Once upon a December “morning” we were seeking the cure from the previous night’s damage, having mustered up just enough adrenalin to dress and wash we caught a train toward town and set out to find a suitable boozer. Adding urgency to this quest was December’s icy bite which was penetrating our layers with ease. Having disembarked at Pearse station we, for reasons forgotten now, forewent the standard procedure of ducking into the first pub that met our eyeline. Standing on a traffic island at the top of Westland Row we found ourselves met with two clichéd choices: left or right. Upon this occasion, we chose left and happened upon The Ginger Man which beaconed upon December’s dreary dusk as if a hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard.

​The Ginger Man: Fenian St.

Now, The Gingerman is a fine spot all year round, but Christmas time is when this pub is at its best. Festooned in more sparkling bric-a-brack than you could shake a Christmas tree at the pub is a treat to any festive set of eyes. Each Christmas sees the ceiling affixed with a forest of twigs which act as a frame to support the hanging of baubles, fairy lights, mistletoe, angels, stars and anything else of the festive variety you can think of.

The pub – a namesake of J. P. Donleavy’s magnum opus, is said to be a favourite spot of another famous Gingerman: one Enda Kenny – something we won’t hold against them. It’s an interestingly put-together pub insofar that one of the most identifying features visitors are met with is gothic wooden panelling which sits on the back wall of the bar. The bar itself is curved along its span giving it an interesting edge (pun intentional). The seating is standard stuff, with small stools with built-in benching which warrants no complaints. The pint is great, a few very creamy scoops were imbibed upon a recent visit which was in keeping with the memory of prior pints. There’s a good mix of craft stuff and more mainstream brews on the go too, they even do a few house beers too.

We’re quite fond of the gingerman overall. It’s a dependable shop for a decent pint and a definite must for a few cosy Christmas pints when the time comes around.

When we arrived at Walsh’s we were at the tail end of a crawl and were merry enough from the pints. Being a weekend evening, the bar was busy enough. The sun was low in the sky and beamed in through the windows intensifying the iridescence of the golden liquors bottled behind the bar. We made for the back of the bar and cosied into a section to savour the last moments before the deluge of pints began to take a more incapacitating hold.

Walsh’s: Stoneybatter

The pub itself is pristine. Dark panelled wood along the bottom of the walls is balanced nicely with a beige tone on the upper half. There’s a tasty little snug just beyond the threshold which sits before the start of the bar.

The décor is standard. Various team photos accompany old cigarette, beer and whiskey ads along the wall, the further side of the bar houses a US mail letter box for reasons unbeknownst to us. This side of the bar also boasts a toasty-looking fireplace which certainly warrants a subsequent winter visit as far as I’m concerned.

The pint was of a high standard and the staff were attentive and competent overall. And although we’d had an enjoyable couple of scoops there during our stay, I couldn’t help but think to myself that I’d appreciate a pub like this more so during the colder parts of the year. Nonetheless, we’d certainly give Walsh’s the DBP thumbs up and personally I’m looking forward to dropping in again… with a bit of a clearer head.

We were fairly taken with the whole pintman thing when it took off on the net earlier during the year. It shone a light on a culture we’d been in the middle of for years. It had it all: pints, pubs, and more pints, what more could one ask for?

Unfortunately brand pintman slowly but surely became a victim of its own success and the author finds nowadays that your average Facebook “pintman” is a techy seventeen-year-old who can barely hold a few bottles of Smirnoff ice in some midland English Wetherspoons, let alone keep a feed of stout down in a Dublin boozer.

Hyne’s: Prussia St.

Let it not be said that we’re sad that it’s over be rather we’re happy that it happenedand and just as Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris – We’ll always have Hynes, Paddy.

Hyne’s became somewhat of an overnight drinking mecca due to the popularity of the aforementioned pintman craze. Said to be the main man Paddy Losty’s local the pub is now enshrined in the landscape of famous Dublin boozers. Of course, we had to go and have a look.

Entering the bar on a sunny afternoon we sat at the end of the bar and were greeted by the barman who took our order and asked us if we wanted the use of the telly. He put on the match for us and returned us a few top-notch pints.

The long bar boasts a fair amount of exposed red brick which the majority of us agreed was pleasing to the eye. Our table was a repurposed Singer sewing table which was a taking point also. The place was nicely lit given that the sun was beaming from the door straight through the length of the bar. One of the lads reckoned it was a bit spiritual “like newgrange and tha” but that was probably just the pints kicking in.

The locals were good craic and Paddy’s legacy was well protected with the amount of pints being put away by some of them. All in all Hyne’s is a solid shop. Great pint, great staff and sound locals. Well worth a look.

Recently we were pinting of a weekend in Stoneybatter and took in Hanlon’s (amongst others). We arrived mid-afternoon, still a touch tender from the previous night’s shenanigans.

We settled in the bar which ticked all the proverbial aesthetic boxes – it being sectioned by dark woodwork which contrasted well with a lighter mosaic tiling underfoot. Panoramic windows left older patrons’ eyes unstrained in the reading of their papers as they propped up against a bar which runs along the space in harmony with the shape of the building. Sitting at this bar one could gaze in appreciation of an antique register behind it; whilst another could look beyond it and muse over a clay head that was either a toddler’s art homework or a medical study of the woes of elephantiasis.

Hanlon’s: Hanlon’s Corner

The pint was grand; drinkable and well under a fiver. We ordered a cordial at no charge too which deserves an honourable mention. The locals were of good character, I’d a bit of an earwig on a few lads debating over what year Dublin Bus introduced power steering and it was like listening to some sort of unearthed Sean O Casey text.

About halfway through our jars, an elder local who happened to be garbed entirely in golfing gear arrived and duly ordered a pint. Having settled beside us we noticed that he was scoping us out a bit. Upon a lull in our chat, he sensed his opening and interjected by thrusting a finger toward one of our pints and merrily asked “What’s that?” A bit taken aback one of us responded “That’s a lovely big pint is what that is”. Unsatisfied with our answer he replied asking “Dyis wanna know what that is?” “G’wan” we answered. He paused before finally answering “That’s a cappuccino!” he proudly exclaimed. “A cappuccino, that what that is” he suffixed in the midst of our bemused laughter.

He went on to regale us with tales of his golfing career to date all while ignoring the seven or so questions we asked about how his game had gone that day. As we polished the dregs of our jars and made for the exit the encounter was made all the more strange as our golfing buddy requested one of the lads to sit on his lap. He politely declined.

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 the 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 towards 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 lookout 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 reasonably 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 phone call 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 with 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. Like 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 on 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 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 into 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 tourists 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 sat fairly close 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 who 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.

(Update 2023: The neighbours we gave a bit of shade to in this post when originally published, are long gone. All the neighbouring pubs are now sound!)

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).