Once a staple of this here blog, our “monthly” pub crawls have become somewhat sporadic of late. We only managed to fit in five last year, the last taking place all the way back in June, making it 114 pubs that we’ve visited on the crawls alone. Add in another 30 pubs or so that we’ve done on “Random Drop Inns,” I make it that (including the five pubs here) we’ve visited and reviewed 149 pubs in the city.
The back story… for anyone that doesn’t know the story by this stage, once a month or so 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 makes sure not to give away any details beforehand. This month was my turn, and for the first pub crawl of 2013, I decided to drag people out to Ringsend, from where we could make our way back into town, stopping in a couple of spots along the way. I’ve always loved Ringsend; standing on Bridge Street, you’re a fifteen minute walk to Grafton Street and less than that to Sandymount Strand. Perfect.
Meeting the other two and KBranno in town at five, a Leo Burdocks and a taxi in the lashing rain later, we headed over the canal and into The Oarsman. A very busy spot this and my first impression was that… Christ, this place is a relic; but in a good way! The pub doesn’t appear to have changed too much inside or out for donkey’s years. There has been a business on this spot since 1882, and a pub here since the sixties. The original grocers shop became the snug area inside the door (where we were lucky to nab seats, kudos to Paul R for that,) and the pub was extended out the back. A long narrow layout means ordering a pint from the beautiful old wooden bar is awkward enough. The stairs down to the jacks is halfway along it on the right, meaning if the seats at the bar are taken and you’re ordering, chances are you’re blocking someone’s way. Nonetheless, we weren’t left waiting and ended up staying for a couple of pints apiece, at €4.45 a pop. The most expensive pint of the crawl but still, relatively cheap compared to pints closer towards town. A lovely pub this and a place I’ll be back to, if just to try out the food they’ve recently started to serve.
Onwards and upwards, and out into the rain. I had intended our next port of call to be next door, The Hobblers, but it appears that the pub that once stood on the spot has been replaced/ revamped so we decided to give it a miss and cross the road to The Yacht. I’d been warned about this place beforehand; it is TINY and very much a locals joint. Heads turned when we entered, and the lack of seats, coupled with five lads who had obviously never set foot in the place before looking quite awkward made us stick out like a sore thumb; and we got asked if we were Pub Spy.
Luckily we managed to nab a little snug area at the left hand side of the bar, tucked away from the curious eyes of the locals. No animosity, they were all lovely and chatty once they realised we didn’t write for the Sunday World. €4.15 a scoop, and decent enough, four of us on Guinness and one on Carlsberg, there were no complaints. Have I said how tiny the place is? I’d heard rumours of people knocking in here on a Saturday night, and tables and chairs having to be stacked on top of each other to free up room, and you could tell why. Even the jacks were tiny, the toilet door being little more than a bamboo screen. Probably my favourite spot of the night this, best moment of the night anyway going to when a Hanley Centre collector walked in, we forked over our change as charitable types, and when they left, one of the locals walking up with a box saying he was collecting for the “old folks.” And then calling the Hanley Centre “Chancers” when we told him where all our change had gone. Chancers indeed.
Out one door and in another as we paid a visit a couple of doors down to Sally’s Return / The Shipwright. I honestly don’t know what to say about this place other than… It was bedlam. Madness. Nuts. Without a doubt, one of the maddest pubs we’ve visited. Not altogether in a bad way, I quite liked it to be honest. Again, a locals spot, but then, every pub we visited apart from maybe The Oarsman was. Lykke Lee and Gangnam Style both blared over the speakers a couple of times apiece when we were there, leading two of our party (one of whom writes for this Blog, and is not me or Sam) to get up and do “the horse dance.” Not a remark passed, it’s just that kind of place; in fact the barman came down a couple of minutes later with a tray of sandwiches for us. Not too many places we’ve gotten that. A “children must remain seated at all times” sign was blissfully ignored, and toddlers milled around the place to their hearts content. Anyways, €4.10 a pint, and like the others on the crawl, no complaints.
The night was before us, and we had a couple more places to visit before home and sleep. Leaving the comfort of Ringsend, we headed back towards town along Pearse Street, and stopped by the Padraig Pearse for a quick one. Owned by one part of the syndicate that had the infamous Widow Scallans across the road, this pub continues where in the same vein as its predecessor. The cheapest pint of the night this at €4 a go, and another pub none of us had ever been in. Joined here by pub crawl regular Ang, we ordered in the bar area on the right as you come in; this was taken over by a pool table around which locals were taking part in some “friendly competition.” Friendly to us they were too, and happy to include us in the winding up of a bloke who had just made an arse of a shot. We left them to it and headed into the lounge area- plenty of space in here, with only a couple of the tables being taken up. A brief sojourn across the road for a battered sausage and chips (the second chipper of the day) and we headed down to the Windjammer.
The last spot for some of us this, (others ended up in the Czech Inn; yes, it was one of those days,) and a place with a certain attraction for the Bohs fans among us. Keith Buckley, yes, that man we never measured, and who will surely tackle you, is a lounge boy in the place. Unfortunately he wasn’t working, but not long into our visit, and after a few rousing renditions of his song, his Ma, who was sitting over in the corner cottoned on to us and came over to say hello. And then in came the man himself. Embarrassing and amazing in equal measures.
Again, sidetracked. To the pub itself. The Windjammer is an early house, but not a “Chancery” kind of early house; it has a bit of class, and whilst it serves an early pint, be prepared to be scrutinised via a CCTV camera over the door first. No such formalities tonight, as you may have guessed with the aforementioned shenanigans. It has undergone a face lift in the last couple of years, and is spotless inside, a lovely looking pub. €4.35 a pint, and no complaints. We found ourselves a nice spot in the corner at the end of the bar and settled in for a few here. There was live music on when we were there, being lapped up by the locals, and whilst we were sitting right beside the speakers, the music wasn’t being blared out, and we had no hassle talking. In any case, we were in singing mood at that stage. Again, a locals spot, but again, the locals were quick to chat. Another spot I’ll be back to!
So there you have it. Another five pubs covered and we now stand at 149. Its been hard work so far, but with a bit of luck, we’ll struggle on and hit the 150 mark.