As you move away from Thomas St. and make your way toward Dame St you will likely find yourself wandering past a noticeboard. Upon this noticeboard, there is a crudely painted heading which reads: ‘Upcoming Events’. As you continue to read, you’ll find no less than six events listed in equidistance below the heading and painted in the same crude manner, yet smaller. Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer. This may well be your first encounter of The Beer Market – a pub that sits on that buffer zone between The Liberties and Town, known as High St.

The Beer Market: High St.

The Beer Market is one of the ever-growing number of Galway Bay Brewery (GBB) Bars that have begun to proliferate throughout Dublin over the last few years. With a veritable myriad of beers on offer, both by the bottle and from the twenty taps behind the bar, there’s absolutely no denying that this is a pub which is more than aptly named – beer is most certainly the focus here.

As a whole, the pub is set on three separate mezzanine-like floors that zig zag to one another. The main bar is placed in the middle of these three floors and is a relatively small space. Compounding the diminutiveness of this middle room is what Pintman Nº2 and I categorized as one of the largest pub tables in Dublin. The unnecessarily large table, which sits in the centre of the room, comes complete with a hollow in the centre – for those all-important board games, and takes up 40% of all available space in this section, easily.

Given the above, and unsurprisingly enough, we opted for a seat at the bar where I happened upon a small design flaw that irked me enough to include it here. Presumably, due to the dynamic nature of the range offered by The Beer Market, taps are marked with numbers instead of the usual branded disc you’d find in most other pubs. In order to identify what pours in any given tap you need to check the corresponding number on a board – this sits above the bar and annoyingly is outset from the boundary of the bar itself. Call me lazy if you want, but having to get up off my stool and take those two or three paces back just to pick what I want to drink for each round is something that impacts my drinking experience negatively. For the little details, an experience, make.

The top section of the pub is easily the best. Large windows complete with a ledge offer prime people-watching real estate – some of the best in Dublin. Ultimately though the vibe of the place is pushed away from our liking with the furnishings. The seating is a particular annoyance – comprising of antique metal and wooden industrial stacking chairs – they bring back memories of some uncomfortable and over-ran school assembly that might have taken place in any given Irish national school between the 1950s and the 1990s.

But all to their own, and just because the boozer’s vibe isn’t to our liking we can’t deny its success. This is a building that has been something of a perpetually failing boozer to our memory – given the volume of times it has changed names (and presumably hands) before GBB had a crack at it, and they’d certainly appear to be going nowhere anytime soon by the looks of things. Aside from all that there is no denying the quality of the beer – I opted not to go too adventurous and get my usual GBB order of ‘Of Foam and Fury’ which is a fantastic DIPA, Pintman Nº 2 went with the house stout – Buried at Sea and drank it with little complaint.

When all is said and done, there is no one that could say that Galway Bay Brewery isn’t capable of running a good boozer. Because they are. And there are a number of their pubs in Dublin that we’d happily spend a good few hours in. Unfortunately, for us though, this isn’t one of them.

A month or two back I found myself in the fortunate circumstances to be chatting away to a ninety-five year old man by the name of Bill. Bill, as it turns out, is someone who spent sizeable portion of his life working at the St James’ Gate brewery. A man more than capable of spinning a yarn or two, he had me enthralled with all his stories of the antics and the goings-on in Guinness’ way back in the pre-Diageo days.

McCann’s: James’ St.

As you can well imagine, it didn’t take me too long of a time to get around to quizzing Bill on what pubs local to the brewery were like back in the day. His response to which, initially, was something of a disappointing one. ‘I couldn’t really tell ya’ he told me, before adding that he ‘seldom drank in them’. Having my suspicions that his response wasn’t one that was the result of temperance, I could only find myself able to respond to his answer with another question – why? So he proceeded to tell me the reason for his answer, and it’s a bit of a gem.

‘This Friday’, as he put it, ‘we were after arriving into work and finding out that one of the men had had his first baby, well, his Mrs did, that is. So we said we’d better go around and wet the baby’s head during our tea, y’see.’

Electing to head across the road to a pub by the name of Hannan’s, all the men present opted for a libation befitting of the celebration at hand, and it was when they began to drink these particular beverages that the trouble began.

‘So we fill-t the table up with plenty of little fellas’, said Bill, ‘because we were celebrating y’know. But no sooner had we started drinking, in walks God Number One and God Number Two – My boss and my boss’ boss. And the two of them gawking across the pub at us all drinking shorts – and this is eleven o clock in the morning, remember. So we said we better finish up and head off.’

So up they did finish and off they did head and no more was heard of it until Monday morning. It was then that Bill was called into the boss’ office, where the boss then proceeded to… lambast him, to use the appropriate parlance.

‘Ah he gave me an awful telling off’ Bill recalled, ‘since we were after getting him in trouble with his own boss and that, and d’ye know what he says to me?… He says to me that it wasn’t even that yis were all skiving off to the pub on your tea. It’s just that there wasn’t even a single Guinness product on the bloody table! Not even a bottle of stout between the lot of ye.’

Things have changed since then. The marketing tactics deployed by Bill’s former employers are a far more sophisticated affair and Hannan’s is now referred to McCann’s. Unchanged, thankfully, is the building’s purpose as a public house. And a good one at that.

A small one-roomed sort of shop, McCann’s has cosiness in spades. Exposed brick and natural wooden tones keep the vibe traditional at its essence. A large clock takes pride of place behind the bar – it being recessed into the structure while the seating is standard enough – high stools at the bar and couches and low stools around the low tables elsewhere. Walls are adorned with portraits of persons of Irish historical significance – JFK, Arthur Guinness, Behan and The Dubliner’s.

The drink isn’t as run-of-the mill as one would expect from the pub’s traditional appearance. Contained within, is a good amount of promotion and branding relating to a beer by the name of Kentucky – several variants of which are available behind the bar (their bourbon barrel ale being a fairly tasty sup) along with a good selection of beers from Foxes Rock. My suspicions were confirmed when I googled these together to find that they were produced by the same brewery – Station Works Brewery. The selection of whiskey isn’t too shabby either – there’s plenty of the Pearse-Lyons range on offer, as you’d expect with the pub being situated next door to the distillery. The Guinness is as good as it should be in such close proximity to the source and is priced agreeably enough too.

The far end of James’ St is not an area of town that we manage to find ourselves in all that often. And with cosy little boozers like McCann’s slap-bang in the heart of it, this is something we need to change, pronto!

Don’t you have to wonder about billionaires sometimes? It might just be me, but you have to even slightly agree that there’s something inherently untrustworthy about someone who manages to pass the million mark in their bank account and instead of going full rockstar and pissing a sizeable chunk of it away in a glorious lengthy bender, sits down and plans on how to times it another thousand? Shite craic say we!

Hartigan’s: Leeson St.

Outwardly, that opening passage will read as if being the start of another ill-advised tangent. I can assure you that this is not the intention. There exists, in my mind at least, good reason to link the aforementioned sentiment to the topic of the pub pictured here, but in order to make this connection, I need to tread a little bit more carefully than I usually would. For this connection hinges heavily upon the mention of a well-known, divisive Irish figure, and this particular person has an infamous proclivity for litigation. Given all this, the person in question will henceforth be referred to as a “well-known Irish billionaire” or WKIB for short.

By now you’ll probably appreciate that there is no setting that I won’t talk about pubs in – so it should come as no surprise that it was over a discussion on Hartigan’s with a colleague in work that I came to learn that WKIB had such a penchant for Hartigan’s that they opted to have a replica of it built in their back garden as part of a landmark birthday celebration. This was an act that in normal circumstances would probably have upped my estimation of WKIB – but this had another dimension. What soured this from being perceived as a mere act of wealthy extravagance was the fact that this pop-up-pub happened to replicate the very boozer in which it is widely reported that WKIB (allegedly) sat down for a crucial meeting with a well-known TD back in the 1990s. It is alleged that the two of them, while there, got up to some shady dealings over some mobile phone licenses and the sort… Allegedly.

A tribunal we ain’t! And given that, we’ll say no more on this alleged meeting, for now, other than to say that it was one that fed into my natural distrust of the billionaire class, and strengthened my nurtured disdain for brown-envelope politicking. But worst of all – this was an anecdote that ultimately led me to approach Hartigan’s with something of a low expectation. An expectation that would ultimately find itself mostly unchallenged.

Boasting the sort of drab appearance that visitors to public hospitals in the 1990s will remember with little fondness, the pub is characterised by a too-bright-for-its-own-good sort of colour scheme complete with a cold hard floor comprising of greyed tiles, with the odd red one thrown in for good measure. Pintman Nº3, having only moments ago, been made aware of the replica commissioned by WKIB re-evaluated, downward, his level of amazement at the feat by remarking that he’d probably be able to throw the same up with a few sheets of ply out his own back garden in half a day “at best”. Rugby and golf paraphernalia was the order of the day when it came to the pictures upon the wall – all of this shared space with exposed cabling and plenty of UCD class photos too, we were surprised to see that the pub retained its ties to the university, which moved from what is now The National Concert Hall many years ago.

We should note, however, that there are a number of redeeming features to be considered too – most of them being on the exterior. Stained glass windows at the front of the pub are certainly a conversation piece. The four of them bear a letter each – T J L L – the meaning of which we ultimately forgot to ask the barman about. Along with these, the façade also boasts a fine example of some traditional signwriting – the name of the pub being unambiguously displayed in beautiful gold leaf lettering. And then there is some interesting wrought style ironwork which makes up a gate that guards the front door. Bearing the letter’s A and M, a quick bit of research would inform an educated guess that these are the initials of the pub’s long-serving former publican – Alfie Mulligan, whose full name once adorned the neighbouring pub.

The pint didn’t warrant too much complaining and came in at €5.10, a figure we all agreed was a good one, given the pub’s central location. The barman that poured said pint seemed a sound enough lad too.

Hartigan’s is not a pub that I ever envisaged us having much to say about – certainly not this much. It’s not a boozer with a vibe to our particular liking, but it would be ignorant for us not to tip our hat to the brazen manner in which it sits in comparative dereliction to some of the relics of the Celtic Tiger in its immediate vicinity. And while it may always be a pub that is synonymous with the infamy that comes with (alleged) political corruption, there’s no denying that it is one of the great Dublin boozers of old. And no (alleged) money-hungry bastard will ever take that away from the place! … Allegedly.

Sitting in close proximity to one of our boundary lines – The Royal Canal, Lowry’s is a pub firmly in the centre of the inner city Dublin. Given the pub’s proximity to Croke Park, it may be one that thirsty GAA fans will recognise easily – older regulars will remember it by its former name – Belton’s, it having been part of a chain of pubs attributed to former Lord Mayor of Dublin: Paddy Belton.

Lowry’s: Summerhill Parade.

We haven’t really a whole lot to say about Lowry’s really. Pintman Nº2 and I visited last year on the occasion of a matchday and found little incentive to hang around for too long. A sparsely decorated pub, we found the overall look to be a clinical one aided in no part from the light colour scheme and the textured, shiny wallpaper which all served to alienate the overall aesthetic from that expected of your run-of-the-mill Dublin boozer. TVs were ubiquitous around the space allowing ticketless fans to catch any of the action going on down the road that they would be otherwise be missing.

Lowry's 2

Our misgivings about the fit-out aside, there’s wasn’t too bad of a buzz around the place in the preceding hours to the impending fixture in Croke Park. The staff were all more than capable when it came to dispensing pints to the thirsty hoards and consistently did so at a rate in keeping with the demand. A pint of Guinness is returned to me on this particular occasion in a Budweiser glass sparking that age-old debate on whether such an importance should be put on the vessel within which a pint is served on, and whether it’s allowable to diminish said importance in the setting of a busy bar. The pint, which is following a few of its friends before it, is drank without too much difficulty in the end.

Overall we couldn’t lie and say that we left here with any sort of urgency to return, especially not when such a gem like The Bridge Tavern is only up the road, but if you’re looking for a few on the way up to Croker there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop in.

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.

Madigan’s: North Earl St.

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

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.

Madigan’s: O’Connell St.

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.]

The Sunset House: Summerhill Parade.

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 a 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.

Lloyd’s: Amiens St.

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 wall mainly relate to sport and one in particular caught our eye so much that I’ve just spent an hour on google looking for 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.

Lloyd's - 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.

Finding themselves 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 quickly piped up 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, “in case 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.