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.

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 which waged a fully-fledged assault on even the most insensitive of olfactory setups.

Molloy’s: Talbot St.>

Having entered Molloy’s of 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 to light 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 bar fly 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 too. 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 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.