Posts

In the early hours of a Friday morning somewhere on Parnell Street in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, you might have found me in the time honoured sweaty skirmish that I’m sure you’ll still find long haired leather clad rockers in to this day.

With pint glass firmly clasped like all should be when mosh-pit adjacent, I’d be quaffing some unholy concoction sold to me as a loss-leader – aniseedy and tinted in shining glowstick green – you’d still be able to smell it in the morning afterward.

Fibber Magee’s

Having arrived early, as to avoid the bouncers, I’d generally be garbed in building site-safe attire, content that at least my steel-toe boots were half on par with the dress code. Eventually then the gang would spill in and the night would while away into that green aniseed haze and you would find yourself in that menagerie of boots, chains, leather, denim and all the sweat and beer spilt therein.

And as the drinking-up hour would close in you might be going hoarse from defiantly shouting the repeated lines of the last song spun – it usually being Rage Against The Machine. “F**k you, I won’t do what you tell me”… you’d howl it as you swayed arm in arm with any number of sweaty metallers.. “F**k you I won’t do what you tell me.” Then the bouncers would move in to clear house – and you’d do what they told you.

There are but a handful of widely accepted institutions in Dublin City and the place mentioned above – Fibber Magee’s is certainly one. Dublin’s premier Metal bar, it was a rite of passage for young trainee rockers like myself who found that their fondness for music could no longer be confined to unlicensed premises way back when.

Though ultimately I’d find the tunes in Fibbers a bit on the heavier side and transfer up to Eamon Doran’s, and given that it’s not somewhere I’ve ever frequented in the true sense of the word, I’ve always retained a fondness for Fibbers and the foundation it provided to me to learn the trade of drinking pints.

Being the likely best example of a Dive bar on offer in Dublin’s portfolio of pubs, Fibbers is cut into a sizeable number of defined sections – a medium sized bar runs along the left side of the room as you enter, toward the right side you’ll find an alcove containing two or three bays of semi-circular couches which snugly house a circular table apiece. Moving toward the back of the room you’ll come upon a bank of pool tables and as you move right from them you’ll end up in the venue section complete with stage and dancefloor. Beyond all that there’s a vast smoking area out back which we wouldn’t normally bother commenting on only for the fact that it is contained on a common courtyard with two vastly different style of bars/restaurants – Murray’s and The Living Room. This lends to a sort of Gangs of New York – Five Points vibe, the likes of which is found nowhere else in the city.

Pint-wise, we can’t really comment in any great certainty as we generally find ourselves here when our tastebuds have been rendered less sensitive than they would’ve been before a hearty sceilp of pints. But I cannot say that our last visit is remembered as being one where the pint was below an acceptable level. I’m told the pint is at the fiver mark here but we’ll stand open to correction there.

We last visited of a Halloween night which ended somewhat acrimoniously. With a sizeable crew of costumed and costumeless in tow we’d awarded the night’s best dressed award to Pintman №7 who had ignored all advice of it being more of a 2009 thing and decided to dress as Heath Ledger’s incarnation of The Joker from The Dark Night… as a nurse… in a dress… I think he might have even shaved his legs for the occasion.

Pintman №7, who despite being a long time subscriber and attendee to the cause, has heretofore gone uncredited in the annals of DublinByPub. A man caught in a never ending cycle of giving up and getting back into drinking strong IPAs, he would, as it turns out, have made a fine character actor.

For, you see, it was on this fine October night that Pintman №7 had truly engaged his inner Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero all in one. And the timing of this couldn’t have been more perfect. We’d been unfortunate enough to find ourselves having made the acquaintance of some nasty, uncostumed upstart in the course of playing pool. And it was just as this little bollox was smack bang in the middle of his twenty-somethingth ill-advised insult of the evening when he felt five of Pintman №7’s knuckles speedily settle into his cheekbone. It was so perfect a hit some of us even swore we saw one of those 60’s Batman pop-art graphics depicting the word POW right before our eyes. Needless to say, the boy went down.

Next of all we’d found ourselves witness to one of these wonderful Halloween scenes where Donald Trump and Wonderwoman beckoned bouncers as Obie Wan Kenobi attempted to barrel The Joker out of sight. The bouncers did arrive and when Pintman №7 freely gave himself up they informed him that he’d have to be thrown out. He went peacefully. He went so peacefully that the bouncers even cheerfully bade him good night and the best of luck for good measure too.

Unfortunately our hopes and prayers that footage of this melee would eventually surface on the national airwavews as part of Crimecall’s CCTV segment have year to bear fruit. We continue to live in hope.

So that’s about all we have on Fibbers for now. Let us conclude by saying that if you’re the type of person who’s looking to accompany a pint with the aural pleasures of the more advanced sub-genres of metal, or if you’re just a lad in a dress who wants to shoot some pool and watch the world burn, Fibbers might just be the place for you!

The Long Stone we hardly knew ye.

You stood proudly on Townsend Street for over 200 years and now they’ve decided to knock you down. We never even took our chance to photograph you while you were open and now it’s too late. Soon you’ll follow your neighbour – Ned into the dusty abyss and take your rightful place in Valhalla, and all we can do to console ourselves is to think of cliches – you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

The Long Stone: Townsend St.

We went to visit you on your last day and came to realise what fools we have been not to have spent more time drinking within your confines. We were like flies scutting along the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – ignorant of the beauty upon which we were standing.

It’s true that I’ve said things in the past that you mightn’t have liked. I was no fan of the hot nut machine that sat atop your front bar and bathed all around it in an uncomfortable fiery hue. I certainly bemoaned the price of your drink on more than one occasion, but none of that matters now.

How we wish you were still open. How we wish we could saunter into the back bar and sit at the mouth of a 10ft sculpture of Odin’s head and gaze upon your bespoke wooden features, your slate flooring, your ancient hanging banners.

But we can’t visit you anymore. The newspapers say that a wrecking ball is due on-site in January, They’ll probably build a hotel on the ground upon which you currently stand. Tourists might come to stay and they’ll ask if there are any good pubs around. No, we’ll respond… Just hotels.

Rest in peace, The Long Stone. We’ll miss you.

Growing up in Ireland, you come to realise that certain phenomena can occur from time to time that there’s just no excuse for. Hindsight is certainly 20:20, and 20:20 puts a harsh and unforgiving light on things once they’re done. Garda Patrol, Dustin the Turkey at the Eurovision Song Contest, The ‘Ah Here Leave It Out’ woman getting paid fistfuls of cash to appear to drunken nightclubbers – to mention a few. All equally inexcusable and blatantly ridiculous moments in Irish social history. This is okay though. All of these were quite evidently outside of the norm and it’s even easy for us now, as it was back then, to hold our hands up as a nation and say- ‘mea culpa lads, things got a bit out of hand there.’

Fitzgerald’s: Aston Quay

Some other things though are so ingrained into our national identity that coming to view them with any sense of their ostensible ridiculousness is a harder affair. This is something I came to realise a number of weeks ago having donated blood and mistiming a bus. Realising that another bus wouldn’t be leaving the terminus for at least another hour, I knew there was only one thing for it. And that one thing was to be delivered in a pint-sized vessel complete with black body and a white head.

Sitting in the confines of the canteen in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service’s clinic in the architecturally striking Lafayette House (a building based on that which houses Bruxelles pub) I opted to text Pintman Nº2 – who, as luck would have it, was practically across the road in Fitzgerald’s. With haste, I gathered up as many complimentary pens as I could and set about correcting the pint’s-worth of liquid deficit I’d just undergone.

Arriving into the ornate surroundings of the pub I met with Pintman Nº2 and two other friends, one of whom happened to be a Brazilian native. Explaining where I’d just come from to Pintman Nº2, our other Irish companion interjected  with an enquiry as to whether the act of donating blood still begets a free pint of Guinness. Retrieving my drink from the barman, I explained that the practice had ended some years ago, and with a hearty gulp of my newly poured pint, I exclaimed, to laughter that fell one short of unanimity, that you now have to provide your own pint.

Thereafter, our somewhat perplexed Brazilian companion then listened intently as three Irish nationals described the grand old tradition of swapping pints of porter for pints of blood. I’m still not sure if she actually believed us, and who really could blame her – I mean the act of giving stout to blood donors is, admittedly, ostensibly, a bit ridiculous. When you try and disassociate from the national psyche for a bit, that is.

Named presumably after the Fitzgerald part of its owners – The Fitzgerald Family, Fitzgerald’s is decorated with that familiar Victorian pub architecture sort of persuasion in mind. Its features include tiled and wooden flooring, a long granite bar, dark wood and high ceilings. These all combine to create a cosy aesthetic along the front half of the pub’s narrow space, a space that is nicely illuminated with the aid of large mirrors which distribute the light effectively. It would be far too picky of us to fault the appearance of this half of the pub – it’s a fine-looking shop.

The back half of the pub, however, we were less keen on. Opening up wide for a more restaurant sort of vibe, it contains lower seating along with the much-dreaded carvery bar. But given that that particular feature is tucked away into a corner and not too imposing, I’ll forego the same style of rant that we decided to level upon poor Madigan’s and leave it by saying that we couldn’t, in all good faith, deduct too many points for the back section, not when it does such a fine job of keeping all the tourists from cluttering up the bar, trying to decide what pints to buy. Speaking of pints, the Guinness we found to be tasty and well-poured, as it should be at €5.50 a pop!

All in all Fitzgerald’s is a fine aul bar that we’ll likely visit more than just the once again. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to petition Guinness to bring back the donor’s pint, and then to try and figure out how to tell our Brazilian friend about the pints given to women just out of labour.

Occurring in the form of premises decorated with ephemera alluding to places and people of no significance to local culture – the overseas ‘Irish Bar’ is an ever-intriguing anomaly.

Of course, we’re more than aware that most are likely a mere means to generate profit, but it’s sometimes still a difficult task to silence that voice in your head (that same one verbalises, after a pint or two, to ask the Garçon in McNulty’s in La-Rochelle whether he’s ever been to Ballyfermot) from bigging-up the fact that the most popular variant of drinking establishment, worldwide, is that which replicates your own native one.

Kimchi Hophouse: Parnell St.

It would, though, make you wonder how others feel about similar circumstances. What would, say a native Korean, think about Dublin’s flagship Korean watering hole: Kimchi-Hophouse? Answers on a postcard, please.

Sitting in the somewhat Asian district of Parnell Street: Kimchi-Hophouse trades in a premises that’s been involved in the purveying of intoxicants since 1848 and which, much to our delight, retains the signage bearing its former name: The Shakespeare. The reason for this we’re not sure of. Whether it was a decision based on finances or a deliberate nod to the past is uncertain, but we’re sure Will-o himself would approve. Past being prologue, and all that.

As it turns out, a Korean bar in Dublin isn’t that unusual in the grand scheme of things. The similarities between Korea and Ireland are many, with some even referring to Korea as the Ireland of Asia. It’s also well reported that Korea is a country not too dissimilar to ourselves when it comes to the partaking of a few social beverages. A fact that is easily evident when you consider that their national spirit – Soju, was the world’s best-selling type of liquor in 2017.

This is all good and well, but the 72-Billion KRW ($64M at the time of writing) question is whether this all translates to persons of Korean lineage running a good boozer? And using Kimchi-Hophouse as an example, the answer is yes. A narrow sort of pub, its appearance is characterised by a light blue and white colour scheme with homely wooden flooring underfoot. TVs are ubiquitous and my companion, a far more discerning football fan than I, agreed that the pub is a perfect setting in which to take in a match. The drink on offer comprises of both craft and mainstream, and the prices – all of which are helpfully displayed upon labels hung from the taps, are good. The Guinness was of a very high standard, costing a mere and moreish €4.50 a pint.

The overall vibe of the place is a buzzy one and the adjoining restaurant means there is plenty of movement from the kitchen which is situated somewhere toward the back of the pub. On any visit we’ve found the crowd to generally be a young one, with trendy inclinations. Many of them seem opt to occupy the smoking area out the back of the pub. The staff are sound too and our only complaint about the experience of the pub was an ordering process which seems to come into effect in the evening whereby one can only be served if they are standing within the confines of a relatively small section of the bar. This we found to be an unnecessary practice especially so when it was enforced with a strictness that meant a you’d miss out on the chance of service if you were merely a foot out of place.

But overall, we’re very fond of this boozer -having all the adventurousness of a departure from the norm with all of the comforts of the familiar – Kimchi-Hophouse is a pub we’ll definitely revisit, even if only to try some of this Soju stuff.

I wonder if any of you agree with me when it comes to my distinct repulsion toward a good hearty roast dinner? First of all, let me assure you that this is no case of picky eating or food snobbery – there’s not a single bad thought I could possibly muster when I’m halfway through a plate and am mixing gravy and mash together like your aulfella would cement and water with a spade. But there’s a certain vibe that this meal, which is traditionally served on a Sunday, evokes for me that just fills me with dread. The vibe in question is that gloomy sort of despair, a bit like a dose of watered down grieving, or even like The Fear – minus the physiological effects of the drink.

Madigan’s: North Earl St.

This is no solitary phenomenon though, this feeling can be evoked by many different stimuli – many will experience it upon the occasion of hearing the Glenroe theme tune, some even attribute it to seeing horses jumping around in the RDS in late August. At any moment you are just one small experience away from your mind being tricked into thinking that good times are coming to a close and that normality’s resumption is closer than before.

The above is an excerpt from my manifesto calling for Carvery Bars to be removed from all public houses. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Carvery Bars in plain sight within the confines of a pub are the Devil’s work. Consider it to be a DublinByPub core believe that no one person should be at risk of getting that sinking Sunday feeling while they’re out on the pints, except maybe on a Sunday.

Madigan’s of North Earl St, as you might have guessed, has a carvery bar and I think the previous number of paragraphs say all that needs to be said on that. The pub sits in the centre point between its two identically named sister pubs on Abbey & O Connell St. Aesthetically the pub follows a similar design specification to these sister pubs whereby well-kept wooding fittings and stained glass is the order of the day. It’s a fairly narrow pub and split into two atria by a rather ornate wooden divider that houses a recessed clock in its centre. A long marble bar which compliments the mosaic flooring well runs along the right side of the further of the two atria before stopping to accommodate that feature which will not be mentioned once more.

The pint was of an acceptable standard and at €5.20 came in at far better value than that on sale in the O Connell St branch. The staff couldn’t be faulted too much and even accommodated Pintman Nº2’s insatiable appetite for international football by putting the World Cup on the nearest TV to us.

We couldn’t quantify Madigan’s of North Earl St as anything other than a great looking boozer. But the truth is that it’s quite unlikely that we’d take to frequenting it when we’ve such a Grá for so many boozers nearby. But who knows, leave the food in the kitchen and we might talk.

It was over a few pints and within the midst of a discussion on the topic of academia that I found myself outvoted by a majority of my peers recently. Having counted yours truly alongside Wilde, Wolfe Tone and other such alumni

Of all the questions that people level at us here in DublinByPub, the one that we seem to find ourselves on the end of the most is that which seeks to identify what our favourite thing about the Pubs of Dublin is. Now if we’re entirely honest with ourselves here, I think we’d have to admit that the only consistent thing about the answers we’ve given to this particular query over the years would be the level of inconsistency that could be attributed to them. For, you see, there are a great multitude of things that we hold dear when it comes to the watering holes of this city – and if you are to query us on such a broad topic we will take full liberty to fly off on any given tangent influenced solely by what happens to come to mind at that particular moment.

Madigan’s: O’Connell St.

Today, for example, our feature of choice would be history – we’ve said in the past that an interesting history is a marked advantage (yet not a pre-requisite) when determining what makes a good pub – this is definitely a statement which we would still stand over. One of the handier things, though, about a pub with a rich history (from the perspective of someone who happens to be in the business of writing about pubs) is that they offer a good hook from which a piece of writing could flow from – this was certainly something I had hoped would apply to Madigan’s of O’Connell St when I sat down to try and write this piece, all of about two hours ago.

You’d think that a boozer sitting squarely upon the country’s most historically significant thoroughfare would be one that would be steeped in all sorts of ancient wonder, wouldn’t you? But a good hour or so of uninspired googling would suggest that there’s not too much to tell here. My poorly effected research would propose to me that the pub is housed in what was previously part of Savoy Cinema (I’ll have to drop into me Grandfather and confirm that) and was established in 1984. Personally, I was hoping that I’d find that the building was established in 1790 – not because of any reasons pertaining to history, but just because it would have lead nicely into my next paragraph.

€17.90 is the unfortunate sum that yours truly paid for the only round that three of us had in Madigan’s of O’Connell St. Guinness came in at an eye-watering €5.70; a drinkable pint, albeit with a bit too big of a head on top – we wondered if this was an intentional measure taken to safeguard customers against choking when they glanced back down at their receipts. Needless to say, there are far superior pours at infinitely more agreeable prices throughout the city.

Unlike the price of the drink, the appearance of this pub isn’t something that we could fault too much. Ubiquitous and pristinely up-kept mahogany characterises the overall look of the pub – dividers and hatches aplenty offered momentary distraction from the pain emanating from the pocket wherein my wallet was kept. Pintman Nº2, while agreeable to my positive assessment of the interior, was quick to knock off a few more points by wondering why a pub charging five seventy for a jar is still showing World Cup matches on a fuzzy, mid-2000s era, CRT style TV. “Surely they can afford a flat screen by now”, he protests.

The customer base is unsurprisingly mostly made up of tourists, the staff are warm and friendly in their service. The bouncer was prone to nipping in and out to keep track of the score of the ongoing match during our stay – a humourous sort of man, he interacted well with the customers inside. He even suggested a few boozers to us upon overhearing our arguing over where to go next – advice we opted to take in lieu of another round.

This was the last of the many Madigan’s that we had yet to set foot in, ultimately it disappointed. Undoubtedly it’s a well-placed and good looking boozer, but the price of the pint was one that was just too exorbitant for us to justify returning. This now means that Madigan’s of O’Connell St is officially deemed to be DublinByPub’s least favourite of all the Madigan’s. And we include Killbarrack Shopping Centre in that!

We get some odd correspondence from time to time here at Dublin By Pub – as the community of people that follow us has grown on Instagram so too has the volume of stuff that comes into our inbox. Most of what we receive is quite positive – we’re always delighted to talk shop with people who do inbox us and we’ve had plenty that have taken the time to share some fantastic stories and memories with us over the last while. Invariably too we get some spam and some odd requests also. One thing we regularly get (and happily welcome) is people who get on looking for recommendations on what pubs to visit when they land in Dublin. Sometimes though, someone asks a question that you never thought you’d ever be asked in life – One such question recently came in the form of this: Where do I bring me granny for a pint?

Madigan’s : Abbey St.


Now far be it from us to suggest that our country does not contain grandmothers who would love nothing more than a few games of pool as they hammer a rake load of Jägerbombs into themselves over a bit of Metallica in Fibbers, but when a question alike the one above is asked of me, I can’t but help to refer to clichéd stereotype. So with images of woollen clad, mass hungry coronation street aficionados in mind I could think of but one pub to recommend that this person bring their dear old Nana – Madigan’s of Abbey St.

We don’t want to, in any way, delegitimise Madigan’s by any means here, this is a true, out and out Dublin pub. But given that it’s a stone’s throw from the since-closed Clery’s and lies in close proximity to many public transport links as well as being practically next door to Dublin’s premier purveyor of texts and tat relating to the catholic church – we’d argue that it’s a perfect spot for granny.

The pub is one of three Madigan boozers which all sit within walking distance from each other on Dublin’s north side. We’ve only ever seemed to find ourselves in this pub before the fall of darkness for some reason, and in our heads, it’s certainly remained as an afternoon sort of pub. The most notable aspect of the pub that deserves comment upon is its appearance, there isn’t even the slightest of cases to be made on the issue of this not being an attractive looking space. The pub’s aesthetic is well-curated and is a brighter and more polished one than that of those which trade nearby. Bright floor tiles and cream-hued walls illuminate the pub amply, dark wooden dividers contrast the brighter colours and are utilised to section off different seating areas – one of which contains a fireplace. The bar sits to the left of the room toward the back but you’d nearly miss it given the atrium that sits at the very rear of the room. Panelled entirely in backlit stained glass depicting colourful shrubbery – this atrium, which houses low and cosy seating, is a feature that it is, without doubt, the main talking point of the pub’s design.

We haven’t been in here in well over a year but the pint is remembered as being an acceptable one, because let’s face it – you never forget a bad one. We’re certainly overdue a visit by now and must report back on how the place sits in 2018.

Now! Who wants to lend us their granny?

There was a moment there in 2017 where we were getting a bit worried about the state of the Dublin pub scene. Borne from the increasing number of pubs closing their doors our concerns were compounded when we realised that many of these were boozers that had been operating as far back as we could remember.

Piper’s Corner: Marlborough St.

Now granted we’re still sore from the loss of The Sackville Lounge, our 2017 grief subsided somewhat when some new pubs sprung up here and there. The first of these caught our attention when we noticed works ongoing at the site of Sean O Casey’s on Marlborough St., the most notable feature of which was the new façade which had been decorated with what this author safely assumes to be the largest image of Seamus Ennis ever printed.

Seamus Ennis for those not in the know was an Irish musician who was most famed for his prowess when it came to playing the indigenous Irish musical instrument – The Uilleann Pipes. The Uillean pipes are an interesting instrument, less discerning ears will tend not to describe them as a pleasant aural experience, but if you’re anything like ourselves you’ll find that the drone of the air passing through the chambers of these pipes will unearth your inner seanchaí and inflame your desire to wander barefoot across the breadth of the country, imbibing solely on whiskey and communicating only in song.

The pub opened last July promising live trad seven nights a week – a statement that had us terrified with the thoughts of pricey scoops and Galway Girl on repeat. Thankfully these were to remain mere nightmares and the pub has already become a hub of activity for all those seeking authentic traditional music.

The interior of the pub is no ornate affair, dark blues are contrasted with plain whites which give the pub a brighter look than most others. The materials are rough and ready – my companion, a carpenter by trade, couldn’t forgive the fact that the back bar was made from a material he reliably informed me to be OSB board. But I liked the overall look of the pub and argue the point that it’ll wear into itself naturally, as all traditional pubs should.

The drink is a mixture of craft and usual fare and should placate the adventurous and the purists alike. Our usual pint of Guinness came in at an even fiver, and was consistently well poured.

The Piper’s Corner is certainly our favourite new Dublin Pub. It’s authenticity is a breath of fresh air in a Dublin smothered with establishments offering homogenised and expensive ‘experiences’ in the guise of anything from New York glamour to Budapest chic – Long may it run!

Sitting in the shadows of the Pro-Cathedral and just off the main thoroughfare of O’Connell St. lies a boozer by the name of Brannigan’s. The pub which is named after an infamous Dublin Gard who would offer his detainees the option of duking it out in lieu of traditional state-sanctioned justice, is one which evaded us for many years. I should in this instance start by commending Brannigan’s on their website, which gives a great history of the pub and its surrounding locality, and is well worth a read. Over the years we’d been in a mere handful of times and we recently ventured in to remind ourselves of what the pub was like.

Brannigan’s: Cathedral St.

A more effulgent shop compared to most of its contemporaries, the pub is no standard fare when it comes to drinking establishments across the city. Large gothic arches overhang the open space which provides a good mixture of high and low seating. The seating itself is upholstered in vibrant stripes which complement the light coloured walls nicely. Flourishes of darker tones of wood add reminders of more prevailing décor throughout and overall we couldn’t argue with the pub’s aesthetic. The most notable feature of the pub, to us anyway, was the cumulation of portraits across the walls. Well executed and striking painted and drawn images of famous faces provide fodder on subjects aplenty, from history to literature to sport and to music, all bases are covered.

We last wandered in of a Saturday afternoon when the bar was busy, a steady stream of young sportswear buyers presumably replaced the steady stream of old dears from the nearby branch of Boyers which had been repurposed as a sports megastore. We ordered out usual jars of stout from the bar which was well decorated with surrendered foreign denominations. We were returned a few well poured pints which were sank with zero complaints. We stayed for a few pints and conversed on subjects stemming from the aforementioned portraits along with discussing the stairs down to the gents which seemed to have been left out of the latest refurbishment.

We’d certainly return to Brannigan’s at a moment’s notice. It’s a nice boozer with an easy going pace about itself. Well recommended.