I like McGrattan’s pub on Fitzwilliam Lane off Baggot Street. It’s a quirky place. A labyrinth of side rooms, with pool tables and a smoking area with a fireplace and blankets on offer. I’ve also been at a number of great birthday parties and memorable events upstairs.
But they’ve annoyed me by rebranding their exterior to claim that they first opened in 1798. Bad Bob’s in Temple Bar did something similar a few years back.
Their premises, 76 Fitzwilliam Lane, was originally a motor sheet-metal workshop owned by R. Thomas & Sons in the first half of the 20th century. It was taken over by the National University of Ireland (NUI) graduate club and opened up a social venue called The Graduate Club in 1964.
Conversion cost £5,000 and it turned the ‘panel beating workshop’ into a licensed premises with amenities for bridge, chess as well as a cafeteria and patio garden. Subscription was 3 guineas a year which included membership of the Graduates’ Association.
It functioned as The Graduate Club until 1975 when it was taken over and turned into a nightclub called Barbarella’s.
Ulick O’Connor in Magill magazine reviewed Barbellas in 1978:
(Here) are the most naked girls you can see in Dublin. What holds up the tiny pieces of silk that cover them only an expert in structural engineering can explain. They float along with their tiny trays, indifferent to the gaze of hearty males who have been able to distract their girlfriends’ attention, to steal a look. Then, oh golly! At 12 p.m. a girl plunges into the blue fountain in the centre of the club and writhes around to frothy airs.
Upstairs the food is excellent and the service by two brothers attentive. The chef is also a brother so you have a direct line of communication if you have a complaint, which I have never had. This is a cleverly designed club, which suggests glamour. As you go in there are superb photographs by Louis Curzon of gorgeous girls, to hint at exotic times later on. If you glance overhead you are under a ship’s rigging so it is easy to imagine slipping a way to the Andes blue from the gloom and wet outside .
It was put up for sale in 1983 and rebranded as Alexander’s nightclub for a number of years. The property was sold again in 1988.
In November 1989, it was reopened as a bar and restaurant called McGrattan’s in the Lane.
This is what the exterior of McGrattan’s looked like a couple of years back. All the available evidence suggests that the bar is 28 years old and not the 219 years they claim!
If anyone has any further information to support or debunk the 1798 year of establishment – please leave us a comment.