Joyce, Plunkett and Why We Should Name a Metro Station After The Brian Boru Pub

Come as a surprise, Leixlip, Clonsilla. Dropping down lock by lock to Dublin. With turf from the midland bogs. Salute. He lifted his brown straw hat, saluting Paddy Dignam.

They drove on past Brian Boroimhe house. Near it now.

James Joyce, Ulysses, 1920

A hearse and mourning coaches stood empty outside the Brian Boru House waiting, while the mourners, their kinsman already buried, consoled themselves with alcohol.

James Plunkett, Strumpet City, 1969

It might be apt, that when you bundle together the two most notable quotes referring to The Brian Boru Pub from Irish Literature, that you realise they both refer to funerals. Some might, but we would never suggest that Joyce and Plunkett, both, had channelled their inner Nostradamus when they each set out to write their respective legendary Dublin novels – and even though we’d bet this week’s wages on it being a case of the latter tipping their hat to the former, there remains the shadow of some eerie prophecy about the whole thing.

For those not in the know, Hedigan’s Pub, better known as The Brian Boru or the Brian Boru House, is not long for this world. The long, long-awaited and often-doubted Dublin Metro Project has apparently gotten its act together at last and is gearing up to break ground. As part of the planned works, comes the demolition of the Brian Boru House and its replacement as one of the main stations along the route.

And, geographically it’s easy enough to see why that makes sense. The pub, as it stands is very much a landmark in the area – sitting directly beside the Royal Canal and being festooned with a colourful mural of former High King of Ireland, Brian Boru – who is said to have assembled some of his army on the site before The Battle of Clontarf, giving the pub its name – the pub is one you couldn’t but help use as a nodal point in any directions you might find yourself giving to anybody who required them and who would have to pass by on the way to, or from somewhere.

With the Gravediggers to the north and The Hut to the south, we’ll admit to a level of distraction over the years, leaving us to not give this pub the attention it duly deserves. It’s more of a labyrinthine building than its façade would suggest and seems to, at different parts of its interior, include all the elements of what one would anticipate in a traditional pub – wooden, tiled and carpeted flooring, a carvery bar tucked somewhere down the back, brass fixtures, ornate mirrors spelling the names of whiskey brands in gold leaf, and so on.

And while we’d love to spin you all a yarn about some interesting interaction we had there, during some visit or another, like we normally would try to in these posts, we’re not here to do this today. We wanted to put this post together simply as a marker: a marker that maybe we’ve suspended our long-held doubts that Metro North would ever break ground. And just as a marker to remember this ordinary, yet historic pub that has been on this site for over a century.

And if the above isn’t very clear about what this post is, let us be more direct about what it isn’t. It’s not a call to arms for the cessation of any planned works.

We’d have happily called for the cessation of some works down the years that have relieved this city of some of its pubs (here’s looking at you The Long Stone), but this is different. This is something that should benefit the greater good – no one needs to sell the idea of improving public transport to us here in this blog – a blog that follows the efforts of two driver-license-less pintmen to traverse the city and visit its public houses.

But there’s no reason that we can’t, in what will become our newly built heritage, tip our hat to our old built heritage. From our perspective, we would deem Dublin, and indeed Ireland to be behind the curve when it comes to recognising the fundamental part that public houses constitute in our shared culture and heritage. Well-known voices within the architectural community have already called for our pubs to be afforded UNESCO status, and such ideas are not mere virtue signalling, either – Berlin recently had their city’s techno scene added to a UNESCO cultural heritage list.

Some have called for the new Metro Station to bear a name that refers to the pub which currently sits on the site, and we think that this would be entirely fitting – so much so that we’ve set up a petition. If you happen to agree with us, please add your name by clicking the link below:

Name The Phibsborough Metro Stop After The Brian Boru Pub

Join the call to have Phibsborough’s Metro Station named after the Brian Boru Pub, which is a cultural landmark in the area.

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