For anyone just stumbling across CHTM!, once a month the three writers behind this blog, joined by a small group of friends, visit five Dublin pubs and then write about our experiences. A different person each month picks the five pubs and make sure not to give away any details beforehand. The reviews are often as varied as the pubs with the three different writing styles giving three very different narratives.
Before I start talking about the pubs, I’ll mention two things. I can’t let the introduction pass without me contradicting it in some way. When I say we are joined by “a small group of friends,” I mean all previous ones we were joined by a “small group of friends.” This pub crawl somehow managed to draw the attention of over twenty extras. Great fun in that conversation was never lacking, but difficult with regards getting the group from one pub to the next. Still, we managed it, with no punches thrown. Secondly, I don’t know what it is with me, is it age or just the sheer quantity of Guinness consumed since the inception of this blog but these pub crawls are getting harder to write, and my apologies for the gap between the crawl and the review.
Disclaimer: Prices may become inaccurate towards the end. Feel free to correct!
The February pub crawl kicked off, quite amazingly, on Sunday 4th March. As we are readily running out of pubs in the City Centre, I decided to head down towards Smithfield and Stoneybatter for a look. The infamous horse market had not long finished as we made our way into the Dice Bar, on the corner of Queen Street and Benburb Street. Not a spot I’d been in too many times before, rather drunkenly over Christmas and before that, who knows… a long time anyways. A really cool little spot this, a cross between Sin É and the Bernard Shaw or something along those lines. Good tunes, and a good selection of Irish and International beers, ales and stouts. It being the pubcrawl though, the majority of us were on the Guinness and at €4.30 a go, it wasn’t to be faulted. I found it odd to see a television on in the place, given that up until that point, I didn’t think they even had a telly. But, it was a 6 Nations weekend, and there were a few heads tuned in to the game. (France 17 – 17 Ireland if you must know, cheers Google.)
The numbers attending this pubcrawl meant that when some people were finishing pints, others weren’t long through theirs, meaning more than one pint was consumed in most pubs, and the Dice Bar was no exception. Before the end, our crowd had spilled out of the area we were occupying, and the sound barman directed us to another area recently cleared down the other end of the bar. Great music, odd & interesting décor, (was that a flying astronaut in the corner over the jacks door?) good pints and sound barstaff. A win all round.
The next spot I had picked was the recently re-opened McGettigans, but a quick look inside the door told us we wouldn’t be venturing in today, the place was packed to the rafters. With that, we made our way up towards Dublin’s Left Bank, Stoneybatter, and into J. Walsh & Co. on Manor Street. Another spot I’ve been in a few times and one I really like. Luckily, there was plenty of space in here as the numbers were ever swelling and we were starting to draw glances. We managed to get ourselves an area down the back of the pub at the end of the bar, walls adorned with old images of GAA teams past and other sporting memorabilia. The last time I was here was with a friend who, at the time was living down the road from it. We went in for that fatal “one pint” and ended up falling out of the place a few hours later, deciding to treat ourselves to “a pint and a half one” each round: fun times. (A pint and a half one for the un-initiated is a pint of Guinness and a single measure of Jameson.) Definitely a spot for that carry on rather than a rambunctious gathering such as this, we decided to leave the good people of Walsh’s in peace after one here. €4.15 a pint, my favourite pub of the day, and definitely one I’ll be back to.
Not far from Walsh’s was our next spot, Tommy O’Gara’s. Now, it’s been said before on CHTM! by a regular commenter and I didn’t get the reference when he said we should refuse to drink in Tommy O’Gara’s until the photograph of Bertie was removed. Lo and behold, at the end of the bar, there is indeed a shrine to Drumcondra’s favourite son, with a dashing image of him from the days when he had hair. Still, we refused to let that get to us and started into our pints. A contender for pint of the night this, alongside the previous spot, it came in at €4.20 a go. A busy little spot, and in some ways lucky (in others, obviously unlucky!) that our numbers had started to thin out, but not by much thankfully, as otherwise, we never would have fit in where we did, a nod away from the barman’s attention. Initially a little unsure of us as one of our number made the faux pas of bringing a bag of chips in (never bring chips into a pub, the bar staff hate it; trust me,) he quickly warmed to us as we apologised profusely and our orders started to pour in. I can’t say too much about this place, nice, warm, spotless and quiet.
Next up, Kavanagh’s of Aughrim Street. The first pub with a smoking area on the pub crawl this, and the majority of the crew made their way out there. Before this though, a couple of us decided to take a look in the front bar first. A lovely little spot, and everyone, staff and regulars were all very friendly. We must have stuck out like a sore thumb here, as heads were turning, not in a bad way in our direction when anyone new walked in. €4 a pint, and again, not to be faulted, cold and creamy. After a while, we headed to join the rest out the back, on the way realising how deceptively large this place is. The front bar backs onto a large lounge area, and from there, you can make your way out to the smoking area or upstairs, where there is another bar, though this wasn’t open on our visit. The local of choice this for a couple of people on the pub crawl, I could see why they like it so much. Though, this led to a problem in that one pint became two, and two pints became three. Tradition demands pub crawls must be five pubs or more, so with heavy heads, we left Kavanagh’s and made our way around the corner to Hynes’s on Prussia Street.
Ah, Hynes’s; without a doubt, the oddest pub of the day this, if not the oddest pub we’ve ever visited. It was a bit of an afterthought this, making up the numbers to coin a phrase, but I’m glad we popped in. There’s not too many pubs in Dublin you get shushed for talking too loudly, and even fewer, not because your chatter is overly loud, (our numbers had shrunk considerably at this stage, but with some, but not all fallen soldiers replaced by fresh ones,) but because they start calling bingo in Hynes at 10 PM. And it wasn’t all the proverbial “auld ones” with their heads stuck in the bingo books either. I hope the locals can forgive us, it was a long day and we weren’t aware of local tradition. As well as being the first pub in Dublin I’ve seen Bingo being called in, it’s also the first pub I’ve seen An Phoblacht being sold in. Still, I can’t complain, the pint was cracking and a steal at €4 a pop.
So there you go. A little introduction to some of Smithfield and Stoneybatter’s finest. Make you way down that direction, it’s not as far from the city centre as you might think, and pubs are plentiful!