I wonder if any of you agree with me when it comes to my distinct repulsion toward a good hearty roast dinner? First of all, let me assure you that this is no case of picky eating or food snobbery – there’s not a single bad thought I could possibly muster when I’m halfway through a plate and am mixing gravy and mash together like your aulfella would cement and water with a spade. But there’s a certain vibe that this meal, which is traditionally served on a Sunday, evokes for me that just fills me with dread. The vibe in question is that gloomy sort of despair, a bit like a dose of watered down grieving, or even like The Fear – minus the physiological effects of the drink.

This is no solitary phenomenon though, this feeling can be evoked by many different stimuli – many will experience it upon the occasion of hearing the Glenroe theme tune, some even attribute it to seeing horses jumping around in the RDS in late August. At any moment you are just one small experience away from your mind being tricked into thinking that good times are coming to a close and that normality’s resumption is closer than before.

The above is an excerpt from my manifesto calling for Carvery Bars to be removed from all public houses. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Carvery Bars in plain sight within the confines of a pub are the Devil’s work. Consider it to be a DublinByPub core believe that no one person should be at risk of getting that sinking Sunday feeling while they’re out on the pints, except maybe on a Sunday.

Madigan’s of North Earl St, as you might have guessed, has a carvery bar and I think the previous number of paragraphs say all that needs to be said on that. The pub sits in the centre point between its two identically named sister pubs on Abbey & O Connell St. Aesthetically the pub follows a similar design specification to these sister pubs whereby well-kept wooding fittings and stained glass is the order of the day. It’s a fairly narrow pub and split into two atria by a rather ornate wooden divider that houses a recessed clock in its centre. A long marble bar which compliments the mosaic flooring well runs along the right side of the further of the two atria before stopping to accommodate that feature which will not be mentioned once more.

The pint was of an acceptable standard and at €5.20 came in at far better value than that on sale in the O Connell St branch. The staff couldn’t be faulted too much and even accommodated Pintman Nº2’s insatiable appetite for international football by putting the World Cup on the nearest TV to us.

We couldn’t quantify Madigan’s of North Earl St as anything other than a great looking boozer. But the truth is that it’s quite unlikely that we’d take to frequenting it when we’ve such a Grá for so many boozers nearby. But who knows, leave the food in the kitchen and we might talk.

It was over a few pints and within the midst of a discussion on the topic of academia that I found myself outvoted by a majority of my peers recently. Having counted yours truly alongside Wilde, Wolfe Tone and other such alumni, I came to realise that considering Trinity College as one’s Alma Mater by virtue of having served a small portion of an ill-fated electrical apprenticeship on-campus is not an act that bona fide Trinity Graduates are agreeable to. This is not even negotiable when coupled with hours clocked up drinking cans on the Green at The Pav or drinking pints in Doyle’s. I suppose we’ll just have to hold out for an honorary degree in the meantime.

Sitting on the corner of College St. – Doyle’s can sometimes be considered as something of an ad-hoc student bar serving the nearby Trinity College. More a bar with students than a student bar, you can forego the thoughts of sloppy-drunk youngsters nosily gathered around a beer pong table when you come to think of Doyle’s – the place is first and foremost a public house. Traditional in its appearance – it’s decorated in similar tones to average Dublin Pubs throughout town. Dark woods are used for the bar, the floors and the church pew style seating and set the overall look of the pub. The walls display the usual mix of ephemera relating to sport, drinking, music and local history while flourishes of exposed brick and air ducts add a sort of understated rustic charm to the room. The bar itself follows the circular pattern of the pub – wrapping around the curves of the room it leaves no patron more than a couple of metres away from a point of service.

The pint of stout has always hit the mark for us in here and has never given us too much reason for complaint. There’s a decent mix of crafty options alongside the old reliables and there’s usually an offer or two on the go for the students and thrifty postgraduates alike.

All in all we couldn’t fault Doyle’s too much. It’s a pub that facilitated Pintman №3’s tentative foray into the world of pints and pubs and he refuses to view it through any other lens than one that’s heavily tinted with nostalgia. And that’s not to say that the rest of us don’t have our fond memories of the place too – notwithstanding the time the three of us almost came to blows after a disagreement over a question in a Father Ted quiz in the upstairs bar. But that’s a story for another day.

Of all the questions that people level at us here in DublinByPub, the one that we seem to find ourselves on the end of the most is that which seeks to identify what our favourite thing about the Pubs of Dublin is. Now if we’re entirely honest with ourselves here, I think we’d have to admit that the only consistent thing about the answers we’ve given to this particular query over the years would be the level of inconsistency that could be attributed to them. For, you see, there are a great multitude of things that we hold dear when it comes to the watering holes of this city – and if you are to query us on such a broad topic we will take full liberty to fly off on any given tangent influenced solely by what happens to come to mind at that particular moment.

Today, for example, our feature of choice would be history – we’ve said in the past that an interesting history is a marked advantage (yet not a pre-requisite) when determining what makes a good pub – this is definitely a statement which we would still stand over. One of the handier things, though, about a pub with a rich history (from the perspective of someone who happens to be in the business of writing about pubs) is that they offer a good hook from which a piece of writing could flow from – this was certainly something I had hoped would apply to Madigan’s of O’Connell St when I sat down to try and write this piece, all of about two hours ago.

You’d think that a boozer sitting squarely upon the country’s most historically significant thoroughfare would be one that would be steeped in all sorts of ancient wonder, wouldn’t you? But a good hour or so of uninspired googling would suggest that there’s not too much to tell here. My poorly effected research would propose to me that the pub is housed in what was previously part of Savoy Cinema (I’ll have to drop into me Grandfather and confirm that) and was established in 1984. Personally, I was hoping that I’d find that the building was established in 1790 – not because of any reasons pertaining to history, but just because it would have lead nicely into my next paragraph.

€17.90 is the unfortunate sum that yours truly paid for the only round that three of us had in Madigan’s of O’Connell St. Guinness came in at an eye-watering €5.70; a drinkable pint, albeit with a bit too big of a head on top – we wondered if this was an intentional measure taken to safeguard customers against choking when they glanced back down at their receipts. Needless to say, there are far superior pours at infinitely more agreeable prices throughout the city.

Unlike the price of the drink, the appearance of this pub isn’t something that we could fault too much. Ubiquitous and pristinely up-kept mahogany characterises the overall look of the pub – dividers and hatches aplenty offered momentary distraction from the pain emanating from the pocket wherein my wallet was kept. Pintman Nº2, while agreeable to my positive assessment of the interior, was quick to knock off a few more points by wondering why a pub charging five seventy for a jar is still showing World Cup matches on a fuzzy, mid-2000s era, CRT style TV. “Surely they can afford a flat screen by now”, he protests.

The customer base is unsurprisingly mostly made up of tourists, the staff are warm and friendly in their service. The bouncer was prone to nipping in and out to keep track of the score of the ongoing match during our stay – a humourous sort of man, he interacted well with the customers inside. He even suggested a few boozers to us upon overhearing our arguing over where to go next – advice we opted to take in lieu of another round.

This was the last of the many Madigan’s that we had yet to set foot in, ultimately it disappointed. Undoubtedly it’s a well-placed and good looking boozer, but the price of the pint was one that was just too exorbitant for us to justify returning. This now means that Madigan’s of O’Connell St is officially deemed to be DublinByPub’s least favourite of all the Madigan’s. And we include Killbarrack Shopping Centre in that!

 

I’m a bit annoyed at The Sunset House! You see, the pub was rebranded as The Brendan Behan after a fatal gangland shooting back in 2016, and this was the name that the pub was trading under when we made our only visit there back in September of last year. Being aware of the name and needing no persuading – yours truly here wrote a piece on the pub which was more of an ode to Brendan Behan than anything else. You can imagine my disappointment when I rocked up to Summerhill Parade to snap the pub last January, only to discover that it had reverted to its former name – The Sunset House. So queue in a re-write and a not-so-swift realisation that the pub’s signage had been obscured by a traffic light in the photo I’d taken, and I’d returned to Summerhill once more for another snap only to find the pub closed. In the intervening times that I’ve passed the boozer I’ve always found it closed * – so this image will have to do for now.

*[I’m not sure if it’s gone the way of Gill’s down the road and decided upon a more skeleton set of opening dates, or if it’s just plain closed-down. D1/D3 folks might advise us of what the craic is in the comments.]


Anyhow, I suppose I’m glad that I managed to snap an open and operating Sunset House during an actual sunset, albeit with obscured signage – we made just the one visit here over the years and happened to do so on what we can only assume to be one of the pub’s busier trading days – All Ireland Final Day. With Dublin Facing off against Mayo in the 2017 decider – Pintman №2 and I, GAA novices at best, found the bluest attire we possessed and took to the boozers of Summerhill hoping to suck up some of the atmosphere. Arriving in during the earlier half of 1PM we found The Sunset House to be as busy as one would expect any purveyor of alcohol in close proximity to a stadium on the day of a final to be.

In the past we’ve spoken about how some boozers sometimes defy expectations set by their exterior, The Sunset House is no such a pub. There was little or nothing to write home about when it came to the appearance of this pub, bright and plain – the colours bring an unwanted sense of sterility to the place. The seating is basic enough and Pintman №2 and I agreed that the only noteworthy feature of the pub was the bar which had been constructed from brick.

The pint was good and in a fine flow with the increased level of custom, mine came to the table in a Smithwicks Glass which prompted a discussion on whether such an offence was excusable given the day that was in it. The price isn’t remembered as one that caused any offence to either of us.

The vibe in the place was surreal enough, we agreed that we’d need to return to get a feel for the place on an ordinary day but for now we embraced the mix of patrons brought in by the impending game. A DJ sat ensconced into a corner of the pub blasting unfazed patrons with that type of paddywhacking continuity-republican music you might hear at the end of the night at some ropey cousin’s wedding. Face-painters did the rounds and coloured in the cheeks of children with their team colours of choice – I was disappointed that Pintman №2 wasn’t further along with the gargle such that he’d be more agreeable to having his mush painted too. As we finished out our gargles we’d clocked a local in a weathered Bowie t-shirt. Having remarked on him being the oldest lounge boy we’d ever seen we pondered as to whether he’d been coerced into the job with the promise of free gargle the night prior.

Even though we wouldn’t see this place threatening to breach the top one hundred cosy boozers in the capital, we’d still hate to think that the sun had set on The Sunset House. Hopefully it’s still on the go or at least will be again soon.

 

It was few years ago and during the course of a casual conversation with a colleague that I came to realise that Lloyd’s of Amiens St. was a pub I needed to visit as soon as possible. Being on the occasion of having recently started a new job – I found myself talking to a well-established member of staff for such a substantial duration that platitudes and my grossly limited knowledge of football would no longer suffice in their efforts to sustain the conversation – so I changed to the subject to pubs, which is when he said it. With the topic in hand – this colleague came to mention Lloyd’s on Amiens St – he remarked on how the pub was one he was familiar with as it was his grandfather’s local, before suffixing the statement by calmly adding that his grandfather “wrote his will in there”. This is a boozer I need to see, thought I.

 


A bit of a North Inner City institute, Lloyd’s sits on the corner of Amiens St. and Foley St. A medium sized sort of pub – its interior follows an almost hook-like shape with regard to its floor space. Wooden flooring sits underfoot at the front of the pub while carpet takes over at the back section. Seating is comprised almost exclusively of low tables which are complimented by stools and couches – all of which are neatly upholstered. We spotted just the one high table which was located close to the bar. The bar itself is flanked by the expected couple of stools along its length and is a fairly solid looking structure. Built of carefully varnished dark wood, it contains a well branded header which wouldn’t struggle too badly to inform the blindest of patrons that they are in “Lloyd’s of Amien St. Est. 1823” – this statement is made twice in appealing gold embossed letters, each instance of which is separated by a clock which is recessed into the wood. Pictures hung upon the mainly relate to sport and one in particular caught our eye such that I’ve just spent an hour on google trying to identify it. The image (below) is one of a seven-a-side football match in an historical inner city area toward the rear of Gardiner St known as The Gloucester Diamond.

It’s been a good year and a half or more since I last darkened the door of this boozer, but Pintman №2 and №3 happened to drop in a few weeks ago and found themselves surprised to discover that the pub was showing television coverage of a certain wedding that a group of high profile tax-dodgers were hosting in a neighbouring state – y’know the one. Being on the end of the type of look someone might receive from a group of locals in a pub that they aren’t known to frequent – Pintman №3 was quick to disarm the gang of regulars by enquiring as to whether they had bought the wedding in “on the pay-per-view”. After a bit of a chuckle the lads hastened to insist that the viewing choice was solely for the benefit of a woman who happened to be in cleaning the pub – a statement that Pintman №2 classified as a dubious one given the comparative level of interest shown between the gang of lads and the cleaner. As the rest of Pintman №2 and №3’s time elapsed in the pub they were also to meet another character who Pintman №2 describes as bearing a striking resemblance to Bricktop from the movie Snatch. While there, Bricktop spent his time brandishing a cheap sharpening stone he had acquired that day. When asked what he was doing with such an item he responded that it was to sharpen his knives, “incase I need to stab one of you bastards”. The lads legged it shortly afterward.

I’m also assured that the pint in Lloyd’s is still up to the high standard I remember it as previously being at – and still very competitively priced to boot. So if you’re looking for a good pint, or a few characters, or if you’re just a closet West Brit seeking like-minded drinking buddies – Lloyd’s could be the place for you.

There’s an old proverb that I’ve adopted into my lexicon over the years which states that what is seldom is wonderful. Granted that this is an adage that I doubt too many persons involved in the task of tracking asteroids would be partial to, it’s one that I find can ring true from time to time, one such time happened a few weeks ago.

It was late enough of a Saturday evening when a text came through from Pintman Nº2; yours truly was hauled up on the wagon recovering from the physical and financial perils of a recent jaunt around Toronto where he’d tried to do a Behan and “Drink Canada Dry”. The text message, as it would transpire, was to inform me that Pintman Nº3 was home for the grand duration of one and a half days and that a hurriedly planned session had entered the tendering stage. Remembering the aforementioned wonder of infrequency I decided I’d borrow a few quid and postpone my recovery for another weekend.

The next afternoon, the full DublinByPub contingent set out on a crawl around a few beloved boozers in town. After hitting two or three pubs we decided to make our way to The Long Hall – as we did so Pintman Nº2 and I brought Pintman Nº3 up to speed on what he’d been missing – telling him that one headline that he had missed out on was that about The Chancery Inn having been put up for sale for €1.7M. As I asked the two lads whether they reckoned we should pool our resources and put in a bid, Pintman Nº3 was quick to put any potential venture to bed by remarking how the proposition had been made by someone who “had to borrow fifty quid to come out for a few pints today”. This interaction, as luck would have it – is a fine segue into what we have to say about what would befall us as we came to the next junction.

Now, it’s fair to say that we pick up a good amount of information as we journey around the boozers of the city – anecdotes and facts relating to music, history, architecture and politics are all pretty commonplace. But one thing we don’t tend to gather on our wanderings, and this may be solely down to our poor acumen in matters related to finance or commerce, is worthwhile business advice – we simply don’t encounter it. But on this particular afternoon as we strode toward JJ Smyth’s and the crowd of snap-happy passers-by gathered outside, we happened to come up with DublinByPub’s first (potentially) worthy piece of business advice, and it can be surmised in one single word – Murals!

As can be seen in the image attached, a bare gable end is nothing if not a good spot to get creative. JJ’s were obviously using their heads when they allowed the astoundingly talented Subset Dublin to ‘Paint It Black’ (sorry) and throw up a portrait of everyone’s favourite pensioners – The Rolling Stones. There have been two other phenomena over the last year which have had a similar buzz about them whereby they became plastered all over social media – namely the awesome Bordalo II work on the side of The Workshop and Irishtown Brewing’s fantastic mural which covered The Hairy Lemon’s façade for a while last year. So if you’re looking to get your boozer onto the screens of people’s phones and you have a spare bare wall, you know what you need to do.

I suppose we better get on to saying something about JJs at this stage, this boozer wasn’t actually on our itinerary on this particular afternoon, but we can’t resist a cheeky detour now and again, so in we went. The pub, which is well known for the Jazz Club which was housed in its upstairs bar up until recently, wasn’t all that busy when we arrived during the middle of the afternoon. There was one or two locals at the bar, one of whom looked like he was ‘waiting for a friend’ (sorry) – the radio was playing a playlist of Led Zeppelin tunes which we all agreed was in keeping with the new rock-and-roll aesthetic set by the mural. We were greeted gregariously by a woman behind the bar who was as friendly as she was energetic – she promptly sorted us out with a few pints as we settled in before proudly telling us of her love for her job and how she was ‘born to be behind that bar’. Enamoured by her passion, we enquired as to how long she’d been in JJs – ‘about two weeks’ said she

Appearance-wise the pub is pretty traditional, which was a welcome sight to us – scarlet coloured walls and carpet couple well with the couch seating which is a sort of faded shade of pine, this runs the full length of the left side of the bar with several octagonal tables sitting at intervals along the run. Pintman Nº3 was quick to prove that he hadn’t lost his keen eye over on the continent by quickly noticing the old disused call bells which sat recessed into the wall behind the couches – a nice touch, we all agreed. The bar itself sat about two thirds of the way toward the end of the pub and was of a medium size and constructed with dark wood.

The pint came in at €5.20 and received a chorus of approval from all around the table as they finished a first sup in unison. Pintman Nº3 enjoyed his with a toastie which he critiqued by exclaiming “Grogan’s is safe anyway”. When we finished up, the woman behind the bar turned on a bit of a persuasive charm and tempted us to have one for the road, and although she nearly swayed us we ultimately opted to continue on crawling having given her our assurance that we’d be back another day, a statement we definitely meant.

Apologies for the length of this one folks, I had no intention of making this such a lengthy post. Ah well, I suppose ‘You Cant Always Get What You Want’…..  (sorry).

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.

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?

“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.

‘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!