Tag Archive for: stoneybatter

I want to start this post like I’ve started no other. And that is with a Leonard Cohen Lyric.

“There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in”

Frank Ryan’s:  Queen St.

Presumably named after the republican veteran of Irish and Spanish conflicts (Update: it’s actually not) – we’d be comfortable enough in labelling Frank Ryan’s as the darkest pub in the city of Dublin, perhaps even the entire country. And as you find yourself rubbing ointment into your bloodied shins of a morning after being there, you will surely agree that there’s neither crack nor light to be found in this Smithfield bar. Sorry, Len!

A seemingly traditional pub beneath all the darkness, it makes use of wood as its primary material and is relatively narrow upon entrance. Becoming partially divided twice along its length, it eventually steps down a foot or two at the back opening somewhat to reveal a pool table. Feeble light that is afforded to patrons of the pub tends to be by means of tea and fairy light, mostly hued in shades of red. Along the walls and hung from the ceiling, should you manage to catch a glimpse, you’ll find any amount of paraphernalia scattered around – the overarching theme of which seems to lean mostly toward music. But, that said, there’s plenty of drink-themed bric-a-brac and license plates filling in the gaps between.

I suppose you might call Frank Ryan’s the original hipster pub – it espouses all the principles the newer incarnations are at pains to remind us about. It has the craft beer, it’ll let you bring the madra in, I think it does pizza somewhere out the back too. But because it doesn’t roar this from the rooftop, and probably because the Guinness is pretty decent too, it manages to retain the charm of a proper Dublin boozer.

Whatever about cracks, there are thankfully no shortcomings in the craic here. Generally, the place keeps a nice relaxed vibe and is the perfect venue for a night of pints and chats. Though, be warned: you’ll want to try somewhere else if you find yourself oscillating at a higher frequency. We decamped into the pub last year, hyper and half-drunk, only to find ourselves subject to the sort of thing that Frank himself sailed to Spain to fight against. Well, not really – but, after having a few jars there, they decided we’d had enough and decided to refuse us further service!

The morning, nay, the afternoon that followed this sorry incident was, as you might imagine, a rough one. Waking to several texts countenancing my proposed cancellation of Frank Ryan’s, the fear set in like a sledgehammer of doom. Such was and is the abiding memory, of this anxiety that I’ve yet to, ahem, darken the door of the pub since.

And to this day the fear that I might have been barred persists. So with that in mind, allow me to finish just as I started, with the wise words of Leonard Cohen. And please, let me directly aim them toward the gatekeepers of the pub which bears the name Frank Ryan’s:

” If I have been unkind

I hope that you can just let it go by

If I, if I have been untrue

I hope you know it was never to you ”

(Update: I was back in and I was grand, maybe they didn’t see me.)

Did you ever hear that one about a lad out in the middle of the desert in the United Arab Emirates years ago? He was wandering around amidst the unspoilt golden sand with his friend, a man from County Cork, and thinking aloud he turned to his friend and said: “I think I’m going to build a city here in the desert”. Looking in agreement the Corkman turned to his friend and replied with two words – “Do Boy!”

McGettigan’s: Queen St.

You might forgive for the Da joke there but, albeit tenuous, it seemed like a decent way to introduce my next and even more tenuous point given that it brings me onto the subject of Dubai.

Dubai, to me, looks like shite craic. Alongside the annoyance of rich lads measuring their respective flutes via the means of consumerism – it’s a bit like a trip to the beach, but taken to the extreme – hot, sandy and difficult to get a gargle. Just not the sort of place I’d be prioritising a visit to. The heat is bad, it is but the drink is probably my main concern.

Drink is treated strangely over in Dubai as far as I can ascertain, it’s heavily regulated and you can seemingly be arrested for landing in the country with a few pints in the system. But that said, you can get a scoop over there and it would seem that one of the foremost places to do so is in one of a number of places which are the namesake of this unassuming Smithfield boozer – McGettigan’s. Anecdotally, by drunk men, I’ve been told that this McGettigan’s is the one which got the ball rolling on what could be easily described as an empire of bars, many of which are situated in Dubai. Now we haven’t been able to corroborate that so maybe somebody who knows any better could let us know in the comments.

A one small roomed shop resplendent with dark wood and traditional seating, this pub is, at its essence, a standard cosy local Dublin boozer. It was actually one of the first pubs we posted on instagram when we set up DublinByPub feel free to seek that out and check out an era when the standard of our photos and captions mightn’t have been as carefully considered as they are now.

The pub would seem to have upped its push toward a tourist market of late with plenty of signage about the place advertising their food and drink offerings but that’s not to say it’s still catering to the locals too. The pint purveyed is a grand sup too for which you will expect to part with €4.80 for the pleasure of.

It’s also a more traditional pub given its opening times. Recently I found myself thirsty early-on in the Benburb St. district and McGettigan’s was my only saving grace. It’s nearby neighbours Frank Ryan’s and The Dice Bar leave their staff a decent lie-in, not opening till around 3 or 4.

So you can take your bespoke fancily furnished bars dotted throughout the UAE and beyond. When it comes to us there’s only the one McGettigan’s on the map. And it’s here in Dublin along the Luas line in the united emirates of Smithfield.

Dry January may be entirely at odds with the rhetoric that we usually espouse here on DublinByPub, but I should start this post by admitting that I’m currently allowing the liver its annual holiday and am in the midst of the much-maligned detox. Dry January itself is never really an easy affair for someone such as myself – generally, the first week or so is fine, but anything thereafter is exponentially more difficult and even more so in 2018 when managing an Instagram account whereby much of the content you encounter is provocative portraits of all things beer, bars and whiskey.

Delaney’s: King St.

But stereotypically enough there is a silver lining to dry January’s stormy cover and this comes in the form of an unclouded mind which has finally allowed us to get around to composing some posts relating to a couple of our more foggy ventures to boozers in 2017. One such encounter was our maiden voyage to Delaney’s of Smithfield, a visit made on the tail end of a nine pub crawl which in all honesty left Dublin By Pub collectively and comprehensively bolloxed.

Stumbling into this pub we were to find ourselves front of stage for a karaoke extravaganza and having sussed out a ledge we took in the aesthetic of the boozer which was up to our usual standard. A perfectly lit pub, its tones of red and dark woods worked well with contrasting creamier hues. The bar runs the length of the room leaving plenty of room for orders while dividers break up the span and offer some degree of privacy. A large column in the centre of the room demarcates the area of the pub which has more of a lounge vibe given the lower seating and carpet. Overall a fine boozer and two extra bonus points must be awarded for the open fire and the unexpectedly impressive smoking area out the back, the entrance of which is guarded by a suit of armour.

Having retrieved three good pints from the bar the campaign to convince Pintman №3 to reprise his role as Elvis began in earnest. Given the stage of the evening, he didn’t take all that much convincing and before we knew it he was upon the stage swinging his arm with all the vigour that readers of our previous post on Delahunty’s of Dorset St. might recall. His first song of the evening was received well, so much so that he was invited for a second, and that’s where it went a bit pear-shaped. As Pintman №3 eased his way into the bridge of Suspicious Minds his inner Elvis was overtaken by an inner drunken, riot-inciting Jim Morrison, who added a refrain of “Yeah you would Elvis, ya big lying cheating bastard” to the lines ‘You know I’d never lie to you” – a few of the aul lads didn’t look impressed. And as Pintman №3 beckoned to the unimpressed crowd to “c’mon t’fuck” in the empty vocal space of the outro we knew this would be his last song.

Delaney’s is a fine establishment well worthy of a visit, just don’t upset the Elvis purists.

One of the best things about Dublin City from the perspective of three trainee pintmen is the layout of pubs across the city. The convenient proliferation of drinking establishments along single avenues is an aspect of the city that facilitates fantastic sessions.

Tommy O Gara’s: Stoneybatter

We’re often confused when people pay outside entities to organise pub crawls for them. I mean, it’s not exactly open-heart surgery. Here’s the secret to a good pub crawl – pick a street with 5 or more boozers and drink your way from one end to another. Right!? You all owe me a tenner.

We undertook one such crawl during the summer and it has swiftly become the crawl we find ourselves recommending the most: The Stoneybatter Mile – Hanlon’s to the Cobblestone. This is a crawl that caters for all demographics, it has the traditional, the quirky and the crafty, then comes Tommy O Gara’s.

We almost immediately agreed that this boozer was alike a country pub that had been scooped from its foundations beyond the pale and planted square in the centre of Stoneybatter. The aesthetic is a common one seen throughout the country – mild wooden tones meld with carpet upon entrance as the space opens up to embrace tiled flooring toward the back of the bar. We recognised straight away that this was a solid GAA pub, not only from the ephemera across the walls but also due to the prominence given to the Leinster Semi-Final between Kilkenny and Wexford which left soccer fans to seek the clashing international fixtures elsewhere.

Sitting toward the back at one of the type of tables you might recall from The Snapper (those with an additional tier, in order to facilitate the storage of more pints) we devoured three well-crafted pints and took in the hurling. As the match drew to a close, the lads, being better versed in the topic of popular competitive sports than I, deemed the pub to be the best spot for a match in Stoneybatter. Me, I’d happily return to watch flies race if needs must.

O Gara’s is a good no-nonsense pub and a fine antithesis to the notions of a Stoneybatter that seems to be ever-gentrifying.

We’ve been thinking for a while now about what we’d say when we penned our thoughts on L Mulligan Grocer. After some discussion, we loosely came to agree that the pub – which is a mainstay of a gentrified Stoneybatter, is one which must first be commended. The reason we commend this pub is down to the fact that its owners have managed to transform an old-school Dublin boozer into a modern gastropub while retaining all the glorious features of said old-school boozer. And judging by the crowd when we arrived on a summer’s afternoon – they’ve managed to make a success of it.

L. Mulligan Grocer: Stoneybatter.

Alas though it’s not all plain sailing as far as this piece goes. I knew there was trouble ahead when we arrived at the pub and found our way to the bar to order. Now there are a few statements that the lads don’t want to hear in the middle of a session, I mean statements that would be deemed less favourable than news of impending nuclear war. Unfortunately, the barman was to utter one of these statements – ‘No Guinness here lads’.

Now anyone familiar with DBP will know the diversity of opinions on crafty options amongst us, me being in favour. But denying the lads a pint of Guinness mid-crawl is akin to substituting a toddler’s lollipop for a plate of sprouts. We propped up the bar and tucked into a few very good, yet controversial pints of Porterhouse stout.

The interior of the pub is A1. Tiled and wood flooring lies underfoot, and an antique scale sits proudly at the end of the bar. The bar, running the considerable length of the pub is flanked with dinner tables and boasts a wide assortment of options on tap and on cask. The space behind is decorated traditionally hosting antique mirrors and a vast selection of whiskey. Where the bar ends the space opens up in volume and in light.

As it would turn out, we didn’t agree on the experience here. L. Mulligan’s, as we did agree, is a fantastic restaurant – the food looked pretty good. But we, seeking the type of rowdy ale house atmosphere we so dearly love weren’t to find it a good suss this time around. And that’s fine. We may head back at a later hour and see if we can find more pub than restaurant next time around.

Brendan Behan famously once described himself as a drinker with writing problems – this is something that one would assume that the person who set out to describe The Cobblestone was well aware of. Labelling itself as a drinking pub with a music problem, it’s a pub that’s described more succinctly and accurately than most others in the city are.

The Cobblestone: King St.

The Cobblestone is located in the historic district of Smithfield on the outskirts of the northside of the city centre. It endeared itself to us when it threw a party to celebrate the death of Maggie Thatcher when she finally decided to take her throne in hell. It’s not an ornate, museum-worthy Victorian time capsule like many of the pubs we’ve posted previously. It’s rough and it’s ready. It has a grand lick of paint and pictures of musicians aplenty across the walls. The Jaxx is without any charm and one of poorer across the city.

But considerations of the aesthetic kind are irrelevant when it comes to The Cobblestone because this is a pub that does what no other (or very few others) do in Dublin. The cobblestone purveys unadulterated, unamplified, and un-templebar-ified trad every night of the week. You can saunter in there on a random Tuesday night and hear what we here at DBP consider to be the sound of Ireland.

Now there are plenty of nominees for what constitutes itself as the quintessential sound of the island of Ireland. Some will argue it to be the roar of Croke Park on All-Ireland day. Some might deem it to be the tolling of an angelus bell. But we believe the sound of Ireland to be one that resonates within the walls of The Cobblestone. What could sound more characteristically Irish than the tortured moan of the uillean pipes drowning in a cacophony of boisterous conversation as a Guinness tap hisses throughout?

The pint was always a good one when we’ve visited in the past and we’re shamefully well overdue for a visit currently so we can’t comment on price. It’s the goto trad pub in Dublin and we can only hasten that you nip in to hear the sound of Ireland someday soon.

Being well-watered with pints and reinvigorated from the jolt of life a few new recruits bring to a session, we approached The Glimmer Man hungry for a bit of craic. We hadn’t had much of an experience in the pub we’d been to prior so we needed this pub to light a brighter spark. Arriving into the bar we were met by a group of disapproving locals who greeted us by flinging open a door that they were sat next to. They then kindly informed us that “de lounge’s in there lads”, to which we took umbrage.

The Glimmerman

We rebutted to their directions with pint-loudened indignation and enquired after them as to why we weren’t worthy of drinking in the bar. Sizing us up their spokesperson decided that a t-shirt one of us had worn on the day was the suitable reason for our disqualification. The t-shirt in question was a WWE t-shirt which read “JUST BRING IT” in bold white font. (We’ve mentioned the genesis of the shirt in our Red Parrot & Delahunty’s posts previously). Anyway, suffice it to say that this T-shirt wasn’t being worn by choice.

Glimmerman 2

As we digested the reason for our disbarment, one of us spotted that another of the locals was wearing a t-shirt which read “Last Night a BJ Saved My Life”. As we all debated the merits of which t-shirt was more ridiculous the two owners of the offending garments decided that a trade was in order. With the swap complete hilarity ensued and peace resumed in the valley once more.

Accepted into the fold, we sat near the locals and tucked into some well-poured pints. The Glimmer Man is a great-looking pub. The Bar’s stained glass windows and high ceilings give the place a refreshingly roomy feel. We found the chairs in the bar to be a bit mismatched to the overall look though.

The lounge is another world altogether. One could spend days wandering around the space taking in all the paraphernalia which litters the pub. Dropping in for a look at Charlie Haughey and Maggie Thatcher hanging out in a bed affixed to the ceiling is nearly reason enough for a visit alone. We’ll definitely be back to have a closer look at the lounge.

The Glimmer Man is one of the highlights of the Stoneybatter drinking scene. Well recommended.

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.

Clarke’s City Arms: Prussia St.

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 unable 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 the great pint that pours here, to the capable staff that pours it and to Joyce and the Jamesons and all.

It’s gas the things you pick up when you’re trying to add some substance to these DBP posts. I say this having spent the previous twenty minutes googling what the correct architectural term for that cone-shaped window-box type structure on the corner of the pub in the picture is – all in the hope that I could start this post some sort of semi-intelligent sounding blurb. Anyhow the structure is called a turret and suffice it to say that we haven’t encountered too many of them on our travels before. As we approached Kavanagh’s we wondered whether the interior of the pub would live up to the expectation set by the striking exterior and in the author’s opinion, it most certainly did.

Kavanagh’s: Aughrim St.

Alike many of the pubs we’ve been posting about lately –Kavanagh’s boasts bespoke wooden panelling. This partitions the bar into two main sections: a smaller snug area beyond the threshold and the larger bar en masse. The generous allocation of window space coupled with the large light-speckled tiles (which some of the lads weren’t too fond of due to their resemblance to those in their secondary school) make the bar a far brighter space than the lounge.

The main talking point of the interior of the pub however was something which was as unique to the Dublin pub experience as the turret on the outside is. A colourful panoramic mural depicting a Spanish-themed matador scene spans the considerably long wall space atop the bar. When enquiring about it we were reliably informed by the barwoman that it (painted by local art students years ago) is thought to depict the tale of an affair if read in one way but can be interpreted in different ways depending on how it’s read. She then went on to tell us how the aforementioned controversial floor tiles matched those in the local church too.

We propped up against the bar in the larger section of the room and found ourselves on the receiving end of three creamy pints. The bar was empty enough but we enjoyed a bit of neighbourly rivalry between a few of the locals one being an Englishman who was taking a bit of a slagging upon a Scottish equalizer in the ongoing World Cup qualifier. Top pub, we’d return in an instant.

When we arrived at Walsh’s we were at the tail end of a crawl and were merry enough from the pints. Being a weekend evening, the bar was busy enough. The sun was low in the sky and beamed in through the windows intensifying the iridescence of the golden liquors bottled behind the bar. We made for the back of the bar and cosied into a section to savour the last moments before the deluge of pints began to take a more incapacitating hold.

Walsh’s: Stoneybatter

The pub itself is pristine. Dark panelled wood along the bottom of the walls is balanced nicely with a beige tone on the upper half. There’s a tasty little snug just beyond the threshold which sits before the start of the bar.

The décor is standard. Various team photos accompany old cigarette, beer and whiskey ads along the wall, the further side of the bar houses a US mail letter box for reasons unbeknownst to us. This side of the bar also boasts a toasty-looking fireplace which certainly warrants a subsequent winter visit as far as I’m concerned.

The pint was of a high standard and the staff were attentive and competent overall. And although we’d had an enjoyable couple of scoops there during our stay, I couldn’t help but think to myself that I’d appreciate a pub like this more so during the colder parts of the year. Nonetheless, we’d certainly give Walsh’s the DBP thumbs up and personally I’m looking forward to dropping in again… with a bit of a clearer head.