Tag Archive for: small

A month or two back I found myself in the fortunate circumstance to be chatting away with a ninety-five-year-old man by the name of Bill. Bill, as it turns out, is someone who spent a sizeable portion of his life working at the St James’ Gate brewery. A man more than capable of spinning a yarn or two, he had me enthralled with all his stories of the antics and the goings-on in Guinness’ way back in the pre-Diageo days.

McCann’s: James’ St.

As you can well imagine, it didn’t take me too long of a time to get around to quizzing Bill on what pubs local to the brewery were like back in the day. His response to which, initially, was something of a disappointing one. ‘I couldn’t really tell ya’ he told me, before adding that he ‘seldom drank in them’. Having my suspicions that his response wasn’t one that was the result of temperance, I could only find myself able to respond to his answer with another question – why? So he proceeded to tell me the reason for his answer, and it’s a bit of a gem.

‘This Friday’, as he put it, ‘we were after arriving into work and finding out that one of the men had had his first baby, well, his Mrs did, that is. So we said we’d better go around and wet the baby’s head during our tea, y’see.’

Electing to head across the road to a pub by the name of Hannan’s, all the men present opted for a libation befitting of the celebration at hand, and it was when they began to drink these particular beverages that the trouble began.

‘So we fill-t the table up with plenty of little fellas’, said Bill, ‘because we were celebrating y’know. But no sooner had we started drinking, in walks God Number One and God Number Two – My boss and my boss’ boss. And the two of them gawking across the pub at us all drinking shorts – and this is eleven o’clock in the morning, remember. So we said we better finish up and head off.’

So up they did finish and off they did head and no more was heard of it until Monday morning. It was then that Bill was called into the boss’ office, where the boss then proceeded to… lambast him, to use the appropriate parlance.

‘Ah, he gave me an awful telling off’ Bill recalled, ‘since we were after getting him in trouble with his own boss and that, and d’ye know what he says to me?… He says to me that it wasn’t even that yis were all skiving off to the pub on your tea. It’s just that there wasn’t even a single Guinness product on the bloody table! Not even a bottle of stout between the lot of ye.’

Things have changed since then. The marketing tactics deployed by Bill’s former employers are a far more sophisticated affair and Hannan’s is now referred to as McCann’s. Unchanged, thankfully, is the building’s purpose as a public house. And a good one at that.

A small one-roomed sort of shop, McCann’s has cosiness in spades. Exposed brick and natural wooden tones keep the vibe traditional at its essence. A large clock takes pride of place behind the bar – it being recessed into the structure while the seating is standard enough – high stools at the bar and couches and low stools around the low tables elsewhere. Walls are adorned with portraits of persons of Irish historical significance – JFK, Arthur Guinness, Behan and The Dubliner’s.

The drink isn’t as run-of-the-mill as one would expect from the pub’s traditional appearance. Contained within, is a good amount of promotion and branding relating to a beer by the name of Kentucky – several variants of which are available behind the bar (their bourbon barrel ale being a fairly tasty sup) along with a good selection of beers from Foxes Rock. My suspicions were confirmed when I googled these together to find that they were produced by the same brewery – Station Works Brewery. The selection of whiskey isn’t too shabby either – there’s plenty of the Pearse-Lyons range on offer, as you’d expect with the pub being situated next door to the distillery. The Guinness is as good as it should be in such close proximity to the source and is priced agreeably enough too.

The far end of James’ St. is not an area of town that we manage to find ourselves in all that often. And with cosy little boozers like McCann’s slap-bang in the heart of it, this is something we need to change, pronto!

To this day I still remember the trepidation- the knot growing more intense in the pit of my stomach as the queue of would-be confessors grew worryingly shorter. The mostly empty church was quiet – a gentle murmur emanating from the confines of the confession box was the only audible noise to reach above the din. The relative silence would then abruptly break with the creak of the door signalling the absolution of another soul whose host moved swiftly to complete their penance. You’d slide up a space in the pew and your worry would intensify further.

The Confession Box

1st Confession was a daunting experience as a child and not one which left me with much of an appreciation for confession boxes. Thankfully this lifelong fear (along with many others) would be cancelled out in later life by a Pub.

The Confession Box is another of the city’s more petite drinking spaces, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the pub is named so due to its size and proximity to the Pro-Cathedral. But there’s more to it than that. It’s said that Michael Collins would visit this particular pub from time to time during The War of Independence where he and his subordinates would be furnished with the sacraments of the Catholic Church from sympathetic members of the clergy, hence turning the pub into an ad-hoc confessional.

The ties with Collins are evident in the ephemera dispersed across this small pub. The seating is minimal and crowded giving the pub a vibe which would be known in live music terms as intimate. The bar is the epicentre of the entire pub, a pint could conceivably be ordered from anywhere above ground level in the building.

When we last visited the pint easily lived up to the hype promised by the Best Pint in Dublin award in the window. Propping up the bar we noticed a large cohort of men in butcher’s uniforms scattered throughout the pub. As he had arrived before me, I asked Pintman №2 as to what the craic with all the butchers was. “Some butcher’s convention I think” says he. Ordering our 2nd scoop, the more informed barman identified the butchers for us: A Stag Party. Pintman №2 was suitably admonished for his answer.

The Confession Box is exemplary evidence that good things do come in small packages. Be sure to test out that theory for yourself!

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 that 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 Dawson Lounge: Dawson St.

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 pub’s 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.