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Ever since Molly wheeled her barrow up the road from those pelt-peddling pricks down at the mouth of Grafton Street and plonked herself where it’s supposed that the Vikings once erected the thingmote, their version of Dundrum Shopping Centre, you could argue that the most westward point of Suffolk street has been subject to something of a rejuvenation.

It’s here outside St Andrew’s church that you might listen to the portrayal of fiction as fact when steady throngs of tourists are corralled around the likeness of the city’s most famous mythical brasser only to have her described as if she were as real as Tone or Collins. And as you watch these tourists, one by one, mount Molly’s plinth and degrade the cause of feminism one brush of her brass bust at a time you might think to yourself that it’s not ideal but that it could be worse – it’s only a statue after all and where’s the harm in a few Yanks thinking of her as once actually alive… alive-o. It’s also probably apt enough that O Neill’s is the public house which sits upon this site because it, to me, falls into this same category as the scene aforementioned – it’s not ideal, but it could be worse.

Relative to our, ahem, studies… this bar is quite a notable one insofar that it’s the first where we can conclusively state a connection to James Joyce, a good pub does not make. And yes, this is another pub with strong links to JJ himself, it being featured in Counterparts – one of the short stories contained in Dubliners. In this story we meet Farrington, a legal secretary whose vitriol toward his superiors is severe enough that it manages to manifest itself as a thirst. And such is the insistence of this thirst on the day that Counterparts is set, that Farrington heads off on his afternoon break to quench it:

He was now safe in the dark snug of O’Neill’s shop, and filling up the little window that looked into the bar with his inflamed face, the colour of dark wine or dark meat, he called out: “Here, Pat, give us a g.p., like a good fellow.” The curate brought him a glass of plain porter.

Thankfully the standard of the jar seems that it was up to a higher level back at that time for if Jim happened to be writing about my maiden visit to the pub he’d be flinging his lingual prowess at describing how the curate poured my drink into a near empty and used vessel in one single pour and offered to sell it to me at full price. A decade on that still gives me the shivers.

I don’t know whether its just the size of the pub of the proliferation of taps, but the drink in here tends to be an issue more so than it should be. Personally, and anecdotally (off and online) we hear of bad pints galore in here (check out the Guinness we came across on twitter recently in the picture.) and with the price tag of €5.50 a go, the standard should be far higher.

Aesthetically the pub has its ups and its downs. Traditionally decorated, the front bar is resplendent with wood alike all other show piece pubs of the Victorian age around the city. It would be my pick of the many sections on offer especially seen as it’s good and out of sight of the dreaded carvery bar – a feature which Pintman №2, №3 and I have spent plenty of time arguing about. I should also, at this point, mention that the two lads aren’t quite as anti-O Neill’s as myself, their assessment of the place being an adequate one for taking in a match or two. But I think I might have them on the ropes about it these days.

Returning to the point made earlier on, and while not my pick of the bunch, O Neill’s is a pub that isn’t quite as bad as it could be. But with the touristification of Dublin ongoing it’s most certainly following the cash in the wrong direction. And what a shame it is to find that a pub with such fine potential to sit up top with the big leaguers would seem to be having it’s genuine cultural bonafides paddy whacked into a twee tourist only experience. Something which I suppose the quare one outside knows all too well.

It was a few weeks back that I’d let go of that last vague mumbling thought that I might catch the last bus home and left it up to the gods to decide whether I’d make it into work the next day or not. I was seven or so pints into an ill-advised school night session and I’d just returned back to our table from the bar, empty handed. The lads were none too impressed.

Explaining that the barman had taken ownership of the delivery of the pints to the table I inadvertently provided the topic for our first discussion within the confines of Sheehan’s of Chatham Street – whether the utterance of the words ‘I’ll drop them down to ya’ from the person behind the bar is something that you like or dislike hearing.

So the lads, Pintman №2 and №5, are in plenty of argumentative form on this particular evening and it doesn’t take them long to chime in with their own opinions on the subject. Unsurprisingly enough both of their standings are directly opposed to my own. Unbalanced and prone to spillage as I am, I’m entirely for the motion at hand – help is always appreciated. So long as it comes in good time!

The lads though aren’t of the same opinion. A round to them, as it turns out, is sacred. A time honoured ritual that drinkers have participated in since the beginning of time. This pact is revered by the lads to such a degree that their guardianship of the pints involved in their own round is something they speak of as if it were on par with the weight of responsibility Tolkien foisted upon Frodo to get the one ring back to Mordor. And woe betide any bar staff who should seek to interfere with this.

But my opinion isn’t to be changed on this occasion and as I reveal the pub’s staggering €5.70 price tag on a pint of Guinness, I tell the lads that for that price, I’m not only expecting them to be delivered to the table but to also be done so by someone in the nip, doing a little dance. Thankfully no debate is warranted from this statement – there is unanimity around the table on the motion of €5.70 being an exorbitant price for a pint. It’s even suggested that it may be the reason as to why there isn’t anyone other than us three fuckin eejits in such a nice and centrally located pub of a midweek summer’s evening.

It’s all a bit of a shame really because Sheehan’s is a pub I could easily come to like, maybe even love – with just a few minor tweaks. Obviously, the price of the jar will need to come down to a figure in line with the wage of the common person – that’s a given. Then we’ll need to sort out the lingering bang of grub that seems to perpetually hang about the air in the place.

But with those said, we should also say that there’s plenty we wouldn’t change about the pub. From our research, we note that it’s in family ownership – and has apparently been so since the thirties! That’s always a great trait for a pub to have. It also needs to be considered that the pub is a fine looking shop altogether. Small to medium in size – its mild wooden tones set out the pub’s mellow palette, exposed brick and dividers tie in with this to bring the whole space together. And it comes together nicely. The seats are comfy, the lighting is perfect and the layout is spot on. If we were somehow gifted the pub in the morning we wouldn’t change so much as a splinter sticking out of a floorboard.

We’re sorry to have to repeat ourselves here by speaking of shame once again but it is a shame that this pub isn’t one of the greats. A crying shame! Even when you consider the legendary institutions within the vicinity, this, we believe, is a pub that has the making of something fantastic. It’s a premises that could be easily be standing on the shoulders of the nearby giants of the Dublin pub landscape, but unfortunately – as of now – it’s not even fit to lick their boots.

Recently I found myself struck by a thought as I wandered in amongst the vibrancy and boisterousness of the beloved melting pot of ethnicity and street traders that is Moore Street. In the lead up to this I was pondering a subject far from the reality that surrounded me in the market of Moore St. – English Peerage. The Peerage of England, for the purpose of this article, is something we’d describe as an umbrella term for all of the silly bollock-talk regarding dukes, barons, viscounts and other such made up titles that happen to get bandied about by our nearest neighbours to the east. And the reason as to why I’d been thinking this deeply about such a thing in public was the same reason as always – the pub!

The Duke on Duke Street, it seems was named after some aul codger named Charles FitzRoy who in addition to being the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was also the Second Duke of Grafton. His father – Henry, First Duke of Grafton was married to a Countess and was also an illegitimate child of King Charles II and Duchess Barbara Villiers.

It was in the middle of trying to make sense of all this guillotine-worthy convoluted nonsense, I found my pattern of thought interrupted by a hardy street trader who was noisily speaking to a friend whom she hadn’t seen in a while. Filling her friend in with all of the latest goss, she spoke seamlessly as she navigated her words through the complicated array of extended family and friends.

“Well, ye know Patrick, from Domnick Street dont’che? Ah, ye do – Wacker they use’ ta call ‘im, he looked after the boxing up in Sherrifer. Well, he’s only after going and getting some youngone from Cabra up the pole. And ye won’t believe who she’s related to!? Only Biddy Reilly from Mountjoy – you know yer one Biddy – Bridget! Ah, ye do!”

It struck me there and then that these street traders, with their inherent skills for navigating complex family lineages, would be perfect candidates for teaching people all about that English peerage craic. So let’s just remember that if all these greedy developers do manage to knock Moore Street and make them redundant. They’ll have a job over in Windsor, no bother to them.

So anyway, The Duke. It seems if you stand on Grafton Street blindfolded and throw a coin over your shoulder that you’ll likely hit a pub with ties to numerable writers of International regard. I’m even beginning to feel like I’m repeating myself in some of these write-ups going on about various pubs’ ties to writers, but The Duke is yet another public house which lays claim to having sheltered the likes of George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Flann O Brien and is another renowned Dublin Literary Pub. So renowned in fact that it is the starting point for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. Which we really must get around to doing one day!

The interior is cosy, and remarkably so given the expanse of the pub. Wooden floors and carpet make up the flooring. Traditional seating abounds and there are even open fires! The lighting tends to be spot on and the colours are gentle too – all in all, it’s a boozer that ticks all the right boxes for us, aesthetically speaking.

The pint tends to be decent, nothing to be dreamt about but nothing to inspire any nightmares either. Alike most neighbouring watering holes, you’ll want a Duke’s wage to be drinking comfortably in here. We last paid €5.40 for a jar which is just too much if you ask me.

But price concerns aside, you can’t mistake the importance of a boozer like this which has stood since 1822 and houses an interior mostly unchanged since the 1890s. How lucky we are to live in a city containing such historical premises while having none of the nonsense for which they’re named after.

Fair play to the gaffer. Most of you probably didn’t know that Dublin By Pub is sponsored by my employers, I mean – how could you, when they don’t even know themselves? But I would like to take this opportunity to thank my superiors for having not copped that I’ve spent the last day and a half conducting frantic research on the topic of the public house in situ at No. 15 Suffolk Street, Dublin from my desk. In work. On company time. Honestly, I’d name them for the bit of advertising here if I didn’t think that it’d get me sacked.

Now I’d love to sit here and tell you that this abovementioned research bore fruit other than my continuing gladness that I decided to make this page an anonymous entity, but unfortunately my limited research has gotten the better of me here – there are just too many loose ends. But on the topic of the history of the pub pictured, I do know the following:

  • It was once known as Slattery’s and was so at the turn of the 20th century, and indeed it’s mentioned in Ulysses as such.
  • The next record of the pub I found was an advert in a copy of a student paper – The Trinity News. Dated in 1962, the paper carries an advert for 15 Suffolk Street which gives three separate names and states: “MOYLANS late O’Donoghues |The Grafton | Stockists of The Choicest and Best Wines and Liqueurs”.
  • After that, I found a pub crawl feature in the same publication from 1970, some eight or so years later. Here the pub is referred to as Slattery’s as well as The Suffolk House and is described in the article as “many things to many men and the few insane though sober females that lurk here regularly”.
  • Before its current incarnation, the pub was named The Thing Mote, after the same type of Viking structure which sat in the Suffolk street district back when Dublin was just a nipper.

I’ll leave it you yourself to cobble together the history of this boozer, I think in the meantime I need to register with The National Library or put out an appeal for someone to lend me a complete set of Dublin directories for the last hundred or so years. Anyway, on with the pub in its current guise.

A small to medium sized boozer, O’Donoghues is widest at the front with the pub closing in at acute angles toward its rear wall. A raised section is installed at the end of the space and is more often than not used as a stage. Seating is minimal – when unused by performers, the raised section makes use of traditional low tables and stools while the unraised section exclusively contains high seating along the ledges and few high tables.

Now I’ve often decried the layout of this boozer, and Pintman №2 and №3 will argue that I’m just being too picky when I reckon that the Feng Shui of the pub just isn’t right and that the lighting is just a bit too low – and to be fair to them I probably am. The lads reckon that the craic we’ve had in here over the years supersedes any negative impact to be garnered from bad table placement and overused dimmer switches – and they’re probably right there again because we’ve had some serious craic in here.

Our experiences of the pub, having been entirely of the after-dark variety, may be different to others – but to us, this is no pub for a quiet chat. This is our go-to boozer for singing your head off whilst wedged into a crowd of strangers. The crowd is a healthy mix of tourists, dubs and countrymen & women and is usually busy enough. Service is generally well equipped to deal with the crowds and none of us has ever had cause to query or return any pints we’ve had there. Upon our last visit at the end of 2018 we parted with the sum of €5.50 for a pint which is unfortunately in line with the higher prices typical of the locality.

Recently the pub has been in the media over its involvement in litigation regarding financial matters. The content of the article is so full of technical financial shite-talk that a layperson, such as me, couldn’t decipher what in the name of lantern jaysis is going on – but it didn’t sound too good. So, who knows? We could see another name on the front of 15 Suffolk St in the months and years to come. And let’s just pray, that whatever happens, it’s that of a publican.

Dublin, as most of you will probably have already noticed, is a city that was constructed on a bit of an ad-hoc basis. In the past we’ve alluded to the difference between the streets of Dublin and those of a city in the USA and these are many – we don’t do blocks, we don’t do symmetry, we barely do straight lines – and that’s ok, this is the way we like it. You see, we’ve decided to let logic form our assumption here that The East Side Tavern was so named due to the fact that it’s on the east side of St. Stephen’s Green. But the thing is, St. Stephen’s Green is not a space whose boundaries are aligned in accordance with the four major points on a compass, so it’s sort of on the South-eastern side of the green. But South-eastern Side Tavern doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, now does it?

This one we’re coming at with plenty of disappointment, because we’ve just found out in the last few days that The East Side Tavern has closed permanently. About a week or so ago. And we’re raging. Because it wasn’t all that bad of a boozer.  Set in a building that has been guised under a few different monikers over the last decade or so, it was a pub that we thought had finally broken the curse and managed to dig its heels in. Unfortunately not so.

Comprising of a modern sort of aesthetic it boasted a mix of high and low seating which could have stood (or sat) to have been a bit more comfortable. There was a bit of exposed brick around the place which wasn’t too unkind to the eye and dark wood was the order of the day elsewhere. The talking point of the pub, however, was the wall of bottles which adorned the back of the bar – stretching to the height of the ceiling these were lit in such an accentuating manner that to gaze upon them was to feel you were gawking directly at the face of the almighty, well after a few scoops anyway. Speaking of the scoops, we last visited over the summer and found the pint to be as good as the one in Hartigan’s and at an even fiver was a full ten cent cheaper than Harto’s too.

Years ago, when the pub was known under a previous name we happened to find ourselves in for a few pints following a Damien Dempsey gig in The National Concert Hall. We were about a pint and half in when we began to notice members of the large ensemble, who had performed on the night, file into the boozer and make their way upstairs. Feeling a bit brazen from the evening’s pints, as a whole, we thought we’d wander up and have a look ourselves.

Arriving unimpeded up on to the first floor of the building, Pintman № 5 and I made straight toward the only vacant table left in the room. Now, before I go any further, I need to tell you a little bit about Pintman №5. A textbook definition of a man before his time, Pintman №5, who penned our post on Chaser’s of Ballyfermot, has been taxi-ing drunken hordes of Dubliners home from their evening’s debauchery since his mid-twenties. Speaking exclusively in a rare Hiberno-English dialect which blends rhyming slang and dead colloquialisms – he’s the type of man that comes along to the pub to see your mates’ covers band and shouts up requests for ‘Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile’ amidst all the calls for Thin Lizzy and The Beatles. And no, that’s no hypothetical or fictional scenario – Pintman №5’s vocal penchant for this War of Independence rebel anthem became such a mainstay of these aforementioned gigs that random punters even took to requesting the tune in Pintman № 5’s absence.

It didn’t take particularly long on this evening for us to have found the vacant space at our table filled up with the later arrivals to the after-party. Turning to see who had sat down beside us, we immediately realised that we had then been joined by Kerry Trad Legend – Seamus Begley. Accordion in his lap and the lot. Seamus, as it turns out, is a gem of a fella – and sat with us for the guts of an hour swapping stories and jokes. In the midst of all this gaiety at our own table we came to realise that the inevitable seisún had begun in earnest for the rest of the room and more inevitable again we found Seamus leaving our table, having been accosted to play a tune.

Obligingly, he took to the centre of the room and began knocking out a waltz on his accordion. This was received with applause that suggested he might play another. It’s no sooner than he has wondered aloud as to what he should play next that I can hear Pintman № 5’s sharp intake of breath followed by his booming voice bellowing out the familiar request of ‘ÓRÓ SÉ DO BHEATHA ‘BHAILE!’. Unfamiliar though, was the response this time around. Without missing a literal beat, Seamus Begley turns on his heels and begins a rousing rendition of the song, the chorus of which, is fervently sang by the attentive and talented audience. I’ve never seen Pintman №5 so elated. Before and since. And even better again, we’ve never heard a request for Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile since.

It’s always bad when a boozer shuts up shop, and we’re most certainly sad to see this one call last orders. Hopefully there’ll be more to come from No. 104 Leeson St. Lwr in the months or years to come.

It was around 3pm on Christmas Eve that Pintman №2 and I finally called a ceasefire on the shopping. Being weighed down with bags and weary from the experience of toyshops on the 24th of December we agreed that any gifts which were unbought at this stage were fated to remain so until after the big day. It was also, coincidentally enough, at this particular point of the day that we decided it was time to go to the pub – a decision that had more than on occasion given way to discourse and debate amongst ourselves on par to that heard in the houses of The Oireachteas… except with more profanities. But given the day that was in it, and the energy levels being as they were, I was in no fit state to offer any alternatives when Pintman №2 suggested we visit The International Bar on Wicklow St. So with bags in tow – we headed for some well-deserved Cosy Christmas Pints.

The International is a pub that for reasons unbeknownst to us hasn’t really featured an awful lot in our collective drinking careers. The pub itself is housed in a striking terracotta structure and sits on the corner of streets: Wicklow & St. Andrew. In the bit of research we undertook on the building we ironically found it to be described as large and sober in a book detailing Dublin architecture, we also stumbled upon the fact that it was designed by the same architect responsible for Kavanagh’s of Aughrim St – One George L. O’Connor.

 

By some minor Christmas miracle we managed to nab one of the few seats when we arrived into the pub – which is smaller than the size conjured up from its exterior. As we wedged in between two separate sets of tourist we arranged our multitude of bags into any agreeable space and called for a few pints. These pints, which were sank without complaint, were all the sweeter given the fact that the pub, despite being situated within the epicentre for overpriced porter, charged an even fiver for a pint, an act we couldn’t but commend them on. We also tucked into a toasty which gave change back from a fiver – which we all agreed was good going.

The pub itself is a fine sight – Victorian in its décor it boasts a long granite bar which runs the length of the room and sits beneath a high ceiling. The floor is finished in a mosaic tiling and the back of the bar is fully fitted with bespoke wordworkings which include carvings of Irish river gods, according to the pub’s website.

 

We couldn’t really fault this boozer too much, we should also note that it’s a bit of an institution for comedy which is hosted in a bar on another of the premise’s floors. We certainly enjoyed cosying in on a Christmas Eve and will certainly return at a less festive time during the year.

In Dublin, certain pubs are renowned for certain things – you may find that one pub is the go-to place for those seeking a fireplace, another may be the first called upon to watch an important game whereas others are renowned for catching a few tunes. What is unusual, however, is for one pub to hold the title of go-to pub for more than one thing. As it turns out – unusual is a fairly good description of Grogan’s.
If you were to ask a certain subsection of the Dublin drinking population to recommend the go-to television-less pub or the go-to toasty pub this author would wager that Grogan’s would make up the majority of responses that you would receive.

We’re not usually in the habit of commenting on food, but we could hardly mention Grogan’s and not mention the toasty. A toasty, for those unfamiliar is simply a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, these sandwiches have become something of a delicacy amongst pub-goers being the only hot food on offer in many establishments and thusly the only offer of sustenance on a lengthy session.

While there may be better toasties available in the city, the toasty experience in Grogan’s is certainly the best. The simple act of providing the customer with a jar of old English mustard to do with as they please is symbolic. It’s a symbol of trust, there’s no bigger slap in the face, no bigger insult than being furnished with a solitary sachet of cheap condiment. The act simply screams of distrust. In Grogan’s they tell you that they trust you, they know you might be tempted to use too much mustard, or to take the jar home, but it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

Aesthetically, this is an ordinary pub made extraordinary. The ordinary being patterned carpet, chestnut panelling, mundane white tiled ceiling, and the extraordinary being provided by the ever-changing multitude of artworks scattered across the walls and the odd bit of stained glass contrasting the dull light attempted by the wooden panelling.

The pint warranted no complaints. Well poured and high quality – the price differed by 20 cent between two barmen for some reason but nonetheless the D2 tax was certainly in effect.

Overall Grogan’s is a beacon for the future of Dublin Pubs, the reverence afforded to it by a younger crowd demonstrates that the popularity of the traditional Dublin Pub experience still stands strong within the city. .

Sitting splendidly on South Anne St. – the vibrant colours of Kehoe’s facade are a welcome and familiar sight to many Dubliners. The pub, which judging by a cursory google, has sat for its fair share of paintings is one which is well regarded amongst the great Dublin Pubs and as such was awarded the accolade of Best Pub in Dublin earlier this year.

We last visited over the summer on a Friday afternoon hoping to beat the afterwork crowd. The first notable feature of the pub was the front doors which open saloon style in either direction; we arrived in to find the pub thronged and not a spare seat in the house. Feeling all John Wayne after our entrance we considered bullying someone out of their seat but thought the better of it opting to prop up a spare ledge instead. We called for two scoops we came to realise that the pub’s proximity to a bookies may have been the reason for it being so busy, so early.

As a hefty portion of the patrons heckled the horses on the television, we looked around to take in the surroundings. This is a pubs that is as famous for its exterior as it is for its interior, generous sized crowds often hoard outside when weather permits, thankfully this day it was raining so we sat on our preferred side of the threshold – the inside.

The pub is of a Victorian persuasion and therefore contains all the usual furnishings of such boozers; A coveted snug sits to the front of the main bar, wooden partitions segment the bar and a well carved structure of woodworkings make up the back of the bar. The lighting is increased beyond the standard of contemporary Victorian houses by the cream coloured ceiling and walls. The embossed wallpaper further fits out the aged feel to the pub, while neon signage takes you from the 1860s to the 1960s.

Aside from the main bar there are plenty of other nooks, crannies and even the odd parlour situated throughout. The pub fits our idea of what constitutes a great Dublin boozer. The pint was great (aside from the usual inflated D2 price) and we noted that they quality team was in looking after the lines when we were in.

As its recent award would suggest, this is a big hitter amongst the cities boozers. We’d tend to agree.

The Dawson Lounge is a pub in the city which is the envy of many, or at least a few others. This bar is the official holder of a coveted title which some of its competitors have bestowed upon themselves – and just like that cheeky last pint the narky barman begrudgingly sold you a half past last call – there may only be one.

The smallest pub in Dublin: The Lotts and The Confession Box may have vied for this title but you can take it on good authority from this claustrophobic and spatially unaware writer that The Dawson Lounge is the most diminutive of all the boozers in the capital. Passers-by need only observe the simple door with a tiny sign atop –which makes up the pubs frontage – in order to recognise that no pub comes tinier than this.To enter this boozer one must follow in the footsteps of artists such as The Jam and Jamiroquai and Go Underground. Once of a subterranean disposition, punters have a limited choice of seats, if any choice at all. The lighting is as dim as you’d expect a windowless space to be. Dark wooden tones with deep reds make up the overall hue of the pub. Tasteful down-lit paintings occupy select wall space within the pub and overall it’s a pleasant looking room.

We found the WC to be a bit of a talking point too. We particularly liked the engineering of the cubicle door which is cleverly cut down the middle so that it can navigate its clearing without obstruction. The bar too makes good use of limited space, it being tucked neatly and efficiently into a small corner of the room. The pint we’ve always found to be of a high standard and the staff to be a good bunch too.

Overall we’re fairly keen on this shop. It’s good and cosy when you can catch a seat and it’s an experience having a scoop in such a small pub. It’s also the only bar of all those on Dawson St that’s worth drinking in.