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A great number of writers are synonymous with a great number of things for different reasons. And a great number of writers are synonymous with the city of Dublin. But when it comes to levels of synonymy with this city of ours, there’s little arguing that Joyce is its foremost considered literary son.

Joyce knew Dublin – in fact, Joyce knew Dublin so well that he was able to write Ulysses in exile from the city. And to know Dublin is to know its pubs and unsurprisingly enough, Joyce knew all about them too.

Most will have heard Joyce’s most famous quote about pubs – it being the moment that Leopold Bloom envisages a puzzle whereby one would try to cross Dublin without passing a pub, but his involvement with pubs doesn’t stop there. Joyce was said to have had argued with publishers over the inclusion of pubs in ‘Dubliners’ even at one point offering to get the go ahead from the publicans themselves adding that they would be ‘glad of the advertisement’.

So without further ado, let’s get down to the pubs. We originally compiled this crawl in conjunction with fundraising efforts that were being undertaken by Sweny’s Pharmacy – a 172 year old premises which features in Ulysses – to this day it remains mostly unchanged from the days when Joyce would have visited and conjured up the initial image of Leopold Bloom stopping in for his wife’s face lotion and his lemon soap.

With this crawl we had two main criteria in mind. Firstly and compulsory is that the pubs on the crawl are mentioned in the writings of James Joyce. Secondly is the idea that these pubs retain some of the character that they once had in the early 1900s – this is more so a desirable quality rather than a necessary one.

Dublin By Pub – James Joyce Pub Crawl – Google My Maps

A pub crawl of some of the pubs mentioned in the works of James Joyce

1. Davy Byrne’s

This pub is probably regarded as the ultimate Joycean watering hole in Dublin, and no James Joyce pub would be complete without it. Featured in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom stops in and orders a glass of burgundy and a Gorgonzola sandwich.

“He entered Davy Byrne’s. Moral pub. He doesn’t chat. Stands a drink now and then. But in leap year once in four. Cashed a cheque for me once.”


Truth being told, we put this one first to get it out of the way. It’s not one of our favourite boozers, it’s pricy and a bit too plush for any proper comfort. It contains little or none of the visual characteristics it would have had in 1904.

But it’s carved out its niche as a cornerstone of Joycean Dublin by retaining the original name and purveying cheese sambos and glasses of burgundy to Bloom wannabes all year round.


2. The International


Known as Ruggy O’Donohoe’s at the time of Ulysses, we’ve chosen to include The International as it’s one of Dublin’s original Victorian pubs and retains a similar aesthetic. The pub is mentioned in Episode 10, Wandering Rocks, as below:

“Opposite Ruggy O’Donohoe’s Master Patrick Aloysius Dignam, pawing the pound and a half of Mangan’s, late Fehrenbach’s, porksteaks he had been sent for, went along warm Wicklow street dawdling. It was too blooming dull sitting in the parlour with Mrs Stoer and Mrs Quigley and Mrs MacDowell and the blind down and they all at their sniffles and sipping sups of the superior tawny sherry uncle Barney brought from Tunney’s. And they eating crumbs of the cottage fruitcake, jawing the whole blooming time and sighing”


3. The Oval

The Oval is another pub which retains the same name since its mention in Ulysses. It crops up in Episode 7:

“–What’s that? Myles Crawford said with a start. Where are the other two gone?
–Who? the professor said, turning. They’re gone round to the Oval for a drink. Paddy Hooper is there with Jack Hall. Came over last night.
–Come on then, Myles Crawford said. Where’s my hat?”

While the fittings and furnishings in The Oval may not be the same as they were in the early 1900s, given that the pub was destroyed during the 1916 Rising, the pub does still have an old time charm which should satisfy most trying to conjure up Joyce’s Dublin.


4. J. & M. Cleary

More known for its ties to Michael Collins than Ulysses, it’s mentioned in Episode 16 of the book. Back then it traded as The Signal House.

“So, bevelling around by Mullet’s and the Signal House which they shortly reached, they proceeded perforce in the direction of Amiens street railway terminus”

J. M. Cleary’s two nearest neighbouring pubs were both mentioned in Ulysses too. Mullets still trades under its 1906 name and Llyod’s was known as Dan Bergin’s when it was mentioned in Ulysses. You can add in these two pubs to the crawl here if you wish.


5. Mulligan’s

“When the Scotch House closed they went round to Mulligan’s. They went into the parlour at the back and O’Halloran ordered small hot specials all round. They were all beginning to feel mellow. Farrington was just standing another round when Weathers came back. Much to Farrington’s relief he drank a glass of bitter this time. Funds were getting low but they had enough to keep them going.”

I always wonder why Davy Byrnes’ is perceived to be more associated with Joyce rather than Mulligan’s. Mulligan’s features in ‘Counterparts’, one of the stories in ‘Dubliners’, as prominently as Davy’s does in Ulysses, and as well as this, the pub’s appearance is far closer to that which Joyce would have seen when he was writing Dubliners.

Be sure to go into the bar on the left side of the building (pictured) and try to get a seat in the parlour down the back, where Counterparts is set, it’s just beyond the Grandfather Clock.


6. Kennedy’s

Formerly known as Conway’s, this pub is mentioned in Episode 5 in Ulysses when Bloom meets M’Coy:

I was with Bob Doran, he’s on one of his periodical bends, and what do you call him Bantam Lyons. Just down there in Conway’s we were.

And so brings a conclusion to our James Joyce Pub Crawl. Wefinished at Kennedy’s intentionally due to its proximity to Sweny’s – so when you’ve finally reached the final boozer, do nip across to see Dublin’s greatest living Joycean relic, and grab a bar of lemon soap yourself too, you might need it after all that walking.

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.

Regardless of whether some politicians want to hear it or not, there can be little escaping the fact that drink is interwoven into our national fabric. Come temperance, cafe culture and minimum unit pricing – one and all – there are literally centuries worth of work that will be required to separate us from our association with lady liquor.

Lofty ceilings, exposed brick, Joycean knee-tremblers. These are the things that come to mind when we sit to reflect on the Lincoln’s Inn…

Plonked curvedly along the headlong turn that stops traffic from continuing on to Nassau Street, The Lincoln is pub which needs no shiny PR Company to cobble together some contrived back story about itself in order to give it some historical justification as a classic Dublin boozer. Given its location, it already has that in spades. Now, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing me banging on about how this pub and that pub had this or that connection with big Jim Joyce, but this is another one. And an important one at that! It was on a fine 10th of June in 1904 that Jimmy peeled back his eyepatch and set both eyes upon a chambermaid by the name of Nora Barnacle in Finn’s Hotel and the rest, as they say, was history. 6 days later on the 16th of June, himself and Nora took a wander up to Ringsend and eh, well, refer to point three of the opening sentence.

Alas, Finn’s Hotel is no more, a ghost sign remains on the gable end of the building and the name of the hotel was immortalised when used as the title of a collection of narratives written by Joyce but nowadays it’s known as The Lincoln’s Inn.

Truth be told, this isn’t a boozer we’re overly familiar with. We have been in a few times over the years but we won’t be getting classed as locals anytime soon. The pub is split down the middle into two sections. The left side of the house is the less formal side – higher tables and seats abound and it feels to us to be the better side of the place for drinking. The right-hand side of the house feels a bit more restaurant with its low seating. Throughout, the place is carefully decorated – the high ceilings along with the ornate pillars and gold light fittings make for an experience dissimilar to that of your common-or-garden Dublin pub, it’d nearly remind you of an older pub you might find in Berlin or Brussels or the like.

The bar sits at the back of the room entirely and is a good placement in the author’s opinion. The Guinness is good, in fact, I’ve had some excellent pints in here. It’s gone a good year or so since any of the last of us visited, and it having being a bit of a wobbly visit we can’t say with any degree of certainty how the prices looked back then. Having texted around – I’ve heard prices ranging between a fiver and five fifty, but leave that with us to get a more definitive answer there.

That’s about all we have to say on this boozer for the time being. You could do far worse than to end up supping on a few pints there. If you ever happen to get notions about yourself, there’s a fine day of culture to be had in the vicinity with The Dead Zoo around the corner and The National Gallery across the way. And what better way to bookend any of that than a few scoops in The Lincoln, and who knows? You could be off to Ringsend in six days yourself too.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ambassador O’Hanrahan, Mr Prime Minister, Esteemed members of the Nobel Committee, I thank you all for coming to my lecture today and I would like to begin by asking you a question – Have you ever encountered the condition Paris Syndrome? For those of you who haven’t, please allow me to explain.

Predominately affecting Japanese tourists, Paris Syndrome is a condition resultant of a person’s realisation that the capital city of France is not the idealised ‘city of love’ that they had conjured up in their minds from all the portrayals of it they had seen through the years. This particular category of culture-shock can apparently reach a level of such severity that it elicits physiological symptoms in those who suffer from it. These have been known to include dizziness, sweating, vomiting and hallucinations.

The reason I mention the above-described syndrome is due to the fact that it draws many parallels with that syndrome which we are most concerned with in this lecture today – The Dublin Syndrome. While not confined to the defined region of the Irish Capital, the affliction is named after the native origin of Patient Zero who presented in a Dublin clinic upon his return home from a short break in a European capital city.

Described as an acute disassociation from one’s own affinity with their original place of origin upon repatriation from a short and enjoyable spell spent abroad, Dublin Syndrome can be brought about by many underlying factors. One prevailing aspect of each patient who presented was their inclination to over-romanticise their place of origin. This romanticisation was noted as being compounded by many factors including the consumption of positively-biased social media pertaining to their place of origin and indulgence in local customs, patient zero being noted as a regular participant in the Irish phenomenon known as ‘the craic’.

Dublin Syndrome has been identified as occurring sometime between when a person returns from a short holiday and close to when the sufferer begins to throw their own internal romanticisation of their hometown into doubt. In each case, this doubt was the result of the patient having juxtaposed aspects of their hometown against those which are more favourable in the place they have recently visited. These include, but are not limited to, weather conditions, alcohol pricing, bar and club opening hours, cuisine, etc, etc.

Ultimately this leaves the patient questioning their previously perceived status quo, commonly the patient will, unfruitfully, seek to re-evaluate their connection to their hometown. Physiological effects similar to Paris Syndrome such as dizziness, sweating, vomiting and hallucinations have been recorded but leading researchers have not been able to isolate these from symptoms commonly found in patients suffering from The Fear, a separate condition in itself – which many sufferers of Dublin Syndrome also simultaneously presented with.

Following innumerable vaccine trials and inestimable hours of research, leading researchers have discovered an effective treatment for sufferers of Dublin Syndrome. The treatment, which also is said to be effective in fighting The Fear, was discovered in a manner befitting the discovery of penicillin, given the serendipity involved.

It was one particular evening when upon my way home in Dublin, that I happened upon Patient Zero as he passed from Pearse Street to Westland Row. Noticing that he was beleaguered with symptoms at the time I took the opportunity to candidly observe the patient in the wild in lieu of approaching him. As he reached the top of the street, the patient stopped at Kennedy’s public house and after a moment of contemplation, he entered. Being in the dark wooden environs of the pub and having stepped upon the tiled flooring the patient appeared to experience an improvement in their symptoms as they ordered a drink.

Awaiting this drink, the patient was noted to have observed portraits of writers which hung about the walls of the pub. In later interviews, he would come to explain the calming effect brought about in realising that ‘Beckett, Behan and Joyce would’ve drank here themselves’. The patient even goes as far as to say that it is at this early stage when he first begins to experience the return of, what he described as, “pangs” of older romanticised “notions”.

The patient is then noted to have observed nearby Joycean relic – Sweny’s pharmacy through one of the many large windows in the pub as he set about ingesting the first portion of the alcoholic beverage he had previously purchased. The analgesic effect of this is observed as having occurred faster than expected with the patient appearing more comfortable than at any time since having presented. This comfort is perceived to subside somewhat as the patient reads the figure, which is later clarified as €5.50, on a receipt which had been issued to him with the beverage. This is then countenanced when the subject medicates himself further with the beverage he had bought.

I continue to observe the patient as he self-medicates, increasing his dosage as he goes. As he begins to risk overmedication, I note that he has begun to interact with control subjects. It is at this point that the subject begins to drink whiskey and puts themselves at risk of overmedication. As he begins to sing a folk song about a triangle I decide to interject and return the patient back to the test facility for evaluation. His reaction to this is made in a positive tone as he enquires whether we are going to “a session”.

In the weeks following the trial, the patient is observed on a semi-regular basis and is deemed to have made a near-full recovery. He continues to bemoan the grievances such as the price of the pint, closing hours, and local climate on a smaller scale. But researchers cannot rule out the possibility that such behaviour did not predate the patient’s contraction of The Dublin Syndrome.

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.

With its gothic doors, hanging baskets and polished panel windows all facing the uninspiring scene painted by the carpark across the road – Clarkes City Arms is a pub which sits charmingly enough on Prussia St.

Standing in the vicinity of this boozer I can’t say that my own mind came to conjure up visions of landmark Dublin history but as it happens, the address of the pub is one which is quite the hallowed plot in terms of iconic historical Dubliners.

55 Prussia St is the former address of the City Arms Hotel – a hotel which was frequented by one James Joyce who did the premises the service of mentioning it a number of times in his novel – Ulysses. Along with being catalogued in what is arguably the most famous Irish novel of all time, this address is also historically enriched with regard to Dublin’s drinking culture. The building which was to become the aforementioned hotel began life as an estate owned by the family Jameson, of international whiskey renown.

We were in Clarke’s of a Saturday afternoon and suffice it to say that we’re not threatening to dethrone James Joyce any time soon. Much as we might have tried we were scarce to find too much inspiration upon our visit. The jaded aesthetic consisting of carpet and wood panelling combo was about as stale as the atmosphere at the time. Perhaps we arrived in the downtime but it was fierce quiet for us.

With a mind to not being entirely negative we hasten to add that Clarke’s has great potential. A bit of a shine and a polish to bring out the charm of the bar certainly wouldn’t go amiss. It would certainly be a great service to great pint that pours here, to the capable staff that pours it and to Joyce and the Jamesons and all.

Much had been said to me over the years about Cleary’s, it being an old haunt of Michael Collins. More recently to this visit someone told me of their sojourn here and how it contained a level of violence that the big fella himself would be familiar with.

With this disincentive foremost in my head, I reminded Pintman Nº2 upon our approach that we should harden up. Agreeing, he inspected our attire and whether it was appropriate for a hard inner city boozer. Immediately we agreed that he, being garbed in dirty building-site clobber, fitted the bill perfectly. Me on the other hand – not so much. It would happen to be on this day that I’d decided to premier a Simpsons t-shirt I’d been gifted which was as red as the pub’s signage. We entered with my jacket well zipped and our shoulders thrown back.

Arriving into the bright narrow bar we encountered none of the hostility we’d expected. The length of the pub is segmented with wooden partitions and the long bar is complimented with seating running opposite. Sitting at the bar we ordered two great pints.

After the first sup all of our discussion on the way in was forgotten and my jacket was off, revealing the ridiculous t-shirt. The barman, returning to our end of the bar soon clocked the shirt and issued a much unexpected compliment. He then glanced down to notice Pintman #2’s battered Star Wars keyring on the bar and the two struck up a conversation on the franchise’s recent release. Uninterested, I took a wander around to admire the portraits of Michael Collins which hung proudly on the walls.

Returning, I found the two still immersed in chat which was to be broken when the barman’s phone rang. His ringtone? – A Star Wars Theme, of course. In the interim of the call we’d finished our jar and the barman returned to service. We bade him a farewell as we exited and his retort to us is one I won’t forget.

– Seeya lads. Oh and may the force be with you.

I kept the head down and expedited my exit.

Don’t base opinions on word of mouth! Far from being the hardened inner city ale-house – Cleary’s is a welcoming pub where discussion on intergalactic wars is as welcome as speak on wars of independence.