Toner’s can be described as many things in the landscape of Dublin Pubs but when it comes to us here at DBP we tend to describe Toner’s as the snug lover’s pub. For those unfamiliar with the term snug, allow us to explain.
The snug is a historical feature of an Irish or English pub. It’s essentially a seating area which has been sectioned off from the general space of the rest of a pub. Historically snugs were a means to facilitate women in an age when it was deemed unladylike for a woman to be seen drinking in public. They were also said to provide sanctuary for the likes of policemen, politicians and other such public figures who preferred not to be seen in open public during the course of their drinking. Generally snugs were situated to the front of a pub and allowed access to the bar from within. Relatively few of them remain in the city and they have become installations much beloved by the drinking public.
We last visited Toner’s of a Friday afternoon and managed to snag the snug. Leaving the entrance open we gazed at an old Bass advertisement which had been affixed to the door. The ad featured an image of legendary folk group The Dubliners suitably snapped holding obligatory pints of Bass. Gazing further at the image we happened to notice that it was taken at the very snug within which we were sitting.
Thinking of the Dubliners, I realised them to be a perfect way to describe Toner’s. The Dubliners, not being dissimilar to the like of The Beatles, were a group that contained several world class musicians whom could all hold their own amongst one another, musically speaking. Not one could eclipse the other, and Toner’s sitting among greats like O’Donoghue’s and Doheny & Nesbitts certainly holds its own and could never be eclipsed by its neighbouring boozers.
Getting down to brass tacks, the pint was fantastic; priced for town, but creamy as the night is long. We intended to nip in for one and stayed for at least three. The décor is traditional – worn dark wood, burgundy hues, drinking and writer ephemera – an absolute jewel to a pub lover’s eyes. The jaxx is entirely at odds with what one expects from the bar; brand new, spacious and clean as a whistle. We’re not normally in the business of commenting on beer gardens but the massive one out the back of Toner’s is a sight to behold.
Toner’s is the quintessential Dublin pub. It’s George Harrison, it’s Barney McKenna. It’s an absolute must.