After Mother Nature tried her best to put us off our stride, and herself and Irish Rail conspired to delay me getting back to Dublin and causing the CHTM pub crawl to kick off a little later than usual, we met at Traitors Gate, well wrapped up against a very chilly Dublin Sunday evening. Traitors Gate as its known colloquially is the archway leading into Stephens Green and is so called because the inscriptions on its underside are the names of the Irishmen who fought and died in WW1, a subject that is still the inspiration for many an argument in Irish households. We had a quick gander at the names while waiting for a new attendee, JBrophy and decided to scarper as soon as he arrived, the cold being the cause; luckily we didn’t have too far to go to our first port of call which was to be Peters Pub, around the back of Stephens Green Shopping Centre. A lovely spot this, I’d been here a few times before when ambling around during the day – When you can get a seat, it’s the business; A pint and a toasted sandwich, I don’t think there’s a better combination. Unfortunately, the place was packed to the rafters with people stopping off for a break from the shopping and bags and big coats meant a tight squeeze for all. Not to be deterred, we took position at the back door and sampled the fare. A nice pint it has to be said but not a fantastic one, and at €4.80 was a little steep. But, no matter, it was grand and warm and the company and banter was good.
With the lack of seats an issue, we didn’t stay long and were soon on our way to our next destination, The Lord Edward just across from Christchurch. A little moment of panic hit when the place looked like it was closed but that subsided quickly when we got around to the front door and it opened like a doorway into a different world, nice and warm with the offer of a tasty scoop at a bargain price of €4. I think we’d all been in here at various stages but I’ve always enjoyed the pint, a touch soft but tasty and much needed. The location of the pub was also a factor, being next to Burdocks was a big deciding factor. We got a few stools inside the door and were joined by another new head in the shape of kbranno, bringing his experience into the mix. A nice pub for a bit of banter this, though I’m not sure how many people were watching the Tenerife game on the telly above our heads. DFallon did comment though, that those among us that are into football drifted into a dreamlike state watching the game, it has that capacity to usurp conversation really. So we snapped out of it, got back to conversation and finished the pints. Out one door we went and in another, as we left for Leo Burdocks for a battered sausage and a scoop of chips.
You don’t get that too often, the free scoop of chips thrown in, but it was much appreciated and needed as we strolled through the cold to our next stop, The Brazen Head, on Lower Bridge Street. They say this is the oldest pub in Dublin and I don’t disagree. It’s a lovely place, one that a few of us had never thought to frequent, it being a little out of the way. Plenty to look at and talk about in here as we supped our pints in the “Robert Emmett” room, with all the signed dollars of visiting tourists and ancient posters on the walls. Again, we went back above the €4.50 mark for the scoop here but I’d say it was worth it- we got some nice seats and bantered back and forth about the man who the room was named after. While his speech from the dock has been repeated a thousand times, his rebellion itself was not so much brave as… a bit mad really. There’s quirks galore in this pub, if only you had the time to explore them, but the one that stands out is the etching on the window halfway up the stairs- A visiting journeyman etched his name, his occupation and the date on the window with his ring; dated at 1796, it was only a couple of years before the rebellion of 1798… I liked this pub but the night was getting on and we still had two stops to go.
For our first foray into the North-side, we headed across to Frank Ryans, Queen Street. I don’t know how I wasn’t in this place before, as although the Frank Ryan who owned this place was of no relation to the one who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the name inspired (as it always does) no end of conversation. I love a pub with an open fire and this place provided us with one, and a pool table, good music, warmth and a more-than-decent pint for €4.30. I think we all liked this place a lot and promised a return. The kitch décor of the place wasn’t too OTT but still seemed a little out of place, as it’s a locals pub and it doesn’t need the boots hanging from the roof or the Ballybofey signpost to make it Irish. If anything, they make it Oirish, and that’s not a good thing. We stayed for a couple here, such was the welcome, good music being played at a low volume, and the quality of the stout. A nice touch was the board with the newspaper clippings over the jacks; without it, I never would have known that Ho-Chi-Min worked as a kitchen porter in London…
So onwards and upwards to the highlight of the night; How could you venture down this part of the city without visiting The Cobblestone Bar in Smithfield Square- What a pub. They say you get the best Trad sessions in Dublin here and they aren’t too far off the mark. Far enough away from town to dissuade the cheesy ‘old sod’ ballad bollocks, the musicians here are top notch. We didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy it, such were the crowds thronged around the music, leaving us in a precarious position beside the front door, and so we headed down into the bowels of the pub, and got a nice spot out of the way. The pint was without a doubt the best of the night, you know when you get a top pint as it satisfies down to the last mouthful, the head stayed creamy and white on each of the pints we had, a joy to behold and far from some of the muck you pick up around the Temple Bar area. I really like this pub, I haven’t been here enough, it’s only a ten minute walk from O’Connell Street but psychologically much further I guess… But, I reckon Sunday nights visit will be the boot up the arse we need to start heading there on a more regular basis. I don’t know how to describe it; this place just feels like a pub is supposed to feel, the hum of conversation and laughter, the musicians in the corner, top barstaff and good craic.
So there you go, part three of the CHTM pubcrawls, and a nice trip across the city it was too. Next months pubs will be chosen by JCarax, and I’m looking forward to it already!
December’s five pubs were:
1. Peter’s Pub, South William Street.
2. The Lord Edward, Christchurch Place.
3. The Brazen Head, Lower Bridge Street.
4. Frank Ryan and Sons, Queen Street.
5. The Cobblestone, King Street North.