The Celt: Talbot St.

The Celt is an odd one, although it’s not to the best of the author’s knowledge advertised, marketed or described as a tourist bar it somehow is. Now, when we say tourist bar we’re not in this instance likening it to some of the purveyors of extortionately priced paddywhackery in Temple Bar but anytime we’ve been in there has always been a healthy abundance of tourists tucking into stews or plates of cabbage alike.

The décor here is fairly traditional, it’s not the most polished of spaces but its roughness supplements its charm. The standard old Irish pub paraphernalia makes up the decoration with whiskey jugs and black and white portraits all around. Threadbare wood and red slate flooring set the visual tone of the pub which is well set out for a small enough room.

We’ve been in a few times, one of which was in the midst of a crawl where we arrived in to a bit of music which melded nicely into the background. The pint was decent enough and was drank without complaint. There was a decent mix of locals and tourist and the vibe was friendly with a touch of strange given that there was a Japanese warrior (whom some of us recognized as a busker from Grafton St.) at the bar having a pint.

On the whole we can’t fault The Celt too much. It’s the good type of tourist pub and the type we’d recommend over those money grabbing bastards in Temple Bar any day.

Bar Rua: Clarerndon Street.

Bar Rua is a fairly uniquely faceted bar. Its modern architectural form stands out amidst its comparatively mundane neighbours and beckons curious visitors to pass its threshold.

We found its interior to be well put together, the lines are crisp and clear and the vibrant hues of wood are well integrated into the space reminding visitors of more traditional bars. The seating en-masse is arranged well and doesn’t come across as being obtrusive with regard to the craic.

The drink is a mixture of standard diageo fare and a good few craft options. We called for two pints of plain and sat upstairs. Upon ascension we settled along a ledge and faced out a window which proved to be a great aid to the grand ‘ol tradition of people-watching. The bar was lightly packed and we were sat fairly closely to a drab looking party which we suspected to be a Fair City Stag.

Now, we should probably define the aforementioned term: Fair City Stag. This is a piece of language coined by Pintman #2 which has found its way into our vernacular. It relates to a stag (or bachelor) party that any viewer of Fair City or any other such soap opera will be familiar with. The story-line itself is a cliché – the local Romeo has been snared by some girl next door type and is headed for matrimonial bliss. But before an exchange of vows can occur, the character’s last night as a single man must be observed. This requires a ‘gang of lads’ and invariably all the men from the fictional town in the suitable age bracket are rounded up for a night of debauchery and devilment. Will they go to Liverpool? Or maybe Ibiza? Or even Galway? No, no… these men whom have otherwise plotted and schemed against one another for their entire lives are off to the same local pub that they frequent every other day, bound in faux ties of fraternal kinship.

After knocking the bit of craic out of the lads and finishing two lackluster and overpriced pints we were to move on to pastures anew. Bar Rua has serious potential, its well laid out and toes the line between traditional and modern with ease. If they could only improve the quality of the Guinness and lower its price we’d be onto a winner

EDIT: We recently returned to Bar Rua and are happy to say we had a great pint of plain. Also this post probably began our crusade on denouncing the overpricing of Guinness in town. We haven’t rolled back on that crusade but should probably offer a sidenote that we haven’t been as harsh on other establishments about price as we are on Bar Rua here.

The Black Sheep: Capel St.

There was a while after this pub opened when people would inquire after us as to whether we had been in The Black Sheep. Coyly we’d respond that we had, not before blaming our attendance there on the fatal combination of excessive pints and limited options. Only around the fifth time we were asked this did we come to realise that the folk questioning us were referring to a newly opened craft beer house on Capel St. In our naivety we believed they’d been referring to Northside Shopping Centre’s infamous sawdust-littered nightclub which was known as The Blacker, a name derived from the original name of the pub it sat upon: The Black Sheep. We could write a novel’s worth of material on The Blacker but we’ll leave that for now.

The Black Sheep is another of The Galway Bay Brewery’s premises in the country’s capital. It adheres to your standard craft beer bar design specs with all the usual brewery posters, flags and fixings. The seating, the majority of which was comprised of large kitchen tables and mismatched chairs was more gastro than it was pub and wasn’t really to our liking. We opted for a few high stools along a ledge which we found a fair bit more conducive to decent chat. One design feature we were, however, quite fond of was a technicolor image of Fr. Ted & Dougal’s Lovely horse which was housed in a fantastically tacky gold frame.

The assortment of beer available is unrivaled in its variance and GBB are consistent insofar that their staff here are as helpful and knowledgeable as their colleagues in the other GBB bars across the city. They’ll be sure to land you with a jar that’s to your liking.

All in all The Black Sheep is a solid craft beer house, a thousand times better than its nearest Capel St craft beer neighbour and well recommended to those in search of crafty options on the northside of the city centre.

Brogan’s: Dame St.

Previously on DBP we’ve spoken of pubs which had been fitted out in a manner to make them appear old and worn. The manner we’ve spoke of these places has to memory not been of the most complimentary nature and the word gimmicky may have been thrown about. Brogan’s of Dame St. is in no risk of being labelled similarly.

Brogan’s, sitting in near approximation to the much beloved Olympia Theatre is a pub which is naturally weathered and worn. The seldom varnished wooden floor and furnishings add to the authentic aged feel to the pub. This atmosphere is compounded in no small part by what has to be the city’s largest collection of old Guinness adverts to be found outside St James’ Gate. These adverts cover all conceivable wall space within the bar. A bookshelf sits at the beginning of the bar adding a homely element. The seating is unassuming and traditional.

With regard to the gargle, one certainly expects a fairly decent pint when such a plethora of Guinness artwork is encountered and we can gladly report that Brogan’s delivers on said expectation. We’ve always found the pint to not only be well-priced given the temple bar proximity factor (TBPF, a self-proclaimed mathematical/economical constant we’ve just decided to define this minute, formula to follow) but also to be of a high standard taste-wise too.

We’ve no anecdotes of note to recall at this moment unfortunately. The last time we were in was for a quick pre-Christmas Shopping pint and the cosiness was such that we weren’t to emerge for a further 6 hours after the shops had shut and not a present in sight. We’d certainly recommend Brogan’s, it’s yer only man for a pint before an Olympia gig and not a bad spot for a Christmas pint either (just get the shopping done first)

J.M Cleary’s – Amiens St.

Much had been said to me over the years about Cleary’s, it being an old haunt of Michael Collins. More recently to this visit someone told me of their sojourn here and how it contained a level of violence that the big fella himself would be familiar with.

With this disincentive foremost in my head, I reminded Pintman Nº2 upon our approach that we should harden up. Agreeing, he inspected our attire and whether it was appropriate for a hard inner city boozer. Immediately we agreed that he, being garbed in dirty building-site clobber, fitted the bill perfectly. Me on the other hand – not so much. It would happen to be on this day that I’d decided to premier a Simpsons t-shirt I’d been gifted which was as red as the pub’s signage. We entered with my jacket well zipped and our shoulders thrown back.

Arriving into the bright narrow bar we encountered none of the hostility we’d expected. The length of the pub is segmented with wooden partitions and the long bar is complimented with seating running opposite. Sitting at the bar we ordered two great pints.

After the first sup all of our discussion on the way in was forgotten and my jacket was off, revealing the ridiculous t-shirt. The barman, returning to our end of the bar soon clocked the shirt and issued a much unexpected compliment. He then glanced down to notice Pintman #2’s battered Star Wars keyring on the bar and the two struck up a conversation on the franchise’s recent release. Uninterested, I took a wander around to admire the portraits of Michael Collins which hung proudly on the walls.

Returning, I found the two still immersed in chat which was to be broken when the barman’s phone rang. His ringtone? – A Star Wars Theme, of course. In the interim of the call we’d finished our jar and the barman returned to service. We bade him a farewell as we exited and his retort to us is one I won’t forget.

– Seeya lads. Oh and may the force be with you.

I kept the head down and expedited my exit.

Don’t base opinions on word of mouth! Far from being the hardened inner city ale-house – Cleary’s is a welcoming pub where discussion on intergalactic wars is as welcome as speak on wars of independence.

The Snug: Stephen Street

Most of the time we aim for tactfulness here on DublinByPub, but other times you need to just tell things as they are. The Snug on Stephen Street is a mad kip! This is a boozer we’ve been in a couple of times over the years and we’ve never left without one story or another.

Take our first visit for example – during the summer a good five or so years ago a small enough group of us decided that it was about time we gave this pub a try. Shimmying past the cluster of smokers stationed upon the threshold – we burst through a literal smokescreen to be greeted by the turning of every single head in the room, an unnerving enough prospect at the time.

Once inside and with most gazes refocussed away once again patrons will begin to take in the look and feel of the pub. Well illuminated space furnished in similarly bright wooden tones provide the look of the pub and tend to pronounce shabbier elements of the room. Hastily hung posters advertising cheap lager provide the feel.

So given that this boozer isn’t exactly an ornate feast for the eyes you might wonder if it has any redeeming charm, and we would have to argue that it does. Victorian cornices and Edwardian wood carvings are fine and enjoyable but none are as entertaining as the locals in The Snug. Roughly attired and roughly voiced – they could easily be described as on the more rambunctious side of boisterous. Occupying the entire front end of the pub they had a day’s drinking under their belt when we arrived on this particular occasion.

Once we’d ordered and settled in with some seriously cheap pints (honestly these are about the cheapest in Dublin City Centre) we managed to catch the attention of one of the more vocal of the regulars. Standing to attention he noisily enquired as to whether we would like to buy any drugs, a question which was met with a cacophony of laughter from the front of the bar.

With full assurance that he was only winding us up given, he then came to join us whereupon he took a shine to one of our gang. Berating us for allowing a “lovely girl like that” to buy her own drink he beckoned the young barman who appeared from behind the bar for a moment only to disappear. Seeing this, our new pal explained to us that the barman had returned to retrieve the key from the register and proudly exclaimed: “I’ve robbed this place loads of times”. Reappearing, the barman took an order from our new mate who returned to the front of the pub only to arrive back to the table with a pint for the ‘lovely girl’. He was to send on two full pints for our pal who caught his eye, being nervous of the situation she decided against drinking them. Yours truly made sure they weren’t to go to waste.

We’d stop short of visiting here frequently ourselves. But we’ll certainly drop in once or twice again, if only for the stories…. and the cheap pints

The Long Hall: George’s Street

The Long Hall is an institution. Its candy cane flourished façade serves as an instantly recognizable beacon to even the most poorly-sighted of drinkers while conversely taunting and teasing thirsty commuters awaiting the bus across the road. Recently it was awarded the title of Dublin’s best pub, an accolade it holds alongside the honour of being 251 years old.

 

Sitting on that illusive part of George’s St where it transforms into Aungier St, The Long Hall is another exemplary snapshot of Victorian pub architecture – carpeted and painted in that shade of wine that was obviously going cheap back in the 1800s the pub will be a familiar sight to anyone who has set foot in any contemporary Victorian premises in the capital. Ornate woodwork and sepia toned portraits adorn the walls along with muskets and other such Victorian relics. The divine glimmering of glorious liquor behind the bar is emphasised by the installation of small tiled mirroring along the structural features of the woodwork.

It’s a very characterful pub and for all its Victorian charm, it’s not without some rock and roll credentials too – Phil Lynott sat forlornly at the bar of this pub in the video for his song ‘Old Town’. It’s also a well-known fact that Bruce Springsteen rarely visits our shores without dropping in for a pint.

For all the pros relating to The Long Hall there is unfortunately a con which we can’t overlook. The price of the pint. The sinking feeling that comes with receiving less change than expected is one I’m sure The Boss doesn’t have to concern himself with, but unfortunately us mere mortals aren’t afforded that particular luxury. Returning to the table I quietly whispered to myself that this ought to be the best pint I’d ever had… It was.

The Long Hall is a picture perfect example of the Dublin Pub and is not to be ignored by anyone seeking to experience a true representation of this city’s pub culture.

Lannigan’s: Eden Quay

Sometimes when we get to talking on the defining parameters that make a pub a pub we can get very particular on details. The one thing that we do agree upon is that we disagree on a great many points – slightly on some and heavily upon others. Having said that, we should say that we sometimes do get to exhaust the fumes of white smoke now and again, one such consensus we have managed to arrive at relates to a rule on hotel bars – namely that a hotel bar is not a pub!

It’s our argument that the vibe exuded in your bog standard hotel bar is a good light-year or two away from that one should expect in any self-respecting pub. This is due in no small part to the lighting, the seating and often the prices too. Hotel bar etiquette is often a far more formal experience than that of the pub wherein you might find yourself wondering whether to order at the bar or at your table while subconsciously watching your Ps and Qs too. Put simply – we’d rather be in the pub.

But as sure as all hotels have housekeepers who couldn’t give a toss about your hangover, all rules have their exceptions – which brings us nicely along to Lannigan’s.

Situated within the boundaries of the Clifton Court Hotel on Eden Quay – Lannigan’s has grown on us over the years. To say it has a few quirky bits and pieces upon the walls would be the grossest of understatements. Every conceivable piece of wall space in the bar has been plastered with knick-knacks and trinketry, so much so that visitors could easily spend their entire stay in the pub conversing solely about the paraphernalia littered around the walls.

Lit well, the pub is somewhat narrow and opens up toward the back. The pint has never steered us wrong and the staff are suitably proficient and pleasant in their pouring of said pint. The crowd is a good mix – you’ll find locals, tourists, afterworkers and actor’s alike. It’s also the place to bring that person in your life who is partial to an episode or two of Fair City now and again – we tend to see one or another of their cast any time that we call in.

A great pub, this – an exception to our own rules around bars in hotels and a convenient location for thirsty northbound commuters.

Molloy’s: Talbot St.

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


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

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

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

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

The Oval: Middle Abbey St.

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

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

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

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

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

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