dfallon will be away for a week or so, publicans may relax.
Nothing like cabin-fever, or January exams.
With minimal effort, I’d roped two friends into having a look at the W.D Hogan photo exhibition in Temple Bar.
“You’ve feck all else to be at” can win the day on occasion, and Simon (Previously mentioned in the now infamous battered Mars Bar pursuit) along with Mícheál, a Maynooth student like myself, were in the mood for a quick trip to town.
Of course, us Dubs, we can’t do much without requiring a pint. Looking at photographs from 1922 can be exhaustive. “Jesus, I’m wrecked. I reckon that was worth a pint.”
Handy enough, because so do I. Simon proposes a local favourite, the Hop House. Mícheál is new enough to this big smoke business and will settle for anywhere with taps. Personally, I fancy the idea of somewhere new to ourselves, and now we’re on the southside- why budge? The Bernard Shaw it is.
Like the earlier-mentioned Hop House, it’s a bit of a late opener is this. 6pm on the dot, and not a moment earlier. 6.30, walking in the door, and the house is still getting ready.
The Bernard Shaw is also known as one of those “freebie centrals” where before you even see the barman you have the last three copies of Totally Dublin, two Connecteds and a handful of freebie zines under your arm. Brilliant for sitting around a Dublin pub table. “That looks good” “Not that Rosanna Davidson one again” “Five stars for that shite?” etc.
Around at the bar, and quick eyes notice the “10 X 10” deal that has made Twisted Pepper so much fun is also available here at The Bernard Shaw. Essentially, for a tenner, you can avail of one of ten booze promotions. Two cocktails, three pints of Social Welfare (or eh…Beamish), three Coronoas, whatever you’re having yourself really. Still, this is a pub review damn it, and pints of (Dublin) plain it is.
€4.50 a pint of Guinness. I’ll admit, it’s not the best priced pint in Dublin (Or on the street, the fantastic J. O’ Connells a stonesthrow up the road serves a near-perfect pint at €4 on the dot) but it is a fine pint none the less. I’m in good company tonight as far as the black stuff goes, so nods of approvement will suffice.
Having had a cheeky ‘quick one before The Bernard Shaw opens’ up in J. O’ Connells (i.e eh… two pints) the rush for the toilet was on.
“The jacks!” says Mícheál, on returning from his visit. “They’re like an art gallery!”.
Sure enough, so they are.
IF NOT YOU- WHO
Eh, my ma…
IF NOT NOW- WHEN
She can do it tomorrow!
Not an inch of the toilets without a marker, biro or key-scrape added. Great character and (that word I hate again…) banter. Every sticker in Dublin I’ve ever stopped for and gone “what the…?” over makes an appearance too. LOOK! It’s that one with a lamp on it for some reason etc.
The barstaff in The Bernard Shaw are among the nicest I’ve met in this city to date. Chatty types, always good. Having worked in a pub, bar-staff ultimately have a job at hand and can’t engage everyone in conversation, but at 6:40PM (when you only opened the door at 6) and things are quiet, you can engage with the punters. When you’re not a regular punter too, it’s always nice.
Out in the (well heated) smoking area, The Bernard Shaw has a pool table. Unusual in a Dublin pub. I think Frank Ryans, which hxci picked out for his pubcrawl, was the last Dublin pub with a pool table I was in. Out here, they also have another DJ box. I can imagine a good night out here. By about half eight (From our eh…one pint 6:30 visit) there is a good enough sized crowd relaxing out here, watching Simon and Mícheál, at the pool. Brilliant.
The 3 for 10 promo is a tempting one.
First of all, we try Moosehead. A Canadian lager, and by no means a regularly cheap one. Mícheál comes back with three bottles, and won’t take a cent for them at first. Great drinking with non-Dubs on one of their first city centre sessions, it’s like the recession never happened.
“It’s nice” Simon says, the man who has experience in the area of Lager I wouldn’t dare question. “It’s the kind bottle you’d order in a restaurant though, rather than find in a pub. Top back shelf of the fancy off licence stuff” He describes it as a dry lager, but overall the review is a good one. Thumbs up.
Before we know it, shots of Jagermeister appear. Devilish stuff. Another tempter from the specials list. For three Guinness drinkers this is gone like an Abrakebabra ad, with full international tastes.
The music is in full swing from the Saoirse Sounds lads, and is exactly my kind of thing, not a million miles removed from JayCaraxs choice cuts this stuff. Fantastic Trojan Records stuff, Ska, some classic dub-reggae, brilliant. A poster suggests this is a regular Wednesday occurrence, making the Bernard Shaw a tempting proposal for future visits.
The last trip to the bar results in three pints of unfaultable Beamish. At €3.50, this is a bargain pint. Well served too, and popular enough we’re told with the regulars. There can’t be that many Cork students in exile up here, they must have turned some of the natives…
Something to fix? Well, the pub has something I LOVE to see in any bar. A sort of ‘community noticeboard’ on route to the jacks. Sadly, it hasn’t been updated in a while, and photos from the launch of Bob Byrnes (very good) Mister Amberduke are still sitting there. I’m sick of nightclubs/pubs tagging me on Facebook, a nice proper board like this is a great thing to see in a pub. As for the jacks themselves, you couldn’t complain. Clean and fine.
For all the talk of the clientele pubs like this attract, it’s (by and large) bollocks to be honest. I could see myself even suggesting this one for an early pint with one of the folks, it has a nice little hiding spot to chat up beyond the bar, a quiet enough ‘front bar’ and the 3 tables by the gallery space are good for a chat too. I think I’ll need to return at a later date and , more importantly, time to be absolutely sure- but on the back of a nice pint, nice staff, nice surroundings and A POOL TABLE I would advise a trip. For a ’5pm, home by 6:30pm’ trip to turn into this was unplanned but most welcome.
I’m exhausted now, reckon that’s worth a pint.