Thanks to Darragh Doyle and others, we now know more about the rumoured closing earlier this week of two landmark Dublin 8 pubs – The Lord Edward and Fallon’s.
Both floors of The Lord Edward pub will remain open but the upstairs seafood restaurant is closing its doors after 47 years in business. Fallon’s has recently been sold and may shut temporarily for refurbishment but they’re definitely not closing.
It’s as good a time as any to briefly look at the history of these two pubs.
Perched on the corner of Christchurch Place and Werburgh Place, the Lord Edward is a five-storey over-basement building, once part of a substantial terrace. Built in 1875, the former dwelling house was refurbished and reopened as a public house in 1901 by the Cunniam family. However, it is said that there has been a licenced premises on the site since the late 1600s.
The ground floor lounge bar features gas lighting, a “confession box” snug, a mahogany and granite bar and a selection of antique bar fittings. The first floor cocktail lounge has a traditional beam ceiling and extensive stained glass. It was formerly the Cunniam’s dining room while the rooms above were bedrooms.
We can see from the 1901 census that 1 Werburgh Street was occupied by Thomas Cunniam (40), a “Licensed Grocer”, from Co. Wicklow, his wife Margaret (31) from Dublin and her mother Elizabeth Kenny (60), a “Green Grocer” from Wicklow. They had two children – Hugh (4) and Elizabeth (3) – and employed two Grocer Assistants, a cook and a nurse.
In the 1911 census, it would appear that the same Cunniam family are living in the house but there are some discrepancies in ages and names. Thomas Cunniam (47), a “Licensed Grocer”, from Co. Wicklow is listed along with his wife (now named) Anastasia (38) from Co. Wicklow. They have four sons and two daughters including Hugh (15) and Elizabeth (14) which match. The family employed two Vintners Assistants, a cook and a general servant.
When the famous Red Bank restaurant on D’Olier Street closed in April 1969, the smart-thinking Tom Cunniam poached a lot of the now-jobless staff for his new Lord Edward seafood restaurant which opened in September of that year. Some of the staff that made the switch include chef Eamonn Ingram who trained in the old Russell Hotel and waiter Tom Smith who were both still working in The Lord Edward until 10 years ago at least.
In 1989, the Cunniam family sold the pub to Dublin-born businessman David Lyster and his wife Maureen who still own it today.
So while it’s sad to see the restaurant closing, we’re more pleased that the pub is unaffected.
Fallon’s, otherwise known as The Capstan Bar, has recently changed hands. As a result, the vast majority of the wonderful memorabilia (relating to football, local history etc.) has been removed from the now-bare walls. Staff expect the pub may shut temporarily for refurbishment (hopefully they’ll redo the toilets and little else) but they’re definitely not closing.
On a side note, we believe the Capstan in question refers to the British brand of cigarettes and not the nautical rotating machine.
The premises occupies a prominent corner trading location fronting Dean Street and New Row South opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is a three storey red brick traditional style licensed premises which dates back to 1911 and is presented in its original form with many original features intact.
The history of a public house at 129 The Coombe certainly pre dates the 20th century as the legendary Irish boxer Dan Donnelly (1788 – 1820) was proprietor at one stage. Above the door today as you’re facing the entrance from Dean Street, the year ‘1620’ is written beside the Fallon’s name. Does this refer to when they believe the first pub was opened on the site?
A recent property brochure describes the current premises as having a:
a ground floor bar with porch entrance, mahogany bar and back bar, snug and feature wood burning stove. The upper two floors contain the former residential accommodation which are in need of capital expenditure.
Looking at the house (129 The Commbe) in the 1901 census, we can see that it was occupied by Agnes O’Gara (32), a “Grocer” from Dublin, John Groome (28), a “Grocer’s Manager” from Edenderry, Kingscounty (Offaly) and John O’Kelly (19), a “Grocer’s Assistant” from Monasterevin, Kildare.
Ten years later, the house was no longer a Grocer’s shop but the private home of the Brennan family. Widow Bridget (46) with no occupation from Co. Mayo lived with her sons (both Office Clerks in Dublin Corporation) and two school-age daughters. Two German workers employed as “skin cleaners” (aka skinners) , with very un-German names Paul Powell and William Hank, boarded in the house. They presumably worked in one of the nearby tannery or leather factories.
It’s a wonderful little pub and we sincerely hope the renovation isn’t too drastic.
Any historical information or anecdotes about either pub? As always, please leave a comment.