one another and decided that we’d leave the second round for another time.

You won’t find The Dominick Inn in any guide books any time soon, but that’s ok. The locals enjoy it and so did we. And you should look not one millimetre further if you’re after a few decent pints in unpretentious surroundings that won’t break the bank or even if you just want to knock out a few bars of ‘Killing Me Softly’.

Mainly for the fear of joining that easily-offended, ever-moaning subset of the public who believe in the one true lord and saviour – Joe Duffy, we decided we wouldn’t. But when we first visited T O’Brennan’s we had considered lodging a complaint about some of their signage with the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland.

If you ever find yourself in or around the area within which this pub is situated, we strongly urge you to go and check it out – Its renovated facade is a thing of wonder. Harkening back to humbler times, its perfectly-rejuvenated red brick and carefully restored signage really is a feast for the eyes, especially when you consider how the building looked only a few years ago (pictured, cr: Google).

 

When we approached T O’Brennan’s for the first time with the intention of entering and having a drink, we were feeling all the better of about four or five pints of your ordinary, run of the mill, nitrogenated, Dublin brewed, draught-stout. And having found ourselves in this particular drinking rhythm – our intention, though unspoken at the time, was to carry on consuming this very same beverage. So when we drew closer to the pub and observed a large oval-shaped sign bearing the brand name of our preferred purveyor of stout, we figured that we had no cause to suspect that we would encounter any interruption to the drinking pattern we had established on this sunny summer’s evening. But when we came to order a few pints here, suffice it to say that we were a little disappointed.

The sign which we mention above (pictured, cr: Google) is placed upon the west-facing end of the building at ground level and is one which replicates an old Guinness bottle label. Prior to the 1960s, it was common practice for Guinness to be bottled by the seller rather than the brewer – bottles which would be kept and reused in-house would be adorned with labels supplied to the publican by Guinness, these would generally include the name of the pub, or its owner, or both.

Thinking about the sign in the last while, we’d thought that maybe the new owners had revived a name which was previously attributed to the pub and that the sign depicted one of these old labels. After a bit of digging, we found that the building was in use as a public house during the ‘bottling era’ but couldn’t seem to come across anything mentioning the current name. Then we struck gold. We found an image of an actual label used by the publican, Patrick Leavey, who was the man behind the taps in the pub way back when. And wouldn’t it be fitting enough that we found it on The Beer Nut’s Twitter feed, The Beer Nut is an extremely knowledgeable beer blogger (check out the blog here!) whom we once had the pleasure of having a few pints with… inside the walls of St. James’ Gate! We’ve shamelessly knicked the image in question (pictured), and we’re pretty satisfied that this is the one that the sign is likely based upon.

When we finally did temper our expectations for what we could drink in here and decided against making a complaint to the ASAI we opted for two pints of Porterhouse stout. Pintman №2, a man whose tongue’s ability for mockery and mimicry far outweighs its capacity for discerning the flavour profiles of malt or roasted barley, denounced his beverage as being too ‘coffee-ish’ – a complaint he makes about every craft stout he encounters. I eventually came around to enjoy the drink after my taste-buds managed to acclimatise themselves.

A small one-roomed pub, T O’Brennan’s is easily the cosiest of any craft beer pub we’ve set foot in. Its use of more traditional pub furniture sets it apart from its contemporary craft beer houses, which tend to favour furniture rooted in aesthetic over comfort each time. The decor is most certainly craft-beer centric with metal signs depicting a wide array of breweries taking up much of the wall-space, these were noted as having been effected in a more mindful manner than that of other such pubs around town. Navy blue upholstery blends nicely with the dark wooden bar and floors, while white and blue upon the top and the bottom half of the walls lightens the space well. The drink, as one would expect from a craft beer boozer, is varied and plentiful. There also seemed to be a good variety of the stronger stuff on the back of the bar, most noticeable being the gin.

On this visit, we just had the one pint and thumbed through a few books with photos of old Dublin which we found on the shelves behind us. As I perused the black and white images of poorer people of yore, I came to contextualise my first world problems with reference to the deprivation that was once commonplace in the tenements of Dublin and indeed Dominick Street. So I threw another mouthful back and listened to the bells of the passing tram wane, and as a warm summer’s breeze swept through the pub I felt contented with my lot – so much so that I turned to Pintman №2 and said – ‘It’s not so bad is it?’

– ‘It’s too coffee-ish’, he replied.

– ‘Not the gargle!! Life!’

– ‘Life!?” he wondered, ‘what are you after??’

– ‘Nevermind’

I’ll certainly darken the door of T O Brennan’s again. Pintman №2, on the other hand, might take a bit of convincing.