The Palace Bar: Fleet St.

Amongst the wooden Victorian grandeur of the bar fitted in The Palace on Dublin’s Fleet Street there sits a glass case that houses the bust of a stern and sullen faced man surrounded by a number of aged and rare looking bottles of liquor. On the glass cover of this cabinet a sign reads: “A bird is known by its song, a man by his conversation.” The sign which sits behind a bar that has hosted conversations since 1848 is one that we would argue is well placed.

One of the jewels in the crown of Dublin’s landscape of Victorian heritage, The Palace is a pub that fits snugly into the “what can we say that hasn’t already been said” bracket of boozers. Known for its links to the fields of literature and journalism it’s a bar where the images of famous figures that adorn its walls are not mere lip service to an established aesthetic but are actual portraits of former patrons. Having been described as a “most wonderful temple of art” by Patrick Kavanagh way back when – and sitting upon the fringe of the tourist district of temple bar, the pub could definitely be described as a gem, but most certainly not a hidden one.

On occasion, we’ve referred to this boozer as being, from our perspective, a victim of its own popularity – the occasion usually being weekend nights when we couldn’t get in the door, but this is no negative critique. When we’re in here it’s usually at an earlier hour and when the pub can be admired in its full glory. Brandishing all the hallmarks of a Victorian city pub it proudly contains a small snug at the front of the space complete with access to the bar. The bar itself runs the length of the narrow pub’s main space being segmented every few metres with wooden dividers. Alike many other aged pubs in town – it then opens up toward the back allowing the room for lower seating and is illuminated by a large skylight above.

The pint here is up with the best pours in the city, we’ve yet to even encounter a mediocre one upon any visit we’ve had. There’s a hefty emphasis placed on whiskey here too, the pub having their own name brand of whiskey for sale amidst their otherwise impressive collection. We’d also have to give an honourable mention to the whiskey bar upstairs in the pub which is a fierce cosy little enclave to enjoy a dram in.

The Palace Bar is one of a number of pubs in the country that could be not be described without reference to Dublin. It is a pub that is idiosyncratic of the capital city of this country and is another bar that is a living example of why pub architecture should be preserved and maintained rather than being bulldozed to make way for trendy fit-outs. We’d only be too happy to recommend anyone to give it a try, just be sure to get in before the crowds.

Madigan’s : Abbey St.

We get some odd correspondence from time to time here at Dublin By Pub – as the community of people that follow us has grown on Instagram so too has the volume of stuff that comes into our inbox. Most of what we receive is quite positive – we’re always delighted to talk shop with people who do inbox us and we’ve had plenty that have taken the time to share some fantastic stories and memories with us over the last while. Invariably too we get some spam and some odd requests also. One thing we regularly get (and happily welcome) is people who get on looking for recommendations on what pubs to visit when they land in Dublin. Sometimes though, someone asks a question that you never thought you’d ever be asked in life – One such question recently came in the form of this: Where do I bring me granny for a pint?


Now far be it from us to suggest that our country does not contain grandmothers who would love nothing more than a few games of pool as they hammer a rake load of Jägerbombs into themselves over a bit of Metallica in Fibbers, but when a question alike the one above is asked of me, I can’t but help to refer to clichéd stereotype. So with images of woolen clad, mass hungry coronation street aficionados in mind I could think of but one pub to recommend that this person bring their dear old Nana – Madigan’s of Abbey St.

We don’t want to in anyway delegitimise Madigan’s by any means here, this is a true, out and out Dublin pub. But given that it’s a stone’s throw from the since closed Clery’s and lies in close proximity to many public transport links as well as being practically next door to Dublin’s premier purveyor of texts and tat relating to the catholic church – we’d argue that it’s a perfect spot for granny.

The pub is one of three Madigan boozers which all sit within walking distance from each other on Dublin’s north side. We’ve only ever seem to find ourselves in this pub before the fall of darkness for some reason, and in our heads it’s certainly remained as an afternoon sort of pub. The most notable aspect of pub that deserves comment upon is its appearance, there isn’t even the slightest of cases to be made on the issue of this not being an attractive looking space. The pub’s aesthetic is well curated and is a brighter and more polished one than that of those which trade nearby. Bright floor tiles and cream hued walls illuminate the pub amply, dark wooden dividers contrast the brighter colours and are utilised to section off different seating areas – one of which contains a fireplace. The bar sits to the left of the room toward the back but you’d nearly miss it given the atrium that sits at the very rear of the room. Panelled entirely in backlit stained glass depicting colourful shrubbery – this atrium, which houses low and cosy seating, is a feature that it is without doubt the main talking point of the pub’s design.

We haven’t been in here in well over a year but the pint is remembered as being an acceptable one, because let’s face it – you never forget a bad one. We’re certainly overdue a visit by now and must report back on how the place sits in 2018.

Now! Who wants to lend us their granny?

The Open Gate Brewery – Thomas St.

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination”… so sang Gene Wilder when he played Willy Wonka in the on-screen adaptation of Rohl Dahl’s most famous book. The song is one that you might hear from time to time as an adult and find yourself kicked by the boot of nostalgia right back to the dreamy state of childishness where you were innocent or naive enough to believe that such places as Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory might exist.

 

Unfortunately life gets its hands on us all, and by the time you get around to our age you come to realise that chocolate factories are in fact cold humourless industrialised complexes filled with hardy workers operating noisy machinery and ne’er an Oompa Loompa in sight. You even know by now that if Willy Wonka’s factory was actually a reality it would be burdened with litigation and health warnings and such…. It’s tough being an adult.

But fear not ye dejected grown-ups, we here at Dublin By Pub have found a space that will fill that Wonka shaped void that plagues your soul so! And it’s happens to be right here in Dublin. The Open Gate Brewery is a space within the confines of St James’ Gate Brewery where magic happens. There’s no confectionary and no little orange lads singing songs which, to be fair, wouldn’t really be that much craic when it came down to it. What they do have instead is something far more exciting – gallons upon gallons of beer!

We will acknowledge that this spot isn’t really a pub – but given that it’s contained within the complex that supplies pints to the vast majority of pubs that we visit, and also given the fact that we’ve contradicted ourselves umpteen times previously on DBP we’re going to make an exception. A working brewery, you could think of this space as Guinness’s very own Frankenstein’s Lab where teams of brewers are given free rein to cook up whatever conceivable form of beer takes their fancy. The gates of this brewery are then opened weekly on the evenings of Thursday, Friday and Saturday – allowing the public sample the brewers’ wares.

I think we might have mentioned in one previous post or another that Pintman №2 is a bit of purist when it comes to drink. It’s not often that you’ll find this man with anything other than a pint of Guinness in his claw, so you can imagine my surprise when himself and myself managed to try each of the 10 or so beers listed on the large board behind the bar on our first visit into the OGB a number of months ago. The setup is handy enough, you can have any of the beers listed outright or you can get a set of samples. The staff were sound and guided us through the options with a good degree of knowledge and friendliness, they explained that most of the taps change as new experimental brews come on stream and older ones dry up. Once we’d finished with all the seasonal beer, Pintman №2 and I knew that there was only one show in left in town, and let us just say how weird of a thing it is to order a pint from within the confines of the belly of the beast – expectations run as high as they possibly can.

Thankfully there’s no sting in the tail here – these pints were perfect down to the last drop: the temperature, the head, and the pour – all spot on. The only criticism we had was that they were served in a new style glass rather than a tulip glass. We debated as to whether we’d reasonably be allowed to take points off Guinness for the way they serve their flagship beer in their own brewery as we drank a few more that evening. I’m not sure if we managed to come to a conclusion in the end.

The Open Gate Brewery is good craic. It’s not a pub in our definition of the term but it is a good precursor to the pub and should accommodate beer thirsty palates of all types.

 

Full disclosure folks: we’ve since visited here on the invitation of The Open Gate Brewery and the lads from The Fine Ale Countdown and were very kindly looked after on that occasion. The piece above is based upon an initial and impartial visit, as all the rest of our posts are.

M Hughes: Chancery St.

‘That burrito was delish now’ said Pintman №2 as we stood on waiting for the Luas. Agreeing with him on the quality of the soakage we’d consumed not ten minutes prior I posed a question as to whether he agreed with me that Mexican food wasn’t exactly the ideal entrée to a night’s worth of stout. Reciprocating with another agreement in turn – Pintman №2 added that he ‘never really enjoyed the first mouthful of Guinness after a burrito’. As the Luas arrived I was inclined to disagree with him.

Having boarded our tram the topic of conversation changed swiftly to an agenda solely hinged around the subject of pubs, namely which of the many around Smithfield we intended to visit this particular evening. As we approached the Four Courts stop I diverted my gaze out the window and came to see M Hughes – a pub we had unsuccessfully attempted to visit on a number of occasions. This was to be a sighting that was immediately followed by the hasty cancellation of Smithfield pinting plans and a last minute scramble off an almost departed Luas upon realising that the place was actually open.

Hughes is a pub I’d often heard people describe as being the last place of refuge wherein soon-to-be inmates could enjoy a final pint before making their way across to the Four Courts to be sent down before the criminal courts were relocated further up the river. I’d also heard of the place being described as stronghold for traditional musicians – so expectations were mixed at best.

The interior of the pub is fantastic. You’ll often here us lauding pubs for interiors that harken back to the 1960s and further beyond, but it’s not often you’ll hear much about the 70s or 80s. Wrong and all as we likely are – we decided that the fit out was reminiscent of the two aforementioned decades. Dark brick and dark wood panelling are used to much effect. A snug large enough to be considered a lounge sits at the front of the pub and is sectioned off with the type of glass panelling the door into your granny’s kitchen used to have.

The seating is traditional enough – hexagonal tables provide ample perching space for pints and large green couches hug the walls, the couches themselves have seen better days but we wouldn’t have them any other way. The tactile compression of the metal springs that lay sprung beneath the upholstery instantly invoked nostalgia for Pintman №2 and me. When we heard the squeak of these springs we were instantly transported to the days when yer da would plonk you down with a bag of crisps and a bottle of Cidona and instruct you to ‘go and make friends with that youngfella over there’… a simpler time.

The only gripe we had with the aesthetic of the pub was the lighting – the brightness is such that we’d suggest that there are lads who have played in Lansdowne Road under less illumination. Our dissatisfaction with this aspect of the pub was not to be the defining feature of our visit this time around though – for with pubs you’ll often find that one aspect of discontent can be readily cancelled out with something that is done well – this brings us nicely along to the pint.

Y’know when you’re sat in a pub that is known to purvey a pint that’s a cut above the rest? And you might just plonk that 1st beauty down upon the table just so you can sit back and admire it as it settles. Then you raise it gingerly toward your mouth and quaff confidently in the full knowledge that you’re about to sample the cream of the crop. Think of that sort of satisfaction, but guerrilla style! Little did we know when we were raising these scoops toward our unsuspecting mouths of the sheer beauty that was about to dance upon our palates – pure crackers of pints, the type that were half gone after the first mouthful.

As this explosion of flavour subsided and as I looked down to Pintman #2’s half drank glass I only had the one thing to say to him: ‘Thought ye didn’t like the first mouthful after a burrito?’ I was duly told to fuck off.

Hughes is a fine relic of a type of Dublin pub. We’ll likely be back someday to check out the trad they offer. It’s also an early house too, so we might have a look earlier on sometime. We’ll definitely be back for one of them creamy pints either way!

Piper’s Corner: Marlborough St.

There was a moment there in 2017 where we were getting a bit worried about the state of the Dublin pub scene. Borne from the increasing number of pubs closing their doors our concerns were compounded when we realised that many of these were boozers that had been operating as far back as we could remember.

Now granted we’re still sore from the loss of The Sackville Lounge, our 2017 grief subsided somewhat when some new pubs sprung up here and there. The first of these caught our attention when we noticed works ongoing at the site of Sean O Casey’s on Marlborough St., the most notable feature of which was the new façade which had been decorated with what this author safely assumes to be the largest image of Seamus Ennis ever printed.

Seamus Ennis for those not in the know was an Irish musician who was most famed for his prowess when it came to playing the indigenous Irish musical instrument – The Uilleann Pipes. The Uillean pipes are an interesting instrument, less discerning ears will tend not to describe them as a pleasant aural experience, but if you’re anything like ourselves you’ll find that the drone of the air passing through the chambers of these pipes will unearth your inner seanchaí and inflame your desire to wander barefoot across the breadth of the country, imbibing solely on whiskey and communicating only in song.

The pub opened last July promising live trad seven nights a week – a statement that had us terrified with the thoughts of pricey scoops and Galway Girl on repeat. Thankfully these were to remain mere nightmares and the pub has already become a hub of activity for all those seeking authentic traditional music.

The interior of the pub is no ornate affair, dark blues are contrasted with plain whites which give the pub a brighter look than most others. The materials are rough and ready – my companion, a carpenter by trade, couldn’t forgive the fact that the back bar was made from a material he reliably informed me to be OSB board. But I liked the overall look of the pub and argue the point that it’ll wear into itself naturally, as all traditional pubs should.

The drink is a mixture of craft and usual fare and should placate the adventurous and the purists alike. Our usual pint of Guinness came in at an even fiver, and was consistently well poured.

The Piper’s Corner is certainly our favourite new Dublin Pub. It’s authenticity is a breath of fresh air in a Dublin smothered with establishments offering homogenised and expensive ‘experiences’ in the guise of anything from New York glamour to Budapest chic – Long may it run!

The Old Storehouse – Crown Alley
(A Pint with Shane MacGowan)

Lately we hit something of a milestone here on DublinByPub – you might have noticed during the month of March that we finally managed to breach the ten thousand follower mark here on Instagram. We’re still a little perplexed as to how we’ve managed to come this far but we’d certainly like to take a moment to sincerely thank all of our followers across Instagram and other social platforms for their continued support and engagement, we genuinely do still get a buzz from spreading the good word of Dublin Pubs and hearing your stories and perspectives back. This following post is one we had hoped to upload when we surpassed the 10K mark, but in our usual disorganised fashion we were a bit late to the mark and are only getting around to it now.

It’s no mystery in this modern existence of ours that certain things work better when coupled with others – salt and pepper, gin and tonic, Lennon and McCartney – you get the idea. One particular pairing whose values I’ve come to espouse as my drinking career has evolved over the years is the coupling of music and a few drinks. When tied together, the aforementioned pair tend to form a sort of symbiosis; themes in music can be outlandish and unattainable, a few pints allow us to cast off the shackles of cynicism and live in the moment of a song, whereas settling into a decent album or a good gig provides a perfectly opportune moment to indulge in a tipple or three – it’ a perfect two-way street. A good number of years ago I was indulging in this particular mix of activities when I happened upon a master of the two arts of music and drink – Shane MacGowan.

The evening leading up to this encounter began not in a pub but in a concert venue on Middle Abbey St. – The Academy, a few friends and I were in to see a since disbanded Dublin group by the name of The Republic of Loose. The Republic Of Loose at this time were known for their raucous shows – which, due to their late starting times, would guarantee a fairly rowdy and booze-quenched audience. These gigs would often involve an appearance from a contemporary musician during the encore and this evening would be no exception to that. Appearing for their first encore on this particular night the band introduced their guest for the evening – the lead singer from The Pogues: Shane MacGowan. With a drink in hand and a lit cigarette in a post smoking-ban era Dublin, Shane ambled into the centre of the stage and led the band in a cover of The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women before performing an original – Fiesta. The crowd’s response couldn’t be described as anything even marginally south of pandemonium.

After the concert had come to a close, and in that after-gig half-drunk euphoria, I found myself sat upon a step outside the venue awaiting the emergence of the friends I’d become separated from. As I waited I had begun talking to a woman with whom I shared the step, mostly discussing the gig we came to address the topic of Shane McGowan’s appearance – at which point I felt it appropriate to declare my desire to share a drink with the great man – it was from here on that things became a bit serendipitous. Upon hearing my request –the woman produced a mobile phone and inexplicably began dialling. When she finished the call I received two important pieces of information – firstly that she was a good friend of The Republic of Loose’s lead singer and secondly (and also more importantly) that Shane McGowan was bound for a pub in Temple Bar called Eamon Doran’s.

With due thanks given for the latter piece of information I had gathered my friends and we made haste to Eamon Doran’s. Now we’ve mentioned Eamon Doran’s on DublinByPub before, it was a rock bar that towed a nice line between the popular and the alterative and was adjoined to the Dublin’s most beloved pizzeria: DiFontaines, before it made the move up to Parliament St. Doran’s had a number of defining features – these were not limited to a large Thin Lizzy stage sign, some very poorly lit basement corners from which lust-spent couples would emerge at random intervals and a narky Asian barman who poured a tremendous pint of stout. I loved Doran’s! And I frequented it to such a degree that I had found myself on first name terms with one of the bouncers, this was something that would prove to be advantageous later on.

For consistency’s sake we should comment on the pub as it stands now. Being fully aware of the potential of their central Temple Bar location, the successive owners decided to revamp our beloved haunt to resemble its neighbouring tourist traps. Thusly The Old Storehouse was born – sending rockers to go seek pastures anew the new look Doran’s became complete with the type of fit out that you might find in any given Irish Bar dotted across the globe and began purveying that sort of paddy-whackery laden genre of Temple Bar Trad that rarely goes an hour without repeating a gratuitous rendition of The Fields of Athenry. We’ve since been in separately over the years and while we agree it would be a grand spot to wind up in for a few hours as a tourist, we can’t say that we’re likely to become locals anytime soon ourselves, but anyway – back to MacGowan.
Arriving into Doran’s shortly after leaving The Academy, we noticed no difference in the place compared to a usual run-of-the-mill night. A quick search for Shane yielded no results and with the diminished prospects of pinting with a Pogue apparent, we set about getting on with enjoying the remainder of out night. This we did, until such a time that the cessation of music and full illumination heralded the end of the evening’s proceedings. Making our way slowly toward the exit, serendipity was to step in again when I ran into the bouncer whom I was friendly with. Having more or less immediately asked him about Shane, he ushered me away into a quiet corner and informed me that he would see what he could do.

A nervous number of minutes would follow wherein I’d gain admittance to the pub once more only to be escorted out again by a more senior member of the security staff with whom I was not friendly, eventually the door would become ajar and a friendly voice would usher me in with the instruction that ‘they’re up the back there’. They were.

In all truth, this memory is a hazy one given the amount of drink that had been consumed on the night – but there are a number of clear recollections from the overall encounter. First was the thought that I had in my head as I approached Shane. Recalling the various recorded interviews I had struggled to comprehend his speech in, I distinctly remember being worried about understanding the man. In hindsight, I perhaps should have had also been concerned about the inverse – given the drink fuelled deterioration in my own particular lingual skills at the time. Nonetheless both fears were ultimately unfounded – we communicated with ease and understood each other in the same manner I’d imagine tribal elders do when they’re speaking in tongues and full of ayahuasca.

Over the course of a single pint of Guinness we discussed topics ranging from The Dubliners to Brendan Behan to Damien Dempsey and music in general. Overall Shane shone through as an intelligent and personable person, he listened to whatever nonsense I must have said to him and conversed insightfully and respectfully throughout. I remember being somewhat astonished by the size of the man’s hands as he raised a pint glass of clear liquid to his lips, a glass which he later clarified to me as containing gin when I naively asked if it contained water. This was corroborated by the smell in the air after he took another mouthful, an aroma that suggested that there wasn’t anything other than gin in the pint glass. When I’d finished my own pint (of Guinness) I asked Shane if I could hang about, and to my surprise he obliged – it was then that a pal of his took me aside and explained that intrusion was a regular occurrence in the Shane camp and if I’d mind fucking off. He put it so politely I couldn’t really refuse.

So out I stumbled into a deserted Temple Bar and set about home, and even now as I type I can still recall the thought I had when I awoke the next afternoon – the disbelieve, the surrealism. I’m still wondering to myself, especially now given the time that has passed, as to whether this just some dreamt up drunken narrative created in my subconscious. But it wasn’t! And this is no Wizard of Oz ending – it’s more along the lines of Nightmare on Elm Street I’m thinking, but with a shitty pixellated image of me and Shane taken on a mid-2000s instead of a few slashes on a nightgown.

So given that we’re always looking for good drinking quotes to punctuate the stuff we put on here and given that we’re on the subject of one of Ireland’s most beloved lyricists, we should leave the last word to Shane. “When the world is too dark, And I need the light inside of me, I’ll walk into a bar, And drink fifteen pints of beer”

The Lord Edward: Christchurch Place.

‘Ah there’s Barney now’ exclaimed a half drunk local sitting at the bar of The Lord Edward on a Saturday afternoon. Having heard the statement our attention was drawn to a man making his way toward the front door of the pub – the man, who was wearing a hoody coloured in a striking shade of magenta similar to that worn by the children’s television dinosaur, responded with an aggressive cluelessness – ‘What the fuck are yis on about? Barney?’

‘Never you mind Barney’, responded another of the locals as his friend began in a chorus of ‘I Love You, You Love Me’. Instinctively the rest of the men gathered around the bar, ourselves included, joined in with the singalong. At this point the penny finally dropped for Barney – ‘Ah fuck de lotta yis’ he responded with some whimsy – a retort which was received with more laughter. Myself and Pintman №2, being in the closest proximity to Barney joined in on the laughter too – this prompted him to change his disposition from that of a whimsical one to an aggressive seriousness delivered with a brand of abruptness that would easily befit Joe Pesci. Enquiring as to what the fuck me and Pintman №2 were laughing at, Barney left just enough momentary discomfort before relaxing us with his return to whimsy once again. We resumed our laughter as he finally exited for his smoke and having remarked amongst ourselves that people would pay good money to see such a scene in The Abbey or The Gate, we continued laughing well beyond the time the man had returned.

This is The Lord Edward! Our most beloved Dublin watering hole – sitting across from Christchurch Cathedral in the heart of Dublin’s historical Viking quarter, we would argue that this is one of the last great unspoilt Dublin Boozers. Now when we say spoilt, we don’t mean destroyed – but it’s fair to say that a pub or two around town can be described as victims of their own popularity when peak times roll around. Here in The Lord Edward there are no t-shirts for sale behind the bar and the pint (which is as good, if not better, when compared to the likes of your Mulligans and your Palaces) is modestly priced, containing no added popularity tax.

You can find a good variation of demographics in here on most days and have all sorts of experiences too. Given this and the multifaceted nature of the man whose name it bears I’d tend to argue that this is a well named pub. Only recently did my curiosity pique to such a level that I actually set about finding out exactly who Lord Edward was and let me tell you – Lord Eddy Fitzgerald was some boyo for one boyo! Born into a well ranked family, he would go on to undertake a few occupations during his lifetime and earn himself the titles of soldier, explorer, parliamentarian and ultimately a revolutionary aligned with the United Irishmen in the late 1700s. A sound aul skin altogether.

The pub’s overall look is afforded by dark wood and a regal shade of green which covers some of the walls and the linoleum and carpet flooring – the lino sits to the front of the pub and the carpet being further in. Wooden dividers mark defined sections from one another and a horseshoe bar allows the staff to serve the entire bar with relative ease. The lads behind the bar themselves are about as sound as the bells that chime across the road in the cathedral – having never given us a moment’s grief or nark, maybe even when it might have been warranted after a skinful.

We had a good moment’s luck when we were in last summer. A good 12 or so of us had gathered for a few scoops with Pintman №3 who had repatriated for a few days to attend a wedding. In the midst of the craic going well the gang had begun indulging in one of their favourite pastimes, one which prior experience told us was ok in this boozer – taking me to task on my dress.

Now it may not have shone through on DublinByPub heretofore but as it turns out I’m not exactly the fashion conscious type. Given this, and the fact that I consider the act of shopping for clothes to be a form of torture that shares exclusive parity with waterboarding – I tend to end up donning some hastily chosen getups that don’t exactly break the bank.

So this particular evening the company I was keeping were deconstructing my latest t-shirt which was of the type that can be bought for €3 in a well-known budget clothes shop. The shirt followed the usual design specification set out by this company and depicted a foreign placename and an object – in this case they being Knoxville and a motorcycle. In the course of this ridicule I allowed my gaze to wander and became aware of a middle aged couple who were peering through the window and looking directly at me. Seeing an opportunity for a change of subject, I decided to beckon them in to pub with a hand gesture – an offer they immediately accepted.

Having entered the pub they moved swiftly toward our table capturing the full attention of the 12 people sat around it in the process. The woman, completely unfazed by all this, stood immediately beside me and with her broad American accent loudly enquired “What’s the deal with this Knoxville t-shirt?” Of course this particular question, at this particular time warranted laughter from everyone at the table except me, so loud was this laughter that I’d say it was heard by the poor creatures hauled up in the crypt of Christchurch across the road.

After things settled and I’d explained the concept of ‘Thanx hun, Penney’s’ to our two new pals from Knoxville, Pintman №3 insisted they settle in for a few jars – which they did. Thereafter followed a great few hours – having the chats and knocking the craic out of visitors to the city is always good fun, even more so when one of them decides to order a dozen Jemmys for the table as a final gesture before disappearing away into the night.

There wasn’t a peep out of the table about anyone’s t-shirt when sixty quid’s worth of Jameson was being thrown down the collective hatch. And when the topic of my clothing does manage to rear its ugly head I do like to remind my so-called friends how my €3 t-shirt paid for itself a literal 20 times over that night in the hope that it may quell the jeers and the slags – it doesn’t.

We couldn’t really love this pub any more if we tried. Be sure to nip in for a pint and try it out for yourself soon.

Ryan’s: Store St.

I suppose it was always only a matter of time until this page became a soapbox for personal grievances, and I’m afraid on this occasion there’s a particular one that needs to be aired. This grievance relates to a phenomenon whereby aspects of a particular city which had heretofore been practically invisible, become prominently noticeable to a person – only after this person has set about photographing the exterior of the pubs of said city.

Road signs! The poxy things are everywhere, as someone who has yet to master the art of driving – it near on perplexes me as to how drivers navigate the plethora of cryptic warnings atop poles littered across the streets of the city. But that’s not the problem here: my particular grievance relates to when Dublin City Council erect these signs in an apparently deliberate attempt destroy an otherwise acceptable vista of a shop front by obscuring the name of the premises

Now I suppose a skilled photographer could manage a far better image of Ryan’s and we might have considered obtaining a better angle by spending a night in Store St. Garda station – which faces the pub, or even photo-shopping the sign out. But DublinByPub is a social history project after all, so we may as well leave it in for posterity’s sake. Oh and while I’m on the topic of Dublin City Council can I please make my annual appeal to have the bird shite washed off the top of Daniel O Connell’s head before the start of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, thanks.

Now, on to Ryan’s! Ryan’s which was relatively recently trading as Robert Reade’s is nicely tucked away in a bit of a nodal point as far as public transport goes. Sitting beneath rail tracks and a mere seconds from Busáras the pub is far more expansive than its exterior would suggest. With much of its look given by wooden tones, Ryan’s wouldn’t be amiss as a bar off shooting from Trinity College’s long library.

Wooden floors, ceilings, veneer and bar all give the pub a cosy feel. A fireplace sits toward the front of the room on the right, whereas the left opens up to accommodate the considerable staircase which is also made from wood and given structure with black wrought iron. The bar runs for a good ten plus feet and would leave no hassle for someone looking to nudge in to get served. Lower seating sits along the windows on the left of the pub and dividers break the span at a few increments. Another door three quarters of the way down the pub allows a more discreet entrance or egress and the space thereafter opens up somewhat and affords the patrons a higher seating alternative.

The pint here has always been drank without any hesitation and hasn’t warranted any commentary from us whenever we were in. We’ve always found the staff to be a sound lot too and they only need ask and we’ll see what we can do to that road sign with an angle grinder.

Ryan’s is a fine boozer – It’s hard to imagine why anyone would rather sit in the drab surroundings of Busáras waiting on a bus when this little gem is around the corner. Be sure to give it a go whenever you’re nearby next.

Tom Kennedy’s: Thomas St.

Do you ever find that in our modern existence, where our surroundings are becoming more and more homogenised in the pursuit of commercialisation that you can lose touch with things of substance? – Things like history and culture! As you take a wander up Thomas St. and witness the encroaching trends of burrito and donut shops that pop up in identical guises to their sister outlets it can become all too easy to forget just how old Dublin actually is.

 

Thankfully there are things that can reconnect us to our past, these can come in the guise of a grandmother shouting about cheap detergent on her metal stall, or for us they can come in the form of reading that a pub on this same street – namely Tom Kennedy’s, is one that is contained within a building that has had a presence upon Thomas Street since somewhere in or around the 1750s, an attribute that is put into context with ease when you consider that The Yanks only declared independence from The Brits in 1776.

It’s said that Wolfe Tone may have been waked here in number 65 Thomas St, and if there’s any truth in that, it could be argued that this building has been accommodating functions for longer than most others in the city because when we arrived into the pub last we were greeted with banners and balloons aplenty denoting not that a revolutionary had been executed, but rather that Jessica was 21.

Walking into this community-warmed local of a summer evening we found ourselves welcomed into the fold without the degree of scrutiny that you might find yourself under in some other shops – as we settled into a few high stools at the front of the bar we couldn’t but be charmed at how the place was abuzz with a warmth that felt akin to something from a Roddy Doyle novel.

A long and narrow pub –it’s one that boasts all the character that a 260 year old should. The seating is mostly cosy – long comfy couches sit you a short distance from the ground in a span that runs parallel to the bar. A handful of high stools sit toward the front of the room ahead of those found at the bar too.

 

The walls leave no uncertainties as to the city within which you are drinking – framed images of all things Dublin are a recurring theme. Panelling coloured in creamy tones make up the upper half of the wall space encountered upon entrance and overall the pub is more brightly lit than is to our preference, but not to a degree that warrants any negative commentary on our part. Opening up toward the back there is a raised section upon which sat a DJ who was blasting numerous ladies of the liberties with contemporary floor fillers as they loaded up on cocktail sausages.

The pint is as is hoped for in these sort of local boozers – having two of the modern Guinness drinker’s most sought after features: creaminess and a price tag south of the fiver mark. We drank a couple confirming the consistency too.

There’s no real negative critique we could offer on Tom Kennedy’s here. We found an old article on a theliberty.ie from 2013 where the owner was expressing concerns about the future of the pub and lamenting the demise of other local ones that were shutting up shop back then. Five years on we can only hope that he sees things a little more optimistically. The craic we had in here last summer would lead us to believe he should.

McGrattan’s: Fitzwilliam Lane

Sometimes when a bit of research is warranted for pubs that we post we can end up finding ourselves in some strange corners of the internet, take this moment as an example – I’m currently perusing The Intoxicating Liquor act of 1927 in order to identify the section of the act relating to The Holy Hour. All so I can corroborate a Brendan Behan quote in which he states that the politician who introduced The Holy Hour to the Dáil was shot dead an hour afterward. As I type now I’ve already realised that the link I was trying to establish between McGrattans’ proximity to the Dáil and a quote from a renowned drinker about politicians isn’t really there, or extremely tenuous at best.

Anyways, for those wondering, Kevin O Higgins – the politician responsible for the since repealed weekly mid-day ban on the sale of alcohol was indeed shot dead – but the timing and motives suggested by Behan’s quote remain unproven.

McGrattan’s is one of those boozers that you just can’t fault the placement of – tucked away and almost remote feeling, it lies down a laneway that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump from the various houses of government located upon Merrion St. Upper. The façade of the pub purports it to have been established in 1798, a claim that is reasonably denied in an article by the fantastic blog: Come Here To Me, which describes the premises as having been converted from a sheet metal workshop to a graduate club for the National University of Ireland in 1964 where after it traded as some form of bar up until it’s incarnation as McGrattan’s in 1989.

The interior of the pub is unusual enough – two dissimilar atria are connected by a corridor furnished with pool tables which acts as a buffer between the two. The front atrium is more bar than lounge and would be of the usual appearance seen around the city if not for its wallpaper – patterned stuff reminiscent of that seen in a dodgy strip club you might get bundled into on a budget stag party you might have attended. The seating in the front is entirely comprised of high stools and there’s an open fire too. The back bar, on the other hand, is a more casual affair. Dimly lit, it affords a cosier experience to its occupants with its lower seating and stained glass windows.

Over the years the better nights we’ve had here were after a decent rake of pints, Pintman №4 and I in our younger and more naïve years were both caught short one night when the women we were trying to covertly discuss under the cover of our poorly constructed utterances in Irish turned out to be Irish teachers themselves. Strangely the bad experiences we’ve had were while relatively sober – late last year we happened to incur the wrath of a barman who’s desire for us to not drink in the same vicinity as a retired RTE newsreader manifested itself in insults and a noisy accusation of non-payment of a bill that was long settled.

We should close out this post by reminding you – the reader, that our idea here on Dublin By Pub is not to review pubs, our aim is to provide a snapshot in time of Dublin Pubs in 2017 from our perspective, and our perspective here is that we’re probably going to give McGrattan’s a miss for a while after a not-so-nice encounter with a bollocks of a barman. Maybe we should have looked at precedence and kept up our policy of only visiting after a minimum of seven pints, and maybe someday we’ll return, perhaps for the big 250th bash in 2048.