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Sitting in close proximity to one of our boundary lines – The Royal Canal, Lowry’s is a pub firmly in the centre of the inner city Dublin. Given the pub’s proximity to Croke Park it may be one that thirsty GAA fans will recognise easily – older regulars will remember it by its former name – Belton’s, it having been part of a chain of pubs attributed to former Lord Mayor of Dublin: Paddy Belton.

 

 

We haven’t really a whole lot to say about Lowry’s really. Pintman Nº2 and I visited last year on the occasion of a match day and found little incentive to hang around for too long. A sparsely decorated pub, we found the overall look to be a clinical one aided in no part from the light colour scheme and the textured, shiny wallpaper which all served to alienate the overall aesthetic from that expected of your run-of-the-mill Dublin boozer. TVs were ubiquitous around the space allowing ticketless fans to catch any of the action going on down the road that they would be otherwise be missing.

Our misgivings about the fit-out aside, there’s wasn’t too bad of a buzz around the place in the preceding hours to the impending fixture in Croke Park. The staff were all more than capable when it came to dispensing pints to the thirsty hoards and consistently did so at a rate in keeping with the demand. A pint of Guinness is returned to me on this particular occasion in a Budweiser glass sparking that age old debate on whether such an importance should be put on the vessel within which a pint is served on, and whether it’s allowable to diminish said importance in the setting of a busy bar. The pint, which is following a few of its friends before it, is drank without too much difficulty in the end.

Overall we couldn’t lie and say that we left here with any sort of urgency to return, especially not when such a gem like The Bridge Tavern is only up the road, but if you’re looking for a few on the way up to Croker there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop in.

I’m a bit annoyed at The Sunset House! You see, the pub was rebranded as The Brendan Behan after a fatal gangland shooting back in 2016, and this was the name that the pub was trading under when we made our only visit there back in September of last year. Being aware of the name and needing no persuading – yours truly here wrote a piece on the pub which was more of an ode to Brendan Behan than anything else. You can imagine my disappointment when I rocked up to Summerhill Parade to snap the pub last January, only to discover that it had reverted to its former name – The Sunset House. So queue in a re-write and a not-so-swift realisation that the pub’s signage had been obscured by a traffic light in the photo I’d taken, and I’d returned to Summerhill once more for another snap only to find the pub closed. In the intervening times that I’ve passed the boozer I’ve always found it closed * – so this image will have to do for now.

*[I’m not sure if it’s gone the way of Gill’s down the road and decided upon a more skeleton set of opening dates, or if it’s just plain closed-down. D1/D3 folks might advise us of what the craic is in the comments.]


Anyhow, I suppose I’m glad that I managed to snap an open and operating Sunset House during an actual sunset, albeit with obscured signage – we made just the one visit here over the years and happened to do so on what we can only assume to be one of the pub’s busier trading days – All Ireland Final Day. With Dublin Facing off against Mayo in the 2017 decider – Pintman №2 and I, GAA novices at best, found the bluest attire we possessed and took to the boozers of Summerhill hoping to suck up some of the atmosphere. Arriving in during the earlier half of 1PM we found The Sunset House to be as busy as one would expect any purveyor of alcohol in close proximity to a stadium on the day of a final to be.

In the past we’ve spoken about how some boozers sometimes defy expectations set by their exterior, The Sunset House is no such a pub. There was little or nothing to write home about when it came to the appearance of this pub, bright and plain – the colours bring an unwanted sense of sterility to the place. The seating is basic enough and Pintman №2 and I agreed that the only noteworthy feature of the pub was the bar which had been constructed from brick.

The pint was good and in a fine flow with the increased level of custom, mine came to the table in a Smithwicks Glass which prompted a discussion on whether such an offence was excusable given the day that was in it. The price isn’t remembered as one that caused any offence to either of us.

The vibe in the place was surreal enough, we agreed that we’d need to return to get a feel for the place on an ordinary day but for now we embraced the mix of patrons brought in by the impending game. A DJ sat ensconced into a corner of the pub blasting unfazed patrons with that type of paddywhacking continuity-republican music you might hear at the end of the night at some ropey cousin’s wedding. Face-painters did the rounds and coloured in the cheeks of children with their team colours of choice – I was disappointed that Pintman №2 wasn’t further along with the gargle such that he’d be more agreeable to having his mush painted too. As we finished out our gargles we’d clocked a local in a weathered Bowie t-shirt. Having remarked on him being the oldest lounge boy we’d ever seen we pondered as to whether he’d been coerced into the job with the promise of free gargle the night prior.

Even though we wouldn’t see this place threatening to breach the top one hundred cosy boozers in the capital, we’d still hate to think that the sun had set on The Sunset House. Hopefully it’s still on the go or at least will be again soon.

 

It was few years ago and during the course of a casual conversation with a colleague that I came to realise that Lloyd’s of Amiens St. was a pub I needed to visit as soon as possible.

Being on the occasion of having recently started a new job – I found myself talking to a well-established member of staff for such a substantial duration that platitudes and my grossly limited knowledge of football would no longer suffice in their efforts to sustain the conversation – so I changed to the subject to pubs, which is when he said it.

With the topic in hand – this colleague came to mention Lloyd’s on Amiens St – he remarked on how the pub was one he was familiar with as it was his grandfather’s local, before suffixing the statement by calmly adding that his grandfather “wrote his will in there”. This is a boozer I need to see, thought I.

A bit of a North Inner City institute, Lloyd’s sits on the corner of Amiens St. and Foley St. A medium sized sort of pub – its interior follows an almost hook-like shape with regard to its floor space. Wooden flooring sits underfoot at the front of the pub while carpet takes over at the back section. Seating is comprised almost exclusively of low tables which are complimented by stools and couches – all of which are neatly upholstered. We spotted just the one high table which was located close to the bar.

The bar itself is flanked by the expected couple of stools along its length and is a fairly solid looking structure. Built of carefully varnished dark wood, it contains a well branded header which wouldn’t struggle too badly to inform the blindest of patrons that they are in “Lloyd’s of Amien St. Est. 1823” – this statement is made twice in appealing gold embossed letters, each instance of which is separated by a clock which is recessed into the wood.

Pictures hung upon the wall mainly relate to sport and one in particular caught our eye so much that I’ve just spent an hour on google looking for it. The image (below) is one of a seven-a-side football match in an historical inner city area toward the rear of Gardiner St known as The Gloucester Diamond.

It’s been a good year and a half or more since I last darkened the door of this boozer, but Pintman №2 and №3 happened to drop in a few weeks ago and found themselves surprised to discover that the pub was showing television coverage of a certain wedding that a group of high profile tax-dodgers were hosting in a neighbouring state – y’know the one.

Finding themselves on the end of the type of look someone might receive from a group of locals in a pub that they aren’t known to frequent – Pintman №3 quickly piped up to disarm the gang of regulars by enquiring as to whether they had bought the wedding in “on the pay-per-view”. After a bit of a chuckle the lads hastened to insist that the viewing choice was solely for the benefit of a woman who happened to be in cleaning the pub – a statement that Pintman №2 classified as a dubious one given the comparative level of interest shown between the gang of lads and the cleaner.

As the rest of Pintman №2 and №3’s time elapsed in the pub they were also to meet another character who Pintman №2 describes as bearing a striking resemblance to Bricktop from the movie Snatch. While there, Bricktop spent his time brandishing a cheap sharpening stone he had acquired that day. When asked what he was doing with such an item he responded that it was to sharpen his knives, “incase I need to stab one of you bastards”. The lads legged it shortly afterward.

I’m also assured that the pint in Lloyd’s is still up to the high standard I remember it as previously being at – and still very competitively priced to boot. So if you’re looking for a good pint, or a few characters, or if you’re just a closet West Brit seeking like-minded drinking buddies – Lloyd’s could be the place for you.

A while back in the throes of a decent enough hangover I found myself stuck in an unending cycle of YouTube videos as I awaited some semblance of enthusiasm with which I could use to get up and start my day. In midst of all this I stumbled upon one of these Ted Talk videos that YouTube is awash with. The video centred on a sole speaker’s travel experiences whereby he had crossed multiple continents with little or no money. I was chatting to someone the other day about our mission on Dublin By Pub and I was reminded of a particular part of this video. The part of the talk I recalled was when the speaker recounted how people would be concerned for his safety when he’d tell them of his plans to hitchhike through different territories, he told of how Serbs would warn him of the dangers in Bulgaria, and how Bulgarians would warn him of the dangers in Turkey and then in turn the Turks would warn him of about the Kurds, and so on. Now we’re not likening the act of drinking a few pints here and there to a spiritual intercontinental journey but it is interesting to see how people react when you tell them of your visits or intentions to visit certain pubs in certain areas of the city. Summerhill is one such area.

With the forewarning and concern of others in tow we headed down to Summerhill over the autumn of 2017 to sample what the boozers here had to offer, and in The Bridge Tavern we found a bit of a diamond in the rough. First of all it would be remiss of us to not make some mention of Dublin GAA, as the picture shows – this is a pub which fully embraces its proximity to Croke Park Stadium and wears its love for county on its sleeve, and its façade

Inside the pub the front section is broken into two main atria, with the pub opening up to a larger and brighter section toward the rear. Dark toned woods and tiled mosaic flooring are the most notable features of the structural aesthetic. This however, is one of these pubs where bric-a-brac rules supreme – the wall and ceiling space is jumbled with all sorts of conversation pieces- these range from images of sportsmen, musicians, actors, historical figures, and most importantly – locals. We always love to see a picture of a deceased local or two in a boozer and speculate on the time, money and liver function one would have to spend in a pub to be considered for such an honour. And please do take this sentiment to form an addendum to our last will and testament – for we would be honoured to adorn the wall of any beloved boozer upon our demise. The Bridge Tavern struck us to be somewhat more liberal around the qualifying criteria given that there appeared to be imagery of locals aplenty across the wall-space of the boozer.

We found the staff in the pub to be of sound order. The customers are well facilitated, particularly the gamblers. We can only postulate that the owner is determined not to be disadvantaged by the absence of an immediately proximate betting shop, but suffice it to say that notes aplenty inform customers of a bet placing service which strictly warn all gamblers to place bets five minutes in advance of the start of a given race. The pint pours well in here, we guzzled a few rounds from new enough tulip glasses which bore the logo of The GAA along with the usual Guinness branding.

So as I harken back to my initial recounting of the Ted Talk lad wandering the earth, I can only reiterate his sentiment. And granted, a pint in Summerhill is no hike across the Eurasian Plain, the same concept applies – and that is not to allow the perceived fears and the prejudices of others become your own, get out and make up your own mind. Jaysis that was fierce preachy wasn’t it? – Dry January can’t end quickly enough!

 

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.