It was one of them poxy November evenings where the depression onset from daylight savings’ early darkness had begun to set in. The rain was pissing out of the heavens and train was rammed. A pint was in order. As I drew closer to town I fumbled amongst the crush to retrieve my phone and made a call to Pintman №2, inquiring after the progress he himself was making into town. “Still in poxy work!” says he. “Bollix to that” says I.” Grab a spot somewhere and I’ll follow ya in sure” says he. “Grand” says I.

The Swan: Aungier St.

So after disembarking I wander up Westland Row and head toward the Grafton St. area. A quick bit of sustenance and I’m on the look out for a pub only to make the unfortunate realisation that everywhere is jammed with the only thing worse than the Christmas party crowd: The early Christmas party crowd. All of them carefully gowned in their illuminated woolly jumpers and fluffy red hats.

In the midst of my frantic dash around the South City Centre trying to find any boozer with a spare spot and a lingering degree of cosiness, I find myself pushing ever so further out of the city. And then as I wander around by the back of the College of Surgeons, it comes to me. The Swan! Of course! Up to the swan I hastily traipse to find the place reasonable populated and with enough spare seats to lighten my mood. No sooner have I placed my sopping coat on a high stool do I have a good pint of plain in my hand and all is okay once again.

The Swan as it turned out was the best possible pub to arrive into from a rainy November night. Another Victorian gem with all the furniture and fixings one should expect from a Victorian spot. A marble bar runs the length and is nicely complimented by the mosaic tiling on the floor. Another essential visit for seekers of authentic historic Dublin Pubs.

Content again I make another phonecall to Pintman №2 who is less than impressed having found himself on a stationary train. “Why is it stuck?” says I. “There’s a swan on the tracks at Landsdowne” says he. “Jaysis” says I. “Where did ye settle in the end” says he. “The Swan” says I. “Fuck off” says he.

A stone’s throw away from the relentless footfall of shoppers and buskers alike, beyond the haze of pollen that recedes to reveal the bronzed likeness of a rockstar smiling there sits a pub which purports itself to be established in 1779. The pub’s oversized frontage engulfs any passer’s view with its navy blue façade trimmed in deep red. Its painted sign simply reads: McDaids.

McDaids: Harry St.

There’s no getting away from the literary heritage of this pub – which was a haunt of many of Irelands’ famous post-war writers. Patrick Kavanagh could be found here coaxing large drinks out of generous admirers by referring to his order as a “ball of malt” rather than a double whiskey. The walls of the pub serve as an instant reminder of the above – they being littered in portraits of these famous former locals.

The interior of the pub, as it appeared on a sunny early midweek afternoon is striking. The large windows to the front of the pub along with the mirrors inside afford it a great deal of illumination while the smaller stained glass windows play with the colour of the light in just the right proportions. Alike many of its contemporary locations; dark wood is the foremost building material utilised in the interior of the pub. What sets the place apart, however, is the use of green tiling upon the wood, which serves to brighten up the darkening effect of the wood. The walls are decorated with the usual pub hangings along with all the writer’s portraits.

The pint was good. Not into the superior grade of creaminess but certainly drinkable. What was harder to swallow was the price. We’re definitely beginning to see a trend in this part of D2 which is a terrible shame to be entirely honest. You’ll always need more than a fiver for a jar around here it seems. Other than the price the only other gripe is the jaxx. The trek up the stairs is somewhat annoying and trickily treacherous after a good lock of jars.

McDaid’s is another icon of Dublin’s drinking topography, a great looking boozer and in the heart of the city. It’d be rude not to drop in once in a while.

The Celt is an odd one, although it’s not to the best of the author’s knowledge advertised, marketed or described as a tourist bar it somehow is. Now, when we say tourist bar we’re not in this instance likening it to some of the purveyors of extortionately priced paddywhackery in Temple Bar but anytime we’ve been in there has always been a healthy abundance of tourists tucking into stews or plates of cabbage alike.

The Celt: Talbot St.

The décor here is fairly traditional, it’s not the most polished of spaces but its roughness supplements its charm. The standard old Irish pub paraphernalia makes up the decoration with whiskey jugs and black and white portraits all around. Threadbare wood and red slate flooring set the visual tone of the pub which is well set out for a small enough room.

We’ve been in a few times, one of which was in the midst of a crawl where we arrived in to a bit of music which melded nicely into the background. The pint was decent enough and was drank without complaint. There was a decent mix of locals and tourist and the vibe was friendly with a touch of strange given that there was a Japanese warrior (whom some of us recognized as a busker from Grafton St.) at the bar having a pint.

On the whole we can’t fault The Celt too much. It’s the good type of tourist pub and the type we’d recommend over those money grabbing bastards in Temple Bar any day.

Bar Rua is a fairly uniquely faceted bar. Its modern architectural form stands out amidst its comparatively mundane neighbours and beckons curious visitors to pass its threshold.

Bar Rua: Clarerndon Street.

We found its interior to be well put together, the lines are crisp and clear and the vibrant hues of wood are well integrated into the space reminding visitors of more traditional bars. The seating en-masse is arranged well and doesn’t come across as being obtrusive with regard to the craic.

The drink is a mixture of standard diageo fare and a good few craft options. We called for two pints of plain and sat upstairs. Upon ascension, we settled along a ledge and faced out a window which proved to be a great aid to the grand ‘ol tradition of people-watching. The bar was lightly packed and we were sat fairly closely to a drab looking party which we suspected to be a Fair City Stag.

Now, we should probably define the aforementioned term: Fair City Stag. This is a piece of language coined by Pintman #2 which has found its way into our vernacular. It relates to a stag (or bachelor) party that any viewer of Fair City or any other such soap opera will be familiar with. The storyline itself is a cliché – the local Romeo has been snared by some girl next door type and is headed for matrimonial bliss. But before an exchange of vows can occur, the character’s last night as a single man must be observed. This requires a ‘gang of lads’ and invariably all the men from the fictional town in the suitable age bracket are rounded up for a night of debauchery and devilment. Will they go to Liverpool? Or maybe Ibiza? Or even Galway? No, no… these men whom have otherwise plotted and schemed against one another for their entire lives are off to the same local pub that they frequent every other day, bound in faux ties of fraternal kinship.

After knocking the bit of craic out of the lads and finishing two lacklustre and overpriced pints we were to move on to pastures anew. Bar Rua has serious potential, it’s well laid out and toes the line between traditional and modern with ease. If they could only improve the quality of the Guinness and lower its price we’d be onto a winner

EDIT: We recently returned to Bar Rua and are happy to say we had a great pint of plain. Also, this post probably began our crusade on denouncing the overpricing of Guinness in town. We haven’t rolled back on that crusade but should probably offer a side note that we haven’t been as harsh on other establishments about price as we are on Bar Rua here.

There was a while after this pub opened when people would inquire after us as to whether we had been in The Black Sheep. Coyly we’d respond that we had, not before blaming our attendance there on the fatal combination of excessive pints and limited options. Only around the fifth time, we were asked this did we come to realise that the folk questioning us were referring to a newly opened craft beer house on Capel St. In our naivety we believed they’d been referring to Northside Shopping Centre’s infamous sawdust-littered nightclub which was known as The Blacker, a name derived from the original name of the pub it sat upon: The Black Sheep. We could write a novel’s worth of material on The Blacker but we’ll leave that for now.

The Black Sheep: Capel St.

The Black Sheep is another of The Galway Bay Brewery’s premises in the country’s capital. It adheres to your standard craft beer bar design specs with all the usual brewery posters, flags and fixings. The seating, the majority of which was comprised of large kitchen tables and mismatched chairs was more gastro than it was pub and wasn’t really to our liking. We opted for a few high stools along a ledge which we found a fair bit more conducive to decent chat. One design feature we were, however, quite fond of was a technicolour image of Fr. Ted & Dougal’s Lovely horse which was housed in a fantastically tacky gold frame.

The assortment of beer available is unrivalled in its variance and GBB is consistent insofar that their staff here are as helpful and knowledgeable as their colleagues in the other GBB bars across the city. They’ll be sure to land you with a jar that’s to your liking.

All in all The Black Sheep is a solid craft beer house, a thousand times better than its nearest Capel St craft beer neighbour and well recommended to those in search of crafty options on the northside of the city centre.

Previously here, we’ve spoken of pubs which had been fitted out in a manner to make them appear old and worn. The manner we’ve spoken of these places has to memory not been of the most complementary nature and the word gimmicky may have been thrown about. Brogan’s of Dame St. is at no risk of being labelled similarly.

Brogan’s: Dame St.

Brogan’s, sitting in near approximation to the much-beloved Olympia Theatre is a pub which is naturally weathered and worn. The seldom varnished wooden floor and furnishings add to the authentic aged feel to the pub. This atmosphere is compounded in no small part by what has to be the city’s largest collection of old Guinness adverts to be found outside St James’ Gate. These adverts cover all conceivable wall space within the bar. A bookshelf sits at the beginning of the bar adding a homely element. The seating is unassuming and traditional.

With regard to the gargle, one certainly expects a fairly decent pint when such a plethora of Guinness artwork is encountered and we can gladly report that Brogan’s delivers on said expectation. We’ve always found the pint to not only be well-priced given the temple bar proximity factor (TBPF, a self-proclaimed mathematical/economical constant we’ve just decided to define this minute, formula to follow) but also to be of a high standard taste-wise too.

We’ve no anecdotes of note to recall at this moment, unfortunately. The last time we were in was for a quick pre-Christmas Shopping pint and the cosiness was such that we weren’t to emerge for a further 6 hours after the shops had shut and not a present in sight. We’d certainly recommend Brogan’s, it’s yer only man for a pint before an Olympia gig and not a bad spot for a Christmas pint either (just get the shopping done first)

Much had been said to me over the years about Cleary’s, it being an old haunt of Michael Collins. More recently to this visit someone told me of their sojourn here and how it contained a level of violence that the big fella himself would be familiar with.

J.& M. Cleary’s – Amiens St.

With this disincentive foremost in my head, I reminded Pintman Nº2 upon our approach that we should harden up. Agreeing, he inspected our attire and whether it was appropriate for a hard inner city boozer. Immediately we agreed that he, being garbed in dirty building-site clobber, fitted the bill perfectly. Me on the other hand – not so much. It would happen to be on this day that I’d decided to premier a Simpsons t-shirt I’d been gifted which was as red as the pub’s signage. We entered with my jacket well zipped and our shoulders thrown back.

Arriving into the bright narrow bar we encountered none of the hostility we’d expected. The length of the pub is segmented with wooden partitions and the long bar is complimented with seating running opposite. Sitting at the bar we ordered two great pints.

After the first sup all of our discussion on the way in was forgotten and my jacket was off, revealing the ridiculous t-shirt. The barman, returning to our end of the bar soon clocked the shirt and issued a much unexpected compliment. He then glanced down to notice Pintman #2’s battered Star Wars keyring on the bar and the two struck up a conversation on the franchise’s recent release. Uninterested, I took a wander around to admire the portraits of Michael Collins which hung proudly on the walls.

Returning, I found the two still immersed in chat which was to be broken when the barman’s phone rang. His ringtone? – A Star Wars Theme, of course. In the interim of the call we’d finished our jar and the barman returned to service. We bade him a farewell as we exited and his retort to us is one I won’t forget.

– Seeya lads. Oh and may the force be with you.

I kept the head down and expedited my exit.

Don’t base opinions on word of mouth! Far from being the hardened inner city ale-house – Cleary’s is a welcoming pub where discussion on intergalactic wars is as welcome as speak on wars of independence.

Most of the time we aim for tactfulness here on DublinByPub, but other times you need to just tell things as they are. The Snug on Stephen Street is a mad kip! This is a boozer we’ve been in a couple of times over the years and we’ve never left without one story or another.

Take our first visit for example – during the summer a good five or so years ago a small enough group of us decided that it was about time we gave this pub a try. Shimmying past the cluster of smokers stationed upon the threshold – we burst through a literal smokescreen to be greeted by the turning of every single head in the room, an unnerving enough prospect at the time.

The Snug: Stephen Street

Once inside and with most gazes refocussed away once again patrons will begin to take in the look and feel of the pub. Well illuminated space furnished in similarly bright wooden tones provide the look of the pub and tend to pronounce shabbier elements of the room. Hastily hung posters advertising cheap lager provide the feel.

So given that this boozer isn’t exactly an ornate feast for the eyes you might wonder if it has any redeeming charm, and we would have to argue that it does. Victorian cornices and Edwardian wood carvings are fine and enjoyable but none are as entertaining as the locals in The Snug. Roughly attired and roughly voiced – they could easily be described as on the more rambunctious side of boisterous. Occupying the entire front end of the pub they had a day’s drinking under their belt when we arrived on this particular occasion.

Once we’d ordered and settled in with some seriously cheap pints (honestly these are about the cheapest in Dublin City Centre) we managed to catch the attention of one of the more vocal of the regulars. Standing to attention he noisily enquired as to whether we would like to buy any drugs, a question which was met with a cacophony of laughter from the front of the bar.

With full assurance that he was only winding us up given, he then came to join us whereupon he took a shine to one of our gang. Berating us for allowing a “lovely girl like that” to buy her own drink he beckoned the young barman who appeared from behind the bar for a moment only to disappear. Seeing this, our new pal explained to us that the barman had returned to retrieve the key from the register and proudly exclaimed: “I’ve robbed this place loads of times”. Reappearing, the barman took an order from our new mate who returned to the front of the pub only to arrive back to the table with a pint for the ‘lovely girl’. He was to send on two full pints for our pal who caught his eye, being nervous of the situation she decided against drinking them. Yours truly made sure they weren’t to go to waste.

We’d stop short of visiting here frequently ourselves. But we’ll certainly drop in once or twice again, if only for the stories…. and the cheap pints

The Long Hall is an institution. Its candy cane flourished façade serves as an instantly recognizable beacon to even the most poorly-sighted of drinkers while conversely taunting and teasing thirsty commuters awaiting the bus across the road. Recently it was awarded the title of Dublin’s best pub, an accolade it holds alongside the honour of being 251 years old.

The Long Hall: George’s Street

Sitting on that illusive part of George’s St where it transforms into Aungier St, The Long Hall is another exemplary snapshot of Victorian pub architecture – carpeted and painted in that shade of wine that was obviously going cheap back in the 1800s the pub will be a familiar sight to anyone who has set foot in any contemporary Victorian premises in the capital. Ornate woodwork and sepia toned portraits adorn the walls along with muskets and other such Victorian relics. The divine glimmering of glorious liquor behind the bar is emphasised by the installation of small tiled mirroring along the structural features of the woodwork.

It’s a very characterful pub and for all its Victorian charm, it’s not without some rock and roll credentials too – Phil Lynott sat forlornly at the bar of this pub in the video for his song ‘Old Town’. It’s also a well-known fact that Bruce Springsteen rarely visits our shores without dropping in for a pint.

For all the pros relating to The Long Hall there is unfortunately a con which we can’t overlook. The price of the pint. The sinking feeling that comes with receiving less change than expected is one I’m sure The Boss doesn’t have to concern himself with, but unfortunately us mere mortals aren’t afforded that particular luxury. Returning to the table I quietly whispered to myself that this ought to be the best pint I’d ever had… It was.

The Long Hall is a picture perfect example of the Dublin Pub and is not to be ignored by anyone seeking to experience a true representation of this city’s pub culture.

Sometimes when we get to talking on the defining parameters that make a pub a pub we can get very particular on details. The one thing that we do agree upon is that we disagree on a great many points – slightly on some and heavily upon others. Having said that, we should say that we sometimes do get to exhaust the fumes of white smoke now and again, one such consensus we have managed to arrive at relates to a rule on hotel bars – namely that a hotel bar is not a pub!

Lannigan’s: Eden Quay

It’s our argument that the vibe exuded in your bog standard hotel bar is a good light-year or two away from that one should expect in any self-respecting pub. This is due in no small part to the lighting, the seating and often the prices too. Hotel bar etiquette is often a far more formal experience than that of the pub wherein you might find yourself wondering whether to order at the bar or at your table while subconsciously watching your Ps and Qs too. Put simply – we’d rather be in the pub.

But as sure as all hotels have housekeepers who couldn’t give a toss about your hangover, all rules have their exceptions – which brings us nicely along to Lannigan’s.

Situated within the boundaries of the Clifton Court Hotel on Eden Quay – Lannigan’s has grown on us over the years. To say it has a few quirky bits and pieces upon the walls would be the grossest of understatements. Every conceivable piece of wall space in the bar has been plastered with knick-knacks and trinketry, so much so that visitors could easily spend their entire stay in the pub conversing solely about the paraphernalia littered around the walls.

Lit well, the pub is somewhat narrow and opens up toward the back. The pint has never steered us wrong and the staff are suitably proficient and pleasant in their pouring of said pint. The crowd is a good mix – you’ll find locals, tourists, afterworkers and actor’s alike. It’s also the place to bring that person in your life who is partial to an episode or two of Fair City now and again – we tend to see one or another of their cast any time that we call in.

A great pub, this – an exception to our own rules around bars in hotels and a convenient location for thirsty northbound commuters.