Stubborn. I’m very stubborn.
Friends had just left Ireland for excursions abroad, and others have just moved homes. All events worthy of celebration. I hadn’t seen eight full hours of sleep in a few days, and everyone else invited to the crawl was much the same. Still, this is like Christmas mass at this stage. The pub crawl is a sacred thing, and many sore heads were evident at Connolly Station before departure.
I’ve frequently gone past Cleary’s, or the ‘pub under the bridge’ with my father in the car. We’ve both meant to venture in, but never have, perhaps owing to the fact I’d drink a bit nearer to the bus stop (You know what I mean). Like many of the great Dublin boozers, Cleary’s has been in the hands of the one family for generations. On first entering, I’m struck by the interior, a beautiful bar which feels a bit like Ryan’s on Parkgate Street and a handful of others which don’t seem to have aged at the same pace as other pubs in the city. The bar is busy, and seems to have plenty of locals, impressive on a ‘GAA day’ in itself. Thinking we’re screwed for seats, the very likeable barman tells us to pop down the back. A huge lounge is there, most welcoming and plenty of room for an ever-growing group. Soldiers are coming back from the wars of the weekend, slowly dripping in to the group. Sam notes a snap of the Irish Citizen Army on the wall of the bar, always a thumbs up. The pints are perfectly fine, in fact a step above the norm. All in all, I’m off to a flyer.
Or so it seemed.
The Harbour Master really takes you back when you step inside. A beautiful restaurant/bar, the decoration is top class. It is telling that one of our company, who works in design, is impressed by the attention to detail in the presentation of the premises. Everything here looks wonderful, food included. Everything, down to the Guinness.
One of the lads complains of a one-pour pint. I’m ever the optimist however, and proceed to tuck into my own. It dawns on me, and everyone else at the table, that these are rubbish. If you read my pub crawls, or Random Drop Inn’s, you’ll know I’m not in the business of slating pubs. I’ll leave this one by saying on leaving the premises, two or three half full pints littered a table of seven. A disappointing one.
Never mind that, we’re on a boat now.
This is great. Perhaps our most unusual one to date, the MV Cill Airne ship rests on the River Liffey and provides excellent views of NAMA buildings, The Point and the docklands in general. The dreaded price list turned out to be not so scary at all, in fact I was taken aback that a Guinness on board was in the same price range as one in any city centre pub today. We rest on the deck enjoying the views of the city, and lose track of time completely here. In all truth, I could have abandoned the tour (abandon ship seemed weak) here and been content for the night. Alas, crawls don’t work that way.
I don’t doubt they would frown on large groups of lads treating this one as a ‘pub’ as such (It is definitely a restaurant first) but a visit to the MV Cill Airne should be on your agenda. Without sounding my young age, it is…pretty cool?
I move the pub crawl on, in the direction of Pearse Street. The pub I wanted to visit next seems closed, not closed as in “we’re not open yet”, but closed as in “we’re not going to be open again”. panicking, I push on for Cassidy’s on Westmoreland Street.
Cassidy’s seems closed. Not closed as in “we’re not open yet”, but closed as in “we’re not going to be open again”. I think on my feet, and opt for Fitzgeralds on Aston Quay. I’ve never even gone in here to use the toilet, and this is a real gamble. All I know of this pub is that a ‘ghost sign’ now stands out front, from the time this was the Daniel O’ Connell.
Straight away, I cop the sight of t-shirts behind the bar. Normally, this is a bad sign. There are a few exceptions (Kavanagh’s, Mulligan’s) but generally a pub shifting t-shirts is a bit shamrocky for my liking. I’m pleasantly surprised by Fitzgerald’s but, and as The Shins come on the radio I realise I’m doing ok today. Against the odds, this pub crawl is working out.
The smoking area is excellent, I first mistook it for some sort of quiet room, decorated with a few old Guinness murals and with plenty of room for a reasonable crowd, it’s only a tiny drop of rain that makes me look up and realise where we are standing. One of the lads opts for a bowl of soup, always a safe bet, and returns content fifteen minutes later, insisting it was great. With its location, it’s hard to imagine a pub like this having any ‘locals’ as such, but it is a most decent effort. In short, it’s fine. I’m glad it was there today, and I’d probably drop in again.
By now, it is obviously Sunday night. I want to go to a pub that is, at most, six minutes walk away, but people are having none of it. Everyone is hungry, apparently. A flexible fellow, I decide perhaps Madigans on O’ Connell Street will do. There are, as some of you will know, three Madigans within a stones-throw of one another around O’ Connell Street. It remains an ambition of mine to one day do a pub crawl of Dublin that will consist only of visiting pubs called Madigans. I think it will be a nightmare for people to read. This one, is the one with a sizeable snap of Jack Daniels in the window. Up by The Gresham.
Once again, I’ve never been in here. One of my locals, The Hop House, is too close to justify it. I like this one but. The Guinness is great, the bar man a really nice character, and the pub homely, far larger that it appears from outside. It’s one of those pubs you’re at a loss to describe in too much depth, but also would be hard pushed to fault. It’s by no means as exciting as the MV Cill Airne, but it is a nice conclusion to an enjoyable pub crawl.
With that, we were done. Another five down. Another Sunday evening complete, and everyone returned home. Quite the weekend.