New here? Once a month we visit five Dublin pubs, give them a quick once over, and review them here. Simple.
This pub crawl was made all the better by the fact we’ve decided to attempt to couple all future crawls with a cultural event. We’d met up earlier than usual on the Sunday in question to take in a walking tour of Grangegorman Military Cemetery, and as such were feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves. Pints are great, granted- but they’re always nicer after a day out.
Anyway, this months pubs….
Right opposite the Ha’penny Bridge, I was always amazed by the fact a large premises at the entrance to Merchants Arch was allowed sit vacant for so long. Once an Abrakebabra, and a rowdy one at that, it must be one of those city centre business premises doomed to failure in any guise I thought. Now, with the arrival of the Merchants Arch Bar, maybe all has changed.
This pub is one of those pubs where you have to make your way past a young woman with a menu in hand to get in. In post Celtic Tiger Dublin, it’s a pretty standard fixture with any Temple Bar establishment. While I’ve heard the food here is excellent, I’ve a good feed in me already and besides my student pockets don’t allow it (PRIORITIES), and a round of pints are the height of it. The interior of the pub is beautiful, I’d compare it almost to the downstairs of the nearby Workman’s Club. Minimal and classic. There is no clutter here on the walls, like in the ‘done up’ (read: completely ruined) Eamonn Doran’s only a short distance away. There, it’s all Michael Collins, Shamrocks and the little people.
There is rugby on the telly. I know absolutely nothing about rugby. I know one thing though, this is loud. Just too loud to let conversation flow freely. Despite the bar being quite busy for the time of day, nobody is really watching the game. The pints arrive quickly and are worthy of a thumbs up. All in all, this new venture gets our support and I think I’ll be back. It’s hardly the only pub in Dublin where the telly gets more priority than it maybe should.
I’m delighted to see something good done with this premises, it was a shame to see a building right next to the Ha’penny Bridge rotting away.
We’re off to The Lotts next. This is the pub which famously got behind the Mexicans at the last World Cup, talk about a lucky selection.
The small bar seems to be a locals spot, and the rugby really is drawing a crowd here. We opt for the lounge, and Sam orders a burger and chips. He insists the quality of the food is mentioned in the review. There are some framed boxing gloves around the place, but again the layout is simple and minimal here. I really liked the pint here. I rarely drink in this part of town bar late night visits to the likes of The Twisted Pepper around the corner, but I would be likely to return. The bar staff are friendly, the jacks clean and they even had an offer of a free drink going related to the rugby match for all those in the snug providing someone did something. Did I mention the fact I don’t know anything about rugby?
The Lotts has the look of a bar that has seen a makeover in recent times, very well presented and it seems to be a case of the bar being for regulars and this part of the place for those who, like Sam, fancy a burger and chips. Nothing wrong with that. The ‘proper dinners’ look lovely too, for what it’s worth. At the bar, the standard sight of 2/3 men reading the Sunday papers can be found.
We head off towards Aungier Street and JJ Smyth’s. This pub is well-known for hosting jazz nights upstairs, but we’re here for Sunday pints downstairs. A plaque you’ve probably passed is that in the wall of JJ’s, to mark the place where Thomas Moore was born.
Moore is perhaps best known for his poem ‘The Meeting Of The Waters’.
There is not in this wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet,
Oh! the last rays of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart.
It’s one of the great Dublin ironies, as first pointed out to me by Lorcan Collins of the 1916 walking tours, that the author of ‘The Meeting Of The Waters’ would find his statue in the city next to what was one of the last public toilets in Dublin! Moore always has a placard, beer can or something humourous in his hands, facing towards the old parliament.
I’m going into tour guide mode myself here…back to the pub. It was commented by several of the party that this was the best pint yet on the tour. I’d share the sentiment. It appears to be locals, locals and more locals here, but the barstaff are friendly and welcoming and there is always a thumbs up for barstaff who bring pints down to the table.
The toilets were basic at best, the kind of thing you imagine Michael O’Leary would have installed if he was running a hotel, but overall the pub was one we enjoyed. Jazz music is played here six nights a week apparently, and we may well return to check it out.
From here, we’re going a short distance up the road to The Swan Bar, or John Lynch’s. I’ve always been fascinated by the exterior of this public house, it looks extremely ‘English’ almost and reminds me of a few pubs I distantly remember from a trip to Manchester as a child. Inside, it’s got a beautiful long bar, another feature I love in pubs. It’s pretty quiet when we drop in, but we’ve found this to be common enough now on Sunday evening pub crawls.
Again, it’s a great pint. They’ve got the telly on, and I’m happy enough as I get to see supersaint Keith Fahey lift a trophy for Birmingham F.C. What I like about the pub however is that the telly isn’t blaring away, the volume is low and it’s not interfering with conversation.
Located near to DIT Aungier Street, Wexford Street more often gets a look in for cheeky lunchtime pints with anyone I know studying there. Never mind that, give this place a look.
I like to throw a wildcard pub into my pub crawls. I once brought everyone down to the MV Cill Airne, so we could drink on a boat. For this one, I decided upon a trip to Against The Grain on Wexford Street.
It’s a craft beer pub. Pints of Guinness are off. You can get one, but we’re not going to. Instead, we opt for what you saw in the first image of this post. For €6, you can sample three beers from around the world. We opt for a “lucky dip”, and between 3 of us there are now 9 beers we’ve never tasted before us. It’s an exciting touch to the Sunday affair.
The staff are friendly, and we’re told that every Friday they do a ‘Meet The Brewer’ night, where you can sample a beer for free. To go one better, on a Tuesday, they do a two for ones on dinners. This premises has always been doomed (how many different names have been over the door of 11 Wexford Street?) but we really, really hope Against The Grain is here for the long haul. Diversity, they say, is the spice of life.
With that, we’re done for another month.
Best pint (of plain…) of the crawl: JJ Smyth’s.
Best find: Against The Grain
‘That’s clever’ moment: The boardgames in the corner of Against The Grain. You might stay longer…..
Best use of an old dodgy kebab shop: The Merchants Arch