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You just can’t beat a good quote, can ya?

No, I haven’t gone corporate and sold out to an insurance company (we sell out for booze and cash only, fyi). When I say quote here, I’m not referring to that annual screwjob that motorists find themselves coughing up for, I’m speaking, instead, about the particular branch of language and literature that we all come back to for assurance and guidance at some point in our lives.

Whether you’re a low-level dealer who wants to inform Old Bill that you exclusively accept judgement from a higher power or you’re a prospective Trinity Graduate seeking concise use of the Latin tongue for your philosophy assignment, or anywhere between – we’re all happy to be defined by quotes that connect with us, quotes that move us. In modernity where social standing is often predicated by online presence, quotations fit perfectly into a space where succinctness is key. Spend a day on Twitter and observe what goes viral and what doesn’t and you’ll know all about people’s fondness for short expressive statements. But, inversely, you’ll also see how all quotations are not born equally – and it’s with that in mind that I’d like you to consider the following two quotes:

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

“I fuckin love Chaplins, grand little boozer.”

They probably don’t appear to be, but these two quotes share a connection. It may be tentative and completely contrived for the sole purpose of this article but hey, a tentative contrived connection is still a connection. The first quote, as I’m sure some will have recognised, is one from Charlie Chaplin. Not someone I’ve been overly familiar with down through the years, I can happily say that having spent a precious hour of my employer’s time on Chaz’s Wikipedia page that I do like the cut of the man. He’s most certainly the type of lad whom you’d consider a worthy of having a pub named in his honour – and yes, this is where Chaplin’s gets its name from, but we’ll come back to that in a couple of paragraphs’ time.

The second quotation is one from someone who hasn’t yet quite reached the dizzying heights of fame that The Tramp did back in the early 1900s – Pintman №3. But I thought it appropriate to include because isn’t it an honest appraisal after all. Pintman №3 knows the score, he worked in close proximity to Chaplin’s so you know his assessment of the place isn’t a spurious one. Bolstering my surety in his assessment of the place is his disclosure in a text message, which follows the aforementioned quotation, that he’s sat in a pub close to his office putting some finishing touches on a bit of work he has to hand in that afternoon. If only my job was like that.

My job isn’t like that. But I do get plenty of time to write these posts on the sly so I suppose I better get back to Chaplin’s. As alluded to above – the pub is named after the most world’s most famous Chaplin – Charlie. The reason for this is explained in a claim made on the pub’s website stating that himself once visited the premises while on holiday to Ireland, they opt not to disclose any further inforation regarding this visit thereafer. I’ve had a poke around and haven’t been able to substantiate the claim to such a degree of accuracy to put Charlie in the same address on Hawkins’ St, but it is noted that he performed as part of a Clog Dancing troupe named The Eight Lancashire Lads in The Theatre Royal Hippodrome, which sat on Hawkins’ Street itself. So he has at least that association with the street at the very least.

Almost ecclesiastical in its appearance, Chaplin’s is characterised, in my mind at least, by the set of three or four wooden stands which sit in the pub’s main expanse. These carved, overhang-less structures look like they’d be more geared toward affording a foundation to a large candle in the pro-cathedral instead of housing a rake of pints, but they get the job done well enough. Along with these, the pub offers ample ledge space for further pint perching options and there are a few dividers along the span of these also.
I’d tend to describe the pub’s size as being somewhere between the small and the medium. It’s a dark enough spot but retains just about enough illumination to escape it being labelled as ‘too dark’. A bit of stained glass around the room adds a certain charm and there’s plenty of decoration on the wall, some of which we decided was probably a set of postcards depicting the various works on show in The National Gallery.

Seating is kept fairly uniform- the front of the pub offers high seating on exclusive means, with all the lower seating kept the back of the room which closes in, conforming to the building’s curve. The bar itself is relatively small to other’s around the city but is a good size relative to the room. The drink options lean more toward the old reliables but there tends to be a few choices for those feeling more adventurous. The Guinness is not to a standard that it’s ever set my world alight but I’ve heard it lauded by a few people over the years. On balance, I find it a decent enough pint – certainly nothing to ever consider avoiding. As far as the finances go – it was selling for €5.20 a fill upon the last time that we visited, which would have been around December 2018.

So seeing as we’ve put such an emphasis on quotation here, it’s probably fitting that we re-emphasise Pintman №3’s previous sentiment and agree that Chaplin’s is indeed a – “grand little boozer” and one we’ve always found to be simple in its approach and as somebody once said: Simplicity of approach is always best.

A couple of posts back you might remember that we were drawing parallels between pubs and books. Well, rejoice ye lovers of poorly constructed prose because here comes this poorly effected simile once again.

Pubs and books… consider, if you will, the similarities between the two – how both a pub and a book are home to many a great story, both have acted as vehicles for education and enlightenment for as long as we care to remember, and both are a source of refuge where the common man can go to escape the mundanity of ordinary everyday life.

Keeping that in mind, let us say that as we continue to wade through the convoluted task of drinking our way through the entire network of boozers in dear old dirty Dublin town, we’ve come to recognize a great many parallels between the pubs of our beloved capital city. We’ve identified things that are true of some pubs and have also come to recognize some traits that can be attributed to all pubs. It’s one of the latter of these two observations that brings us back to our initial thought – given that it’s true that of all books that they should not be judged by their covers we’d argue that the same sentiment can be applied to pubs regarding their façade.

Taking the pictured Peadar Brown’s here as an example, it’s haphazardly decorated frontage sitting amidst apartments and fast-food units just don’t really constitute the type of composition typical of the more refined imagery you’ll find adorning products upon the shelves of souvenir shops. And this is, at least for our own selfish reasons, a good thing. For if an image of Peadar Browns’ facade could convey the level of craic available inside – the place would be besieged by every imaginable incarnation of plastic paddy conceivable, and within days it would be rendered uninhabitable for discerning drinkers like you and me.

It was the weekend of the All-Ireland Football Final last year when Pintman №2 and I had fallen afoul of the ire of the man behind the taps in Fallon’s (we love you Fallon’s but good jaysus can you be a narky one.)Deciding not to tarnish our perception of the pub any further, we decided that it was high time that we ticked Peadar Brown’s off the list. Heading southward up to Clanbrassil Street we soon found ourselves at the threshold of the pub which had temporarily rebranded itself as Jim Gavin’s in tribute to the Dublin bainisteoir himself. Tentatively we crossed the threshold to find a pub that we instantly regretted having not visited sooner.

With tiles toward the front of the pub and beautifully weathered wooden boards flooring the back end, the pub is decorated traditionally throughout. The ephemera around the place is in plentiful supply and ranges from local and national history to sport to the usual knick-knacks like vintage beer and cigarette advertisements.

Amongst the more traditional décor, there is a theme to be found. Denoted by painted bodhráns, as this particular theme tends to be, we recognized a definite Republican flair to Peadar Brown’s. With portraits of the signatories of the 1916 proclamation and the prominent placement of the green Irish Republican flag over the mantle, it’s not the type of place we personally would have been advocating a visit to for any of the lads in white rugby tops that we encountered culturally appropriating African American slave song around temple bar over the weekend just gone. We’d also be wary of bringing any Rangers fans in too, we noted the pub to be a bit of a hub for Celtic fans given the couple of die-hard hoops propping up the bar early one Sunday taking in some inconsequential tie with a rival from the bottom of the league table.

Upon our first visit (which would inspire plenty more) we settled in with two jars of Arthur. Having counted the change returned and calculated them to have impacted the pocket to the tune of €4.60 apiece, we turned our attention to the quality. And let us say that these gargles were as creamy as that poxy couch in your granny’s front room. Served in the preferred tulip shaped vessel, we found no fluke to be identified with the quality remaining constant throughout the duration of our first session here, and let me tell you – it did end up as a session. With the sole intention of dropping in for a pint or two to give the pub a try, Pintman №2 and I soon realised we’d be here for a longer spell than initially intended.

As if being satisfied with the atmosphere, the gargle and the aesthetics wasn’t good enough, Peadar’s had another ace up its sleeve. We were barely into our third pint when we came to notice a growing assembly of musicians beginning to occupy the back section of the pub. In ones and twos, we observed the arrival them – a guitarist or two first, then a piper, then a fiddler and then plenty more besides. By the time we were halfway through our fourth pint we were front row to a blistering All-Ireland eve céilí and Peadar Brown’s had captured our heart.

So you may take your picturesque rip-off dens festooned in fairy lights and hanging baskets. They might look the part on a calendar or a postcard or a fridge magnet. But no such piece of overpriced tat could possibly deliver the type of craic that you’ll find within the walls of Peadar Brown’s. This pub is a pillar of its community, a place of music and culture, a proper public house! This is a real Dublin pub!

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.

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.

It seems that the further we wade into our task of boozing around all the watering holes in Dublin city the more and more apparent it becomes to us that the inner-city is an incredibly fascinating place. As far back as the splendour of Georgian townhouses right through the era of slums and tenements, and onwards to council estates, regeneration and whatever else may come, the history of Dublin city’s last few hundred years could almost solely be charted from examining the ebb and flow of the culture and society on inner city streets down throughout the years. Dominick St is one such inner city street.

Standing through all those periods aforementioned, and for a good 260 years or so, is No. 41 Dominick Street – a building which now houses Cumiskey’s pub. No stranger to historical events, itself – it’s a structure with plenty of interesting stories to tell if the national archives are anything to go by. Having done a quick search with the address, we were almost instantly onto a webpage listing copies of forms related to applications made by its former occupants to The Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, 1916, in order to ‘Claim for Damages caused during the Disturbances on the 24th April, 1916, and following days’. One particular occupant, a Ms Lizzie Burchill, made a claim for ‘£6 10s for destruction of clothing due to gunfire’ which yielded a determination by the committee that she should receive £3. Another claim was made by Messrs J&J Doyle but was declined by the committee as the gentlemen exceeded the deadline within which their claim should have been made. Thankfully though, it wasn’t all bad news for the lads – at least not for John, who made up one of the two J Doyles. He made a claim for ‘£3 for destruction of silver watch by fire at Hopkins and Hopkins, jewellers, 1 Sackville Street Lower’ and got 2 quid back for his troubles.

Anyway, 100 years on from when Lizzie Burchill and John Doyle were dodging trams on Sackville Street, trams have again returned to the capital’s main thoroughfare and are bringing people right by the front of 41 Dominick St. We, ourselves, recently rolled by and couldn’t resist dropping in to have a look at what sat behind this pub’s alluring exterior.

A smaller-than-expected sort of space, it comprises of two main atria that are connected by a corridor which also happened to house the bar. The northern atrium is the quainter affair of the two and is the one where we chose to park ourselves when last we visited. With soft-yellow embossed wallpaper and royal red velvet couches, we enjoyed two superiorly-poured pints while remarking that the room’s exclusive inclusion of low seating made it a real and proper lounge, in every sense of the word. Familiar ephemera adorns the walls in this section and yours truly was happy enough to be sat under a copy of the proclamation until becoming envious of some other patrons sitting in the corner given what was displayed beside them. Cast in white plaster, the unmistakable likenesses of Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew gaze out at drinkers who sit in close proximity.

We didn’t spend much time in our analysis of the southern atrium, if we’re to be truthful. As alluded to above, we found to it to be the less formal of the two main sections, if that makes sense. The section you’d be less self-conscious about raising your voice in, y’know? Or so we thought as we made our way through it into the jaxx. Oh and speaking of the jaxx, Pintman  Nº2 reckoned it must be one of the only, or at most one of the few in Dublin with a clear window that looks out into the street… Thankfully away from the more purposeful parts of the room.

Cumiskey’s is a fine unpretentious little boozer and I wish we hadn’t left it so long to finally make a visit there. Next time we go, I’ll be dragging the lads down early to get the seat beside Ronnie and Luke.

 

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, I came to realise that considering Trinity College as one’s Alma Mater by virtue of having served a small portion of an ill-fated electrical apprenticeship on-campus is not an act that bona fide Trinity Graduates are agreeable to. This is not even negotiable when coupled with hours clocked up drinking cans on the Green at The Pav or drinking pints in Doyle’s. I suppose we’ll just have to hold out for an honorary degree in the meantime.

Sitting on the corner of College St. – Doyle’s can sometimes be considered as something of an ad-hoc student bar serving the nearby Trinity College. More a bar with students than a student bar, you can forego the thoughts of sloppy-drunk youngsters nosily gathered around a beer pong table when you come to think of Doyle’s – the place is first and foremost a public house. Traditional in its appearance – it’s decorated in similar tones to average Dublin Pubs throughout town. Dark woods are used for the bar, the floors and the church pew style seating and set the overall look of the pub. The walls display the usual mix of ephemera relating to sport, drinking, music and local history while flourishes of exposed brick and air ducts add a sort of understated rustic charm to the room. The bar itself follows the circular pattern of the pub – wrapping around the curves of the room it leaves no patron more than a couple of metres away from a point of service.

The pint of stout has always hit the mark for us in here and has never given us too much reason for complaint. There’s a decent mix of crafty options alongside the old reliables and there’s usually an offer or two on the go for the students and thrifty postgraduates alike.

All in all we couldn’t fault Doyle’s too much. It’s a pub that facilitated Pintman №3’s tentative foray into the world of pints and pubs and he refuses to view it through any other lens than one that’s heavily tinted with nostalgia. And that’s not to say that the rest of us don’t have our fond memories of the place too – notwithstanding the time the three of us almost came to blows after a disagreement over a question in a Father Ted quiz in the upstairs bar. But that’s a story for another day.

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.

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 on the intersection of Marlborough and Abbey Street, a stone’s throw away from the famed abbey theatre sits a pub named The Flowing Tide. The pub occupies a space upon a bustling streetscape between the wider city centre and umpteen bus termini leaving it to act as a conduit to the tide of commuters, shoppers and addicts going about their daily routines.

In all of the years and years I spent passing by this pub on my way to and from town I had never set foot in it until relatively recently. The reason for this is one I never quite figured out. It may have been some sort of subconscious allegiance to the nearby Sean O Casey’s – which was my father’s town local. Whatever the reason, a precedence had been set and I was to spend years ignoring The Flowing Tide, and what a silly ignorance that was.

When we first set out to check out The Flowing Tide we all had our reservations, the local ne’er-do-wells that tend to frequent Abbey St led us to believe that this pub would be one that continued the theme from outside within the pub. How utterly wrong we were. First of all the lighting. Other pubs take note – the lighting here is the optimum amount of light one should strive to illuminate their bar with. Bright enough to read the paper and dim enough to mask the quarter pint of porter you’ve spilled down your front in excitement.

The overall appearance of the pub is kind to the eyes. The exposed brickwork toward the end of the bar tallies well with the wooden floors and the cream walls elsewhere. Celtic knot work adorns spots across the walls and serves to break the mundanity of the cream hue nicely. The stained glass windows aafford the pub a more spiritual edge while pictures across the walls are varied and encompass plenty of nods to the abbey scattered throughout.

The pint we’ve always found to be of a high standard and have yet to have a bad one. There’s toasties made with batch bread on the go too if you’re so inclined.

Overall The Flowing Tide is a diamond in the rough. A characterful boozer pouring good pints and only a stone’s throw from the bus stop. Why would you wait for a bus anywhere else.

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.