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 to the surrounding area 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 at 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 speaking 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.

The Snug

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.

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 provides the look of the pub and tends to pronounce shabbier elements of the room. Hasti

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 at 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 about 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 Street where it transforms into Aungier Street, 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, we 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 about 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, which 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 on 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 actors 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.

Recently we heard that Molloy’s, which we thought had closed down, had reopened following a renovation. We were passing by not so long ago and figured we’d drop in to check out the handy work. Truth be told, we hadn’t been in for quite a while – having remembered the bar as a well-weathered rough house that contained a gents toilet, which waged a fully-fledged assault on even the most insensitive of olfactory setups.


Having entered Molloy’s on a midweek evening we could gladly report that the only aroma to caress the nostrils was a sweet perfume of timber and varnish. The refurbishment is of the best possible kind; there’s no trendy modern architectural wank going on, the pub has simply been returned to its former glory. The dust is gone, the wood polished and the fixtures glossy once again.

A medium-sized snug sits at the end of the bar which itself is beautifully put together in Victorian-style woodwork that frames a clock and mirroring along the back. Large older whiskey mirrors throughout the pub aid in lighting space effectively. We found it to be a cracking-looking pub, and the WC was in a far superior state than I’d remembered it.

Pint-wise, everything was spot on – creamy, well-poured and a tulip glass as the vessel. Being thorough I sank a few to verify the first wasn’t a fluke. The staff are a good bunch. Their rapport with the locals heightens the homely atmosphere of the pub and doesn’t at all detract from them competently carrying out their duties. Speaking of bartenders’ duties, one of the less glamourous was to be called upon when a local boozehound, not content with the skinful he’d clearly already consumed attempted an entrance that wasn’t half as discreet as he thought. Taking notice of this, the barwoman was straight out to dispatch the man. After he’d endured a deserved four minutes of the stern sort of rollicking a mother might lay upon a misbehaving five-year-old, the seventy-plus man was out the door. The Barwoman bid him a farewell in a tone wildly contrasting with that she had just thrown him out with and insisted that he mind himself and that she’d see him tomorrow.

Molloy’s is back on the map! We’ll definitely be back in soon. Make sure you are too.

As I sit here and try to think of something to write about The Oval on Middle Abbey St. I can’t help but think that writing about this pub is akin to writing about a first love. With that in mind, I can only request that you bear with me as I try to avoid the type of over-sentimental tack that adolescent first-love poetry is laden with. Allow me to start by saying that The Oval is one that served as a welcome venue to the young trainee pintman who was inexperienced in the processes that he needed to master in order to become a fully-fledged barfly unintimidated by any pub he should venture into.

The Oval: Middle Abbey St.

Sitting just off O Connell Street on Middle Abbey Street, The Oval is your classic city centre pub (narrow and opening up to the rear). It’s decorated in comforting hues of burgundy complimented with characterful mahogany. A smiling portrait of Ronnie Drew is hung from the underside of the staircase welcoming all punters in for a few scoops. The fixings and fittings are well-polished and thoughtfully installed throughout. All in all it’s a great-looking bar.

A building steeped in much history, it has been in use continuously as a pub since 1822, barring a closure for a few unexpected renovations after the 1916 rising. The pub has withstood famine, war and independence, It’s even said that John Lennon and Ringo Starr nipped in for a pint after their famed performance in The Adelphi Cinema across the road.

The Oval’s central location makes it an idyllic meeting point. It’s a perfect precursor to a bigger night out but also a great spot for a session in its own right. The pint is creamy and nicely priced, the staff are competent and just generally sound out. The pub also offers a food menu if you’re after that sort of thing. They do a cracking hot whiskey with none of the hesitation or indifference other pubs might greet a request for such a drink with. I particularly love to dodge in here and catch the 1 o’clock news over a sneaky pint if circumstances allow.

We were in for a few pints last December and sat at the bar beside two older gents with whom we engaged in a bit of chat. After a few pints one of the lads (who was drinking lemonade) divulged to us that his choice of drink was due to the fact that he was a card-carrying pioneer and hadn’t touched a drop of the demon drink in forty-something years. Wondering how he got his kicks, we duly enquired- “Dancing” he responded.

I don’t really want to go 40 years without a jar, but I certainly hope I can move like that aulfella when I’m 70. The Oval is a necessary visit for any pub pilgrim and is most definitely in the author’s top five pubs in Dublin City.