It is a brisk twenty minute walk from Portobello Bridge to the bottom of South Great George’s Street but on your way into town you pass about 30 pubs. They are in order:
The Portobello (33 Sth. Richmond St.)
O’Connell’s (29 Sth. Richmond St.)
The Bernard Shaw (11-12 Sth. Richmond St.)
The Bleeding Horse (24-25 Camden St. Upr.)
Cassidy’s, 42 Camden St. Lwr.)
The Camden Exchange (72 Camden St. Lwr.)
Anseo (18 Camden St. Lwr.)
Devitt’s (78 Camden St. Lwr.)
The Palace (84-87 Camden St. Lwr.)
Flannery’s (6 Camden St. Lwr.)
Ryan’s (92 Camden St. Lwr.)
Whelan’s (25 Wexford St.)
Opium Rooms (26 Wexford St.)
The Jar (31 Wexford St.)
Against The Grain (11 Wexford St.)
The Karma Stone (40 Wexford St.)
The Swan (58 York St.)
J.J. Smyth’s (12 Aungier St.)
Capitol Lounge (1 Aungier St.)
The Long Hall (51 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
Hogan’s (35-37 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
Chelsea Drug Store (25 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
Soder and Ko (64 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
Izakaya (12-13 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
The Globe (11 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
The George (89 Sth. Gt. George’s St.)
There are also a couple of pubs which are no longer open but whose fronts are still very much visible. Murphy’s (30 Sth. Richmond St.) next door to O’Connell’s has been closed for some time. The Aungier House (43 Aungier St) on the corner with Digges Street has been derelict for nearly twenty years. The former Shebeen Chic (4 Sth. Gt. George’s St.) premises is currently empty but no doubt will be taken over by new owners soon.
There’s something for nearly everyone on this stretch. Locals and tourists alike. For the LGBT Community (The George), for one of the best pints of Guinness in the city (The Long Hall), for cheap cocktails (Capitol Lounge), for Blues fans (J.J. Smyth’s), for DIT students (The Karma Stone), fans of craft beer (Against The Grain), techno and house lovers (Opium Rooms), for country folk (Flannery’s), true music heads (Anseo), for the pizza and hipster crowd (The Bernard Shaw) and so on and so on.
However in late 2015, a small pub called Delaney’s and its next door off licence at number 17-18 Aungier Street shut its doors without much fanfare or fuss.
I think it is reasonable to argue that this was one of the last remaining genuine working-class ‘local’ pubs left in this part of the South Inner City.
Only a stone throws away from the the glitz of Fade Street and the shopping district surrounding Grafton Street, Delaney’s was an anachronistic institution for this part of town. It was a pub that did not attempt to compete for the business of tourists or anyone else. By no means was it an unwelcoming bar but it was certainly a local bar for local people with a sizeable number of patrons coming from the nearby York Street flats.
It was a pub that offered cheap pints, a Lotto Draw for the local football club on Mondays, Karaoke on Tuesdays and Bingo on Wednesdays. DJs with names like DJ Gaz and DJ Bubbles played on the weekend. There was a darts table and a poker table. The pub had no website but an active Facebook personal account.
If you’re standing with your back to Central Bank, where would be the nearest pub that would match such a description south of the Liffey? I think you’d have all the way to Townsend Street or Pearse Street in one direction and all the way to Thomas Street in the other.
In just a few months, the pub was closed, renovated and re-opened as an up-market cocktail bar called Bow Lane. Now you can get a Pompelmo (grapefruit vodka cocktail) for €11 or bottles of red wine like a Gagliardo Serre Barolo (2007) for €105.
Online newspaper articles about the opening of the new business are quite interesting. Particularly the kind of language being used.
A piece in the DailyEdge described Delaney’s as a “closed-down pub” and “an unassuming place you’ve probably been walking past for years”. The fact remains that Delaney’s wasn’t a long-term derelict pub, it was only shut for a very short time.
FFT.ie called it the “extensive refurbishment” of an “old rundown unit adding to the ongoing transformation of one of Dublin’s oldest streetscapes”.
Lovin’ Dublin revealed that patrons to the new venue could expect a “authentic inner-city pub experience”. Whatever the hell that means. Before declaring that “oxtail ragú lasagnette, roasted squash fettuccine and slow-cooked rabbit pie” will be on offer. Hmmm.
Their own blurb was a nauseous bit of PR nonsense:
Bow Lane is an authentic, late night cocktail bar that appeals to a cross-section of Dublin society from the gritty underclass of sophisticates to creatives and the party set. Bow Lane has areas that satisfy a want for exclusivity and other areas that create a space for typical Dublin social intercourse.
No. 18 Aungier Street is a terraced, three bay, four-storey building which has been a licensed premises since at least the mid 19th century.
From 1852 to 1890 the lease holder of the business was John Hoyne, a Wine Merchant and Grocer.
On 13 June 1890, Irish Times described the premises as:
old-established, well and favourably known. A retail seven-day, licensed grocery, tea, wine, spirit, and malt drink concerns, unexceptionally situated on one of the greatest and still rising main line streets in Dublin. The establishment has very fine frontage. The exterior and interior are in splendid condition. A depth of 150 feet gives ample room for present genuine trade and further extension as may in future requite for increased business.
In 1892 it was owned by a Joseph C. Reynolds but by 1901, the census shows that it was the hands of Patrick Coughlan from Kilkenny:
The business was put up for sale in 1924 and then again in 1930 when it was was described in The Irish Times (7 June 1930) as a “spacious” premises with “bar fitting, cash desk and show cases … in richly-carved Domingo wood; there is good yard space with beer and bottling stores and excellent lavatory arrangements.”
It went through a slew of names in the 20th century – Patrick Brady’s The Central Bar (1930s), the Central Bar (early 1970s) and The Millhouse Inn (late 1970s).
From about 1980 to 1997, it was known as Gleeson’s. In late 1980s, the bar had been sold for £200,000 to a German businessman Hans Heiss who moved to Ireland with his Irish wife.
In the early 2000s, the pub was known again as The Central Bar before finally setting on Delaney’s.
This was not a extraordinary pub that could boast the best pint of Guinness in the city or a remarkable Victorian interior but it was a genuine neighborhood bar in a part of town that has very few left.
Its closing down and redevelopment (almost) overnight into an expensive, cocktail bar should not go unnoticed.