Tag Archive for: early

Alike all the great cities in the world, dear Dublin of ours is one that is often defined by its most famed thoroughfares. We may not have avenues that garner attention on par with that afforded to the Champs-Élysées or Broadway, but there can be little doubt that our little metropolis is oft-characterized by the expanse of O’Connell Street darkened in the rebellious shade of the GPOs grandeur, or by the hustle and bustle of the Grafton streetscape vignetted in sound by the various buskers of the given day.

Slattery’s: Capel Street

Of course, there is little wrong with these scenes, they are what they are by no accident, but, as all keen and unkeen travellers alike will tell you – the real heart of any city is, more times than not, found off the beaten path. Hidden off in small side streets, where industry and old habits clamour against nightlife and gentrification, is the concentrated distillate of a city’s very essence.

Harbouring about as great a variance of energy as the underground pipes knocking about over on the continent around CERN, Capel Street is one of Dublin’s better examples of the streets described above. Serving as a main, yet narrow artery from Dorset Street as far as Grattan Bridge, it’s a street that pulls far more traffic than was ever intended. Acting as something of a demarcation between the end of the Henry Street shopping district and the beginning of the more residential setting that lies close to The Four Courts, it is a street that we would wager gets its unique energy from the variety of businesses that are to be found along its length. These contain, though are not limited to:

• Pubs
• Restaurants – both Dine-In and Take Away
• Charity Shops
• Barbers
• Sex Shops
• Antique Shops
• Electronic Repair Shops
• Music Shops
• A Hardware
• A Tool Shop
• Bookmakers
• A Pet Shop
• A Tattoo Parlour
• A Jewellers
• A Comic Book Store
• A Tailors
• A Workwear Shop
• A Model Shop
• A Hemp Shop

Sitting somewhere roughly around the middle of all of this is Slattery’s. Along the corner that facilitates the meeting of Mary Street Little and Capel Street, it strikes a more curved appearance than any other on the street. Complete with its Romanesque windows and striking façade, you could argue it to be the most unique-looking on the street.

Operating as a licenced premises since the 1800s, the pub boasts as having obtained the authority to operate as an early house in 1892 in order to cater to the once-bustling nearby market trade. Though trading through the Rising, The War of Independence and The Emergency, we would argue that the pub’s most notable contribution to Dublin and Irish history is its use as a music venue in the latter half of the 20th Century.

One doesn’t have to exhaust too much clicking power in their research of this pub to find that it happened to become a bit of a muso’s paradise from the 1960s onward. Catering for genres aplenty, it was the go-to venue for rockers, bluesmen, pipers, singers, and listeners galore. There are accounts of all sorts of different musical nights on the various floors of the pub: an acoustic night, a blues night and a number of different trad nights – a long-running one called The Tradition Club and another, The Mug’s Gig, organised by Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine – so-called as it took place on a Monday night.

The trad nights in the pub, by all account were legendary, a recording of a night at The Tradition Club survives and is available here. Cream of the crop participation wasn’t unusual with some of the evenings pulling in anyone from Seamus Ennis to Ronnie Drew up to Andy and Donal, and their pal, Christy Moore. Christy even namechecked the publican, Paddy Slattery in his song “Me And The Rose”.

Slattery's - Tradition Club
A Tracklist from a recording of a night in The Tradition Club (via JoeHeaney.org)

Phil Lynott is also said to have frequented the pub too, an account of him reciting some of his spoken word poetry at an acoustic night there is given by a pal of his, Ivan Pawle, in Graeme Thomson’s biography of Phillip. It would even seem that the pub’s ability to pull in the stars of stage and screen hasn’t waned too much given that it was the venue of choice for Anthony Bourdain when he wanted to make use of the early license for the cure and a fry in the Dublin edition of his TV show, The Layover.

Slattery’s is a good-looking pub, there’s little denying that. With its rectangular bar sat in the middle of the pub, it offers up plenty of choice in the ‘ol nook and cranny department. The matte-tiled floor, colourful in comparison to the rest of the pub’s dark wooden interior, contrasts well. And there’s a sort of museum redbrick wall adorned with ephemera relating to the 1916 Rising which flanks the stairs down to the toilet.

Whether as a result of the Bourdain visit or not, the pub would seem to be geared more so toward a tourist market these days. We found this to be evidenced, firstly, by a substantial collection of literature and leaflets about day trips and visitor experiences beside the entrance, and secondly, by the over-enthusiastic floor staff who tended to pester us with food menus and premature glass collection while we were there last.

Slattery's Capel St 3
A Membership Card for The Listener’s Club in Slattery’s.

Thirdly, and perhaps most conclusively, was our winding up on a crawl with a few Norwegians during this visit. Through a mouthful of snuss, one of these lads told us that they arrange a trip to Dublin every few years to satisfy their relish toward decent Guinness: fair play to them. Speaking of Guinness, Slatterys pours a decent one which warrants no negative commentary regarding taste. Financially, though, we found it less agreeable, it being relatively high to some of the neighbours (€5.60, as of May 2019). Though when our pals from Norway told us about the fifteen quid price tag, apiece, on their pints back home, admittedly, it didn’t feel so bad.

So be ye celebrity chef, ballad singer extraordinaire or stout-thirsty Scandinavian, we can only offer you the same advice we’ve been doling out to one and all for many’s the year. Namely that Capel Street is one of Dublin’s greater drinking streets, due in no small part to the fact that it has no bad pubs, and Slattery’s is most certainly no exception to that.

‘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

M Hughes: Chancery St.

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!

Early houses are strange places in modern-day Dublin when you think about it. The Chancery Inn, situated near an extensive Victorian fruit-and-veg market must have surely seen its fair share of early morning custom over the years but with the forward march of progress the early morning crowd has certainly thinned out over the last few decades and the work hardened night shifters are less of a familiar sight. Today the more likely patrons of early houses are the session monsters that need to keep the party going for just a few more precious hours.

I’d often wonder if the few remaining of the old guard like or loathe modern-day’s early house demographic. Anyhow, we’ve only been to the chancery a handful of times amongst ourselves and never in the morning so we can’t comment any further in that regard.

The Chancery Inn: Inns Quay

I’ve always enjoyed the subtle irony in the legend that The Chancery is said to be the first port of call for persons released from Mountjoy Prison, given its overtly judicial title. I wonder if the convicts who started the tradition knew what they were at. We last paid a visit to this establishment on a Sunday afternoon in the week leading up toward Christmas, and no – it wasn’t on the back of a stretch inside.

The pub wasn’t all that busy and we did turn a few local heads upon our entry. We first noted that this is a dog-friendly pub given that a family sat to the front of the boozer, dog and all. We called for two pints and took in the surroundings. The lighting was of a fairly agreeable level and the overall style of the pub wasn’t too harsh on the eyes. Exposed brick and weathered wooden flooring meld well with the burgundy seating. There are no surprising features to note, other than a Gothic arched door; all in all, it’s a rough and ready Dublin pub of old.

Largely our visit was an uneventful one here. The atmosphere was quiet enough and the different groups within the pub were so spaced away from each other that we just chatted among ourselves before tipping on elsewhere. The pint was grand and there was no reason we wouldn’t return. Perhaps we’ll pencil it in for a DBP early house special someday.

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 toilet, which waged a fully-fledged assault on even the most insensitive of olfactory setups.


Having entered Molloy’s on 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 wank 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 in lighting 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.