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If you were to ease yourself into a chair in the busy waiting room of an oncology clinic and gorge yourself upon the alcohol hand sanitizer that presumably hangs from the wall there, you’d be spending the same amount of money, but having ten times the craic as you would be if you were drinking in this defacto famine-era soup kitchen!

Have some respect for yourself and walk 20 seconds up the road to The Flowing Tide instead.

The Silver Penny: Abbey St

Seriously, it’s a kip. Don’t bother. I’ve made a balls of the image above there and thown the colours out of whack. I’m not arsed fixing it because the place is a kip!

Sometimes when a bit of research is warranted for pubs that we post we can end up finding ourselves in some strange corners of the internet, take this moment as an example – I’m currently perusing The Intoxicating Liquor act of 1927 in order to identify the section of the act relating to The Holy Hour. All so I can corroborate a Brendan Behan quote in which he states that the politician who introduced The Holy Hour to the Dáil was shot dead an hour afterward. As I type now I’ve already realised that the link I was trying to establish between McGrattans’ proximity to the Dáil and a quote from a renowned drinker about politicians isn’t really there, or extremely tenuous at best.

McGrattan’s: Fitzwilliam Lane

Anyways, for those wondering, Kevin O Higgins – the politician responsible for the since repealed weekly mid-day ban on the sale of alcohol was indeed shot dead – but the timing and motives suggested by Behan’s quote remain unproven.

McGrattan’s is one of those boozers that you just can’t fault the placement of – tucked away and almost remote feeling, it lies down a laneway that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump from the various houses of government located upon Merrion St. Upper. The façade of the pub purports it to have been established in 1798, a claim that is reasonably denied in an article by the fantastic blog: Come Here To Me, which describes the premises as having been converted from a sheet metal workshop to a graduate club for the National University of Ireland in 1964 whereafter it traded as some form of bar up until it’s incarnation as McGrattan’s in 1989.

The interior of the pub is unusual enough – two dissimilar atria are connected by a corridor furnished with pool tables which acts as a buffer between the two. The front atrium is more bar than lounge and would be of the usual appearance seen around the city if not for its wallpaper – patterned stuff reminiscent of that seen in a dodgy strip club you might get bundled into on a budget stag party you might have attended. The seating in the front is entirely comprised of high stools and there’s an open fire too. The back bar, on the other hand, is a more casual affair. Dimly lit, it affords a cosier experience to its occupants with its lower seating and stained glass windows.

Over the years the better nights we’ve had here were after a decent rake of pints, Pintman №4 and I in our younger and more naïve years were both caught short one night when the women we were trying to covertly discuss under the cover of our poorly constructed utterances in Irish turned out to be Irish teachers themselves. Strangely the bad experiences we’ve had were while relatively sober – late last year we happened to incur the wrath of a barman whose desire for us to not drink in the same vicinity as a retired RTE newsreader manifested itself in insults and a noisy accusation of non-payment of a bill that was long settled.

We should close out this post by reminding you, that our idea here is not necessarily to review pubs but to provide a snapshot of them from our perspective, and our perspective here is that we’re probably going to give McGrattan’s a miss for a while after a not-so-nice encounter with a bollocks of a barman. Maybe we should have looked at precedence and kept up our policy of only visiting after a minimum of seven pints, and maybe someday we’ll return, perhaps for the big 250th bash in 2048.

I wonder if you’ve ever found yourself, at some stage in your life, completely contradicting values that you hold dear for no other good reason than gut reaction? This happened to us a number of weeks ago when we wandered into the newly refurbished and newly managed Devitt’s of Camden St which has instiled in us a sense of ambivalence that no other pub ever has.

Devitt’s: Camden St.

Devitt’s, as we knew it, was a family run GAA pub which offered the normality of a local atmosphere amidst the madness of an ever trendier Camden St. Aesthetically traditional, it was just another decent Dublin boozer – wooden flooring and carpet sectionalised areas for high and low seating while dividers aplenty broke up the bar and created nooks and crannies. It was a pub that was aging nicely and the pick of Camden St. in our humble opinion.

During 2017 we heard through various channels that the pub had been sold to a group and that the new owners were quick to put their money where their mouth is, deciding to finance a full refurbishment – news which we had received with much trepidation. Now this is where the contradictions start, so please bear with us. The new fit out is fine – The exterior is immaculate; it would be easily argued that the façade of Devitt’s is the now finest pub frontage from The Grand Canal to Dame St. The interior is, for all intents and purposes, also fine– dark wood, wooden floor, drinking paraphernalia along the walls, it’s everything we look for and if it were a brand new pub that had been installed into a bare shell it would be fine. But it just didn’t sit right with us.

We’ve been pondering this for the last few weeks and our reasoning for not taking to this particular renovation is loosely described in the following sentiment. Essentially Devitts’ new proprietors have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, they’ve literally taken an actual real life old Irish pub and replaced it with a fit out that’s designed to look like an actual real life old Irish pub. They’ve gutted authentic worn in fixtures and fittings and replaced them with faux, pre-worn flatpack versions of themselves. It’s simply an act that we can neither abide nor understand. Imagine if The Stags Head or The Long Hall went for a psychedelic vibe in the 1960s, or went all disco ball in the 70s. What a disaster that would have been.

But what’s done is done and when we arrived we had to reluctantly admit that the new owner’s investment was evidently paying off. An ironic version of a Ronan Keating tune was being blasted out by an energetic duo to a willing crowd which was comprised of a younger demographic than one would have associated with Devitt’s previously. G&T bowls aplenty glistened in the shimmer of Christmas lighting and the overall atmosphere in the pub sounded akin to that one would hear upon passing a temple bar pub on a Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t exactly to our taste.

Determined to not be the grumpy aul bastards in the corner we did decide to focus on the positives. First of all the pint – well poured and very well priced given the location, we couldn’t fault Devitt’s one iota here and can only urge they keep up the good work in this regard. Secondly we had to commend the inclusion of the pub’s GAA heritage within the décor, in particular the maintaining of the beloved porcelain GAA player figurines that any former patrons of Devitt’s will likely remember with much fondness.

In our departure from the pub we couldn’t help but ponder the future for the humble family run Dublin boozer. With way that economics seem to work in Ireland, the sad likelihood is that more and more cherished family run pubs will fall afoul of wealthy groups and chains. We’d like to take this opportunity to issue a warning to these buyers. Pubs are our culture! Sterilising and homogenising them, depending on the flavour of the moment, for the purpose of profit will only ultimately run them into the ground. Then they will render no use – economically or culturally. Look at the most popular of the pubs in Dublin. All of them are dozens or even decades old with only minor aesthetic change throughout the years.

So if you do buy an aging pub, hold off on that big refurbishment, a return on investment is only a century or two away.

In the case of pubs, placement can be everything. A pub can be well placed for a number of reasons, its centrality in a city, its proximity to a residence or its proximity to a focal point like a stadium or shopping centre. T.P. Smith’s which is both relatively central and very close to the Jervis centre could be said to be quite well placed.

T.P. Smith’s: Jervis St.

This pub is one which has generally fallen under our radar in years gone by so we recently decided that it was our duty to suss it out once and for all. We wandered in of a weekend afternoon and found the place to be busy with the type of crowd one expects in a pub close to a shopping centre and citywide transit links.

We found a few seats at the bar and took up position calling for two pints. Taking in the aesthetic we agreed that the fit-out was relatively unique and rather untraditional. Copper fixtures and fittings set the tone of the pub with a monstrous copper clad spiral staircase demanding the attention of all patrons, a large tile mosaic spans the far wall of the pub while the immaculate granite bar-top spans the considerable length of the bar. Surrendered souvenir dollar bills and other mixed currency fills the wall space behind the bar.

As our two pints came to be delivered, we had just about settled on the idea that we liked the bar. The vibe was nice, the lighting good and the pint looked ok. But then disaster struck and we were gone within twenty minutes. Was it the pint? I hear you ask. Well no, not the quality of the pint which was above average if we’re honest. It was the price. Five euro and forty cents. For a pint of Guinness. We won’t bother to repeat our manifesto on the price of a pint here because you as our readers will no doubt, be familiar with our views there but suffice it to say that we won’t be returning to T.P. Smiths, unless we win a decent sum of cash.

Does anybody out there happen to remember MacTurcail’s? It was a large pub on the corner of Townsend and Tara St and in the interest of full disclosure, we should declare our prior bias and state for the record that we loved the MacTurcail’s. It was perfect – a nice traditional style bar, an expansive lounge and dirt cheap pints. The stuff of dreams.

Ruin Bar: Tara St

But morning dawns on all dreams and this one was no different, the pub was fated to disappear in a haze of mystery and tax avoidance rumours a few years back.

Following a lengthy spell of dereliction, a glimmer of hope shone when renovation work finally commenced on the pub, we started to get excited – we shouldn’t have. The pub we were so very fond of was to be gutted. All distinguishing features (except the ceiling) were to be removed and a cooler, hipper refit to be put in place.

We made our maiden voyage to the re-opened pub of a Saturday evening over the summer. The vast open plan expanse was peppered with small groups making the pub a very quiet affair. We found the interior to overload the sense of sight somewhat.

We agreed that this was most the hipster establishment any of us had ever set foot in. This due in no small part due to the repurposed-bicycle lamp fittings, the large mural of a gorilla donning a zebra coloured pelt (?), alongside all of the gratuitous indoor street art and tags sprayed upon all available walls. As we called for a few pints we fondly remembered the days when street art was reserved exclusively for the streets.

The barman was a friendly and agreeable sort, and the pint he poured was ok, certainly drinkable but there are far superior pints at cheaper prices within the immediate locality. The section of craft brews was quite notable though but we weren’t of that persuasion at the time. Having cursed the individual that ruined our beloved MacTurcail’s and sadistically and aptly titled the new premises ‘Ruin Bar’ we opted not to have a second pint and headed for pastures anew.

Ruin Bar is a hipster’s paradise, which is not exactly our scene. If you’re into that craic you’ll love it. We’re just glad it’s still a pub and not another poxy starbucks.

Remember back in school and there was always one classmate who had it all. Y’know the type – they’d arrive in at the start of the year having rambled 40 seconds down the road from their nearby palace, as you sat exhausted from your 5-mile hike. They’d regale the scores of friends, all gathered round, with wondrous tales from their epic summer in Disneyland – while you tried to extol the virtues of Tramore to anyone cared enough to listen. They’d take their pristine, polythene covered books from a new branded school bag as you wrestled with the wallpaper clad monstrosities in your generic bargain store sack… You get the idea.

Peter’s Pub: Johnson Place

And all in all you never exactly disliked this particular classmate, it’s just that you knew they didn’t appreciate all that they had. Peter’s evokes this same feeling

Peter’s pub sits idyllically along a picturesque vista at the end of South William St. It’s exterior is fairly plain which tallies with its interior which is also without frills giving that it’s another telly-less of the capital’s boozers. On paper, it should be up with the top pubs in town. It isn’t.

The interior of the bar is uncomplicated. White walls offset any darkness of wooden fixtures. The seating is upholstered in an unusual shade of blue. In total it’s not harsh on the eyes, although some of the lads did find the white to be a touch austere and the lighting to be too bright.

Now, the craic! To convey the extent of how craicless this place was upon our visit, one should think of an atmosphere so sterile that you could manufacture pharmaceuticals in it. But not to worry, surely the pint will make up for all these misgivings I hear you wonder. No such luck. Previous readers will know about our grievances when it comes to paying over €5 for a jar of stout, and yes – we’re begrudgingly coming to realise that a 5 quid note just won’t cut it in many central establishments but to pay €5, jaysis 40 for a bitter, almost headless pint is unforgivable.

Peter’s is a tough one to take. If it was a kip one could simply write it off and forget about it. But to see so much potential so fully wasted is almost torturous.