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Dublin! It’s a city, if the annals of internet comment sections are to be believed, that divides opinion. And while pub-dwellers prone to over-romanticisation, such as ourselves, are ten a penny – there’s also a hefty cohort out there in the world who refuse to base their opinions of our native city on anything other than the darker end of the full spectrum.

Though our official line is one attesting to the craic and beauty being in plentiful supply, we’re not so ignorant as to equate Dublin to some utopia and even we like to take the road out sometimes in search of an atmosphere where urbanity doesn’t abound. Where settings are a little, if not a lot, more rural.

Thankfully when such pangs kick in and when time or money won’t allow – we can achieve something akin to a rural encounter without having to travel so far. Sometimes an experience bordering on bucolic can be had mere minutes from the city centre – we’re referring, of course, to a pub which rightly calls itself an authentic country pub in Kilmainham – The Old Royal Oak.

The Old Royal Oak: Kilmainham Lane

In researching the name of this pub, I can’t say with any great degree of confidence that we’ve managed to establish its exact origin. Some say that there must be a tie with the nearby Royal Hospital given its inclusion of the word royal, but in the course of our research we’ve come to establish our own particular theory. We have previously touched upon the genesis of some modern pub names in our post about The Deer’s Head and similar to that, we’ve found ourselves looking back toward our old colonial neighbour for answers. You see, it so happens that an abundance of pubs across in the UK have names containing any given permutation of the words royal, oak and old. And as you might imagine, there’s a good reason for this.

Way back in the 1600s during The English Civil War, Royalists and Parliamentarians were having a bit of a disagreement. And this disagreement was of such severity that it brought about the need for a battle in the town of Worcester. Possibly about governance, possibly about sauce, who knows? Anyway, King Charles, the king to be; not the dog, being head of the Royalists and a bit of a useless prick to boot – decided that he had scant chance of survival when pitted against Lord Protector and cunt of the last millennium – Oliver Cromwell, Ollie being head-honcho of the opposing side. Opting to hide away from all the bloodshed, Charlie sought refuge – and as the story goes, found it in the relative sanctuary of a big oak tree.

Fast forward a decade or so and the civil war is over, Chaz is back on the throne and is regaling everyone with the tale of the time he was shielded from danger by a big bastard of an oak tree. So Brits being Brits – they start writing songs and naming boozers after this Royal Oak, as it had been dubbed.

Let it be known that our guess, educated by the fact that The Old Royal Oak was first opened as a pub when British rule still reigned over this country, is that this pub took its name – as so many others across the Irish Sea did – from that tree in the middle of England. And if it didn’t then so be it. We still managed to get around to calling Ollie Cromwell a bollox in at least one of the things we’ve posted on this website.

The Oaker is a pub that would seem to espouse the principle that less is more – the bar, a one-roomed, undivided space, is characterised by its simplicity. Upon entrance you’ll observe low seating on your left and a medium sized bar to the right. Seating, while not in short supply, is limited and when the place fills up it fills up fast. We commandeered a few stools up near the bar just in the nick of time when we last visited. Decoration is made up of the usual cavalcade of ephemera you might find in traditional pubs – paintings and pictures of local landscapes and landmarks, old drink adverts, framed jerseys and a few flags on the ceiling too, just for good measure.

I’d made my first visit here in the company of Pintman №5, who rates this pub as his favourite in the city. My fears of disagreeing with him were quickly allayed as we settled in to a few pints and he pointed out an elderly lady perched on a stool at the end of the bar. Describing her as “a little dreamboat” he informs me that she is the owner, or related to the owner as it may be.

When the time comes to use the jaxx, I’m reminded by my companion to inspect the snug while en-route – and I’m glad that take this instruction. Peering through the unassuming door I find myself in a space that is more family – living room than pub-snug. Its cosy inhabitants, all of whom are glued to a match on the TV, react to my interruption with the same sort of perplexity you might to a perfect stranger wandering into your own sitting room. I return to the bar extoling the cosiness this snug to my companions before demanding of them that we sit in there upon our next visit. We will!

Pintwise, we’re in dream territory here €4.80 on our last visit (which was Nov 2018, way too long ago) and a decent skinful sunk with great pleasure. Pintman №5 indulged in a toasty on that occasion too and it looked the part.

Out and out this is a fine establishment. One I wish was in more of a convenient location relative to a northsider such as myself. The pub too is also a great lesson for all new and prospective publicans thinking of going for that big revamp. Simplicity can be effective, if the place is run right.

It’s early afternoon on a bitter February morning and I’m huddled around the graveside of Fenian Leader – Jeremiah O Donovan Rossa with another dozen cold persons on a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery. An actor in full Irish Volunteer regalia is in the throes of his re-enacting of Padraig Pearse’s famous graveside oration. The wind is whipping up in short frenzied bursts which are shaking the surrounding trees, strong trees – nourished on the since-decayed flesh of patriot dead. Haphazardly, this wind is spraying a pin-prick icy drizzle laterally toward my face, aiding it in its apparent attempt to render all exposed flesh numb.

I’m entirely sure that February is a fine month for a great number of things, but even more certain am I that Saint Brigid herself would agree that this is no optimal month for traipsing about on consecrated grounds for prolonged periods in the frost. After an hour or so the otherwise enjoyable tour ends and before I can speak the reddened faces of my companions render moot the question I have in my head. We are all in telepathic agreement that the time has come to seek shelter from the cold – and our chosen location for such is another thing that Brigid would’ve probably been agreeable to, her being the patron saint of beer, and all. We are bound for Kavanagh’s, The Gravediggers.

John Kavanagh (The Gravediggers’): Prospect Avenue

At this particular point in time our having never been to the pub is a shame we carry in secret. We fancy ourselves as knowing a thing or two about the most well-regarded pubs in Dublin and we’re repeatedly deflecting suggestions and changing subjects in order to try and conceal the awful truth. And with this comes the expectation, the hype. It’s not possible for this pub, good and all as we’re sure it will be, to live up to the standard our respective unconsciousness set for their waking counterparts. We find our way out of the cemetery and push back the heavy iron gate and proceed toward the battered wooden door. The world stops. It’s glorious.

Before long, the eight or so of us are burrowed intimately into the last remaining enclave which shier groups, similar in size, might have regarded as too small. Scatters of pints begin to arrive from the bar and arouse, in the faces of their recipients, the sort of joy you might expect to see on that of an exhausted mother postnatally cradling her new-born moments after birth.

Gravedigger's 2

With that, the heat has returned to our faces and the pints and conversation flow in synonymy. Outside, a mutinous streak of sunlight gasps from the grey clouds which could not conceal it, it passes through the windows at the front of the pub and works as best as it can to illuminate the pub before ultimately becoming choked out by the shade therein. And with the light and shade in battle and the joviality and expressiveness around the place you could easily convince yourself that you were inside the frame of a Vermeer or a Caravaggio, if you wanted to. .

This pub is the archetypal Dublin pub – but not just in appearance. A family run boozer with strong community ties, it’s the very essence of what a Dublin pub should be and the yardstick against which all others should be measured. This is the original model of what so many imposters unfruitfully seek to recreate for profit or for glory. To walk into the sepia-toned confines of this pub is to step squarely into the past – each feature is as characterful as the next: be it the smoke-stained ceiling, the bark chipped table or the saloon doors. There is no coincidence in the fact that the pub has been used in countless TV and movie productions to elicit a sense of days gone by.

And it’s entirely apt that the pub, which opened in 1833, is used for historical programming, as it’s dripping in lore and history. I’ll assume that everyone is already au fait with one about the afters of Luke Kelly’s funeral, and forego that for now. Even more interesting, as Luke too I’m sure would agree, is the fact that the pub and the set of customers whom gave it its name are responsible for some of the lingo that’s still commonplace in the modern lexicon. During the war, when glass was in short supply, they say that the grave diggers, weary from their work in the adjoining cemetery, would adjourn for a drink and offer up earthenware jam-jars for the purpose of being used as receptacles for their well-earned beer. From there the phrase “are ye goin’ for a jar” was born.

The pub, they say, is also responsible for the main entrance to Glasnevin Cemetery having to be relocated away from Prospect Avenue to its current one on The Finglas road. It seems that the delays resulting from mourners who couldn’t resist a liquid detour before the coffin was lowered into the soil were so bad that the only way to combat it was to build an entire new entrance.

I suppose I should get on to the pint. This is as good as it gets folks, each and every one is a showstopper and I make no hesitation in saying that this pint is the best in Dublin. This fact then, by proxy makes the pint of Guinness in The Gravediggers the best in the country, which in turn then makes it the best pint in the world. And what’s more is that it’s always charged at a fair price too, the lads could probably charge six quid a pop if they wanted to, but they won’t, the last time we managed to get up that way it was going for €4.80 a measure. A bargain!

So anyone who’s followed our ramblings for the last few years will know that we’ve been a while trying to convey our love for this pub through text. A while being measured in years in this case. I think we’ll never manage to write something that we’re 100% happy with so we’re going to convince ourselves that this one is good enough because if we don’t we’d only end up writing a full book on the pub, which I suppose we couldn’t rule out into the future either.

Sitting in the middle of the Caribbean Sea there lies a small city on the northern coast of Panama with a population of five thousand people. This city boasts a tropical maritime climate and a quick search online shows me that it’s currently bathing in a sunshine which has brought a temperature in the region of the high twenties. This is in stark contrast to the current Irish weather conditions which have, in the last few days, began to exude that icy November chill that has you finally digging out your biggest coat from the back of the wardrobe. Thankfully I’m sheltered from said iciness, but less thankfully is the fact that I’m in work – in a drab office block, and aside from writing this, I’m also neglecting my professional duties by perusing a collection of images of this little city mentioned above. It’s a picturesque place – dense forest-like growth buffers between land and sky on all inland horizons while horizons off into the Caribbean look just as exotic as you might expect The Caribbean would.

J O’Connell’s: South Richmond St.

I’m sure some of you might be starting to wonder where I’m going with this. Well, the reason why I’m harping on about such a far-flung place is namely down to the fact that in the last few weeks – we happened to have a pint in an area of Dublin which not only is a namesake of this Caribbean town, but happens to have actually been named after it. The area we refer to is Portobello.

So as it would turn out, this fair little canal-side district was so named, not after a type of mushroom, as yours truly had thought, but instead from the occasion of some aul colonial English prick getting one over on some aul colonial Spanish bollox. This delightful little bloodbath, which happened in 1739 is now referred to as The War of Jenkins’ Ear. But enough about that.

J O’Connell’s, from what we can tell, is an old boozer. Our limited research skills haven’t managed to date it, but a record in ‘Thom’s Almanac and Official Directory for the Year 1862’ lists a Mr Walter Furlong – a grocer and spirit dealer, as it’s occupant. A further record from an electoral register dated between 1908 and 1915 describes the building as being a ‘Licensed House’. What’s nice though about this pub, though, is the fact that none of that is rammed down your throat. Nowadays we live in such a marketing-centric time, and it’s of particular annoyance to us when a pub which is barely opened a wet day bombards its patrons and potential patrons with a PR-spun, contrived ‘back-story’, which takes more than enough of its fair share of artistic license when deciding on how liberal to be with the truth. In J O’Connell’s this is no concern.

What you do get here is an authentic Dublin boozer. The colour scheme is one that I can’t come to describe without mention of the word – festive. Glossy reds and greens cast a warming glow on the pub which is of a medium size overall. High seating is available at the bar only and a traditional combination of pub couches and low stools make up the rest. The walls display a good mix of the usual fare – horses, GAA, local history and some nice portraits of Brendan Behan & Co. Mix nicely along with the whiskey and beer trinkets about the place. Pintman Nº2 was taken with the arrangement of the shelving behind the bar and I noticed the barrel end of a few casks which sat into the bar, as they would have in the era before mainstream bottling. I wondered if they were an original feature at the time, I’m less uncertain now having discovered the age of the place.

The vibe when we visited was quite a chilled one – a mix of young and old locals sat ensconced into various corners engrossed in quiet conversation. The radio was kept low enough and was playing Billie Holiday, or Billy Holiday-esque sort of tunes – we all agreed it an unusual set of tunes in the context of Dublin pubs en-masse, but too agreed that they suited the mood perfectly. The staff were excellent, the barman was on the ball with service and barely allowed us to leave our seats to obtain a jar. The pint was a bargain at €4.80 and was as satisfying on the palate as it was on the pocket.

J O’Connell’s is one of the true undiscovered gems in Dublin’s landscape of pubs. And yes, the Panama Canal may be more impressive than The Grand, and there’s little doubt that the weather in the Carribean is nicer than ours. But who wants to be drinking rum in a wicker hut with sand down your trousers when you could instead be cuddled into a couch with a pint of plain in Portobello. I know which one I fancy more.

‘Ah there’s Barney now’ exclaimed a half drunk local sitting at the bar of The Lord Edward on a Saturday afternoon. Having heard the statement our attention was drawn to a man making his way toward the front door of the pub – the man, who was wearing a hoody coloured in a striking shade of magenta similar to that worn by the children’s television dinosaur, responded with an aggressive cluelessness – ‘What the fuck are yis on about? Barney?’

The Lord Edward: Christchurch Place.

‘Never you mind Barney’, responded another of the locals as his friend began in a chorus of ‘I Love You, You Love Me’. Instinctively the rest of the men gathered around the bar, ourselves included, joined in with the singalong. At this point the penny finally dropped for Barney – ‘Ah fuck de lotta yis’ he responded with some whimsy – a retort which was received with more laughter. Myself and Pintman №2, being in the closest proximity to Barney joined in on the laughter too – this prompted him to change his disposition from that of a whimsical one to an aggressive seriousness delivered with a brand of abruptness that would easily befit Joe Pesci. Enquiring as to what the fuck me and Pintman №2 were laughing at, Barney left just enough momentary discomfort before relaxing us with his return to whimsy once again. We resumed our laughter as he finally exited for his smoke and having remarked amongst ourselves that people would pay good money to see such a scene in The Abbey or The Gate, we continued laughing well beyond the time the man had returned.

This is The Lord Edward! Our most beloved Dublin watering hole – sitting across from Christchurch Cathedral in the heart of Dublin’s historical Viking quarter, we would argue that this is one of the last great unspoilt Dublin Boozers. Now when we say spoilt, we don’t mean destroyed – but it’s fair to say that a pub or two around town can be described as victims of their own popularity when peak times roll around. Here in The Lord Edward there are no t-shirts for sale behind the bar and the pint (which is as good, if not better, when compared to the likes of your Mulligans and your Palaces) is modestly priced, containing no added popularity tax.

You can find a good variation of demographics in here on most days and have all sorts of experiences too. Given this and the multifaceted nature of the man whose name it bears I’d tend to argue that this is a well named pub. Only recently did my curiosity pique to such a level that I actually set about finding out exactly who Lord Edward was and let me tell you – Lord Eddy Fitzgerald was some boyo for one boyo! Born into a well ranked family, he would go on to undertake a few occupations during his lifetime and earn himself the titles of soldier, explorer, parliamentarian and ultimately a revolutionary aligned with the United Irishmen in the late 1700s. A sound aul skin altogether.

The pub’s overall look is afforded by dark wood and a regal shade of green which covers some of the walls and the linoleum and carpet flooring – the lino sits to the front of the pub and the carpet being further in. Wooden dividers mark defined sections from one another and a horseshoe bar allows the staff to serve the entire bar with relative ease. The lads behind the bar themselves are about as sound as the bells that chime across the road in the cathedral – having never given us a moment’s grief or nark, maybe even when it might have been warranted after a skinful.

We had a good moment’s luck when we were in last summer. A good 12 or so of us had gathered for a few scoops with Pintman №3 who had repatriated for a few days to attend a wedding. In the midst of the craic going well the gang had begun indulging in one of their favourite pastimes, one which prior experience told us was ok in this boozer – taking me to task on my dress.

Now it may not have shone through on DublinByPub heretofore but as it turns out I’m not exactly the fashion conscious type. Given this, and the fact that I consider the act of shopping for clothes to be a form of torture that shares exclusive parity with waterboarding – I tend to end up donning some hastily chosen getups that don’t exactly break the bank.

So this particular evening the company I was keeping were deconstructing my latest t-shirt which was of the type that can be bought for €3 in a well-known budget clothes shop. The shirt followed the usual design specification set out by this company and depicted a foreign placename and an object – in this case they being Knoxville and a motorcycle. In the course of this ridicule I allowed my gaze to wander and became aware of a middle aged couple who were peering through the window and looking directly at me. Seeing an opportunity for a change of subject, I decided to beckon them in to pub with a hand gesture – an offer they immediately accepted.

Having entered the pub they moved swiftly toward our table capturing the full attention of the 12 people sat around it in the process. The woman, completely unfazed by all this, stood immediately beside me and with her broad American accent loudly enquired “What’s the deal with this Knoxville t-shirt?” Of course this particular question, at this particular time warranted laughter from everyone at the table except me, so loud was this laughter that I’d say it was heard by the poor creatures hauled up in the crypt of Christchurch across the road.

After things settled and I’d explained the concept of ‘Thanx hun, Penney’s’ to our two new pals from Knoxville, Pintman №3 insisted they settle in for a few jars – which they did. Thereafter followed a great few hours – having the chats and knocking the craic out of visitors to the city is always good fun, even more so when one of them decides to order a dozen Jemmys for the table as a final gesture before disappearing away into the night.

There wasn’t a peep out of the table about anyone’s t-shirt when sixty quid’s worth of Jameson was being thrown down the collective hatch. And when the topic of my clothing does manage to rear its ugly head I do like to remind my so-called friends how my €3 t-shirt paid for itself a literal 20 times over that night in the hope that it may quell the jeers and the slags – it doesn’t.

We couldn’t really love this pub any more if we tried. Be sure to nip in for a pint and try it out for yourself soon.

Sitting at the mouth of the Liberties lies a street which is as intrinsically Dublin as a bowl of coddle on hill sixteen. The Coombe is said to have been a valley which was carved by a tributary which fed the river which gave birth to Dublin: The Poddle. Arguably this valley is still feeding the lifeblood of Dublin by dishing out creamy scoops to welcome folk beyond the boundaries of the Liberties.

Fallon’s: The Coombe

Sitting at the mouth of the Liberties lies a street which is as intrinsically Dublin as a bowl of coddle on hill sixteen. The Coombe is said to have been a valley which was carved by a tributary which fed the river which gave birth to Dublin: The Poddle. Arguably this valley is still feeding the lifeblood of Dublin by dishing out creamy scoops to welcome folk beyond the boundaries of the Liberties.

In our exploration of the pubs of Dublin we’ve visited many places and the truth being told, sometimes one has to scratch under the surface to seek out the magic of a premises. But that said, sometimes you know you’re on hallowed ground the minute you cross the threshold of a pub. Of these sorts of pubs Fallon’s is the latter.

We’ve been in Fallon’s a few times over the last month and both busy and quiet occasions and we’ve had some ups and some downs.

Visually the pub could not be mistaken for any other type than that of the Irish variety. Eyes that enjoy the sight of a good traditional pub will light up upon entry. The floor is unvarnished, un-sanded and scuffed to perfection. A relatively large snug occupies much of the front of the small pub. The exposed tan brickwork add further to the place’s primitive aesthetic. A large cast iron stove/range sits at the rear of the room, the walls surrounding which bear the scars of harbouring such a device. Varied drinking ephemera alongside historical framings of local interest occupy wall space throughout.

The crowd here tends to consist of a mix of younger locals mixed in with a few elders and a couple of tourists for good measure too. As for the pint. This was in the top three of the year. We wondered if a pipe ran directly from James’ gate such was the calibre of creaminess. And under a fiver too. This pint was an undeniable 10/10.

The pub is definitely a hidden gem when it comes to older untouched places in the city. The only detractors from the experience are an unwaveringly narky Barman and a bit of a stinky jaxx. But these probably wouldn’t discourage us from visiting again.

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.

Toner’s: Baggot St:

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.

It was one of them poxy November evenings where the depression onset from daylight savings’ early darkness had begun to set in. The rain was pissing out of the heavens and train was rammed. A pint was in order. As I drew closer to town I fumbled amongst the crush to retrieve my phone and made a call to Pintman №2, inquiring after the progress he himself was making into town. “Still in poxy work!” says he. “Bollix to that” says I.” Grab a spot somewhere and I’ll follow ya in sure” says he. “Grand” says I.

The Swan: Aungier St.

So after disembarking I wander up Westland Row and head toward the Grafton St. area. A quick bit of sustenance and I’m on the look out for a pub only to make the unfortunate realisation that everywhere is jammed with the only thing worse than the Christmas party crowd: The early Christmas party crowd. All of them carefully gowned in their illuminated woolly jumpers and fluffy red hats.

In the midst of my frantic dash around the South City Centre trying to find any boozer with a spare spot and a lingering degree of cosiness, I find myself pushing ever so further out of the city. And then as I wander around by the back of the College of Surgeons, it comes to me. The Swan! Of course! Up to the swan I hastily traipse to find the place reasonable populated and with enough spare seats to lighten my mood. No sooner have I placed my sopping coat on a high stool do I have a good pint of plain in my hand and all is okay once again.

The Swan as it turned out was the best possible pub to arrive into from a rainy November night. Another Victorian gem with all the furniture and fixings one should expect from a Victorian spot. A marble bar runs the length and is nicely complimented by the mosaic tiling on the floor. Another essential visit for seekers of authentic historic Dublin Pubs.

Content again I make another phonecall to Pintman №2 who is less than impressed having found himself on a stationary train. “Why is it stuck?” says I. “There’s a swan on the tracks at Landsdowne” says he. “Jaysis” says I. “Where did ye settle in the end” says he. “The Swan” says I. “Fuck off” says he.

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.

The Long Hall: George’s Street

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.

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.

The Oval: Middle Abbey St.

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.