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Archive for the ‘Pub Crawls’ Category

As you should know by now, every month this blog organises a pub-crawl. In rotation, a different person chooses the five pubs in advance, picks a meeting point in the city and makes sure not to let any details slip to the rest of the group about what pubs are to be visited.

Sunday, 19th September. 4pm, Love Lane.

Myself, HXCI and veteran JFlood meet up to start our 13th pub crawl.

This time around I chose the area of Beggars Bush and Lower Baggot Street. Firstly, because I worked in the neighborhood over the summer and though I got to know the place well, never set foot in any of its watering holes and secondly, seeing as it was the day of the All Ireland final, I guessed it was far enough away from Croke Park to ensure a pub crawl free of hordes of GAA fans.

Setting off at a few minutes past four, we crossed the historic Mount Street bridge, past No. 25 Northumberland Road, and into the area knows as Beggars Bush. (Yes, it did get its name for being the “traditional assembly-point for country vagrants”)

Our first stop of the afternoon was Jack Ryans of Beggars Bush. The first thing that struck was me was the amount of photographs along the wall opposite the bar. Thankfully they weren’t all the all too frequent mix match of Italia ’90 posters, cliche paddy wackery saying and reproduction sign posts. The photographs, all of the immediate area, showed the changes that had occurred over the last 300 years. That’s what you want to see in a pub. Something original. Something that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. I had read online that there was a picture of American poet John Berryman on the walls as well, who lived in the area and frequented Ryan’s Lounge in the 1960s, but I couldn’t see it myself.

We took our perfectly poured pints from the friendly barman (who said thanks at least three times) and settled down in the lounge. Here, we were joined by DFallon who admitted to taking the scenic route from the Quays to Beggars Bush (via Leeson Street!). At €3.80 a pint, these were the cheapest and quite possibly the best pints we had this pub crawl.

Jack Ryans, Beggars Bush. 2010

Jack Ryans, Beggars Bush. 1962.

After a lengthy discussion on the recently screened James Connolly documentary, we left Jack Ryans and headed down Haddington Road, past the Church bell tower that British snipers used during the Rising, and into Smyths, the less upmarket neighbour of The 51. Smyth’s is a perfectly nice, small pub that proved to be a life-saver as it began to lash rain shortly after we arrived. (It became famous in 1999 for being the first pub in Irish history to be sold online) We were the only ones in the ‘Bar’ side of the pub and enjoyed our window seats. The pints were fine and came to €4.50 each. A price that you’d expect to pay for a pint of Guinness in Dublin city but it was noted that Jack Ryans (The Beggars Bush) which was less than 5 minutes walk away charged 70c less. JFlood, the only smoker of the group, remarked on the large, plastic covered ‘smoking area’ at the back entrance of the bar.

Back entrance to Smyths. Undated.

Onwards and upwards. We slipped down Eastmoreland Lane and took a right, bringing us onto Upper Baggot Street. (I hate backtracking on pub crawls). The Waterloo and Searsons are next door to each other and during my ‘pub crawl homework’, it was a difficult choice on which one to pick. I had never set foot in either. In the end, I chose The Waterloo manly for the fact that Searsons had been recently bought over by the Superpub empire Thomas Reads. I had hoped The Waterloo retained some charm, it was like many other pubs in Dublin in the 1960s, a haunt of Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan.

Today, the Waterloo is a large, ‘trendy’ bar. ‘Souless’ might be a little bit strong, but it’s not far off. The most memorable physical aspect of the place is the towering church-like roof. There was a Christening party well under way upstairs but we managed to get decent enough seats in the empty smoking room. A couple of kids started the classic game of seeing ‘who can run around our table as fast as possible without hurting themselves’. One little boy banged his hand against a table and started crying, he lost. Finishing our average pints (€4.50) and grabbing a handful of free leaflets and magazine on the way out, we made our way back Southside.

Stomach’s were growling at this stage, so we made a pit stop at Beshoff’s on Mespil Road. Here, we were joined by our Corkonian CHTM! pub crawl virgin Mary who was in jolly moods after the Rebel County’s win.

The Waterloo.

Our fourth stop of the evening was Larry Murphy’s on Lower Baggot Street. I expecting more from the place. It was empty, dark and a little bit depressing. No one was particularly happy with their pints (€4.50). The decor wasn’t interesting, the barman wasn’t very friendly and the loud jukebox music didn’t really help sell the place. We were great happy to move off. (That saying the pub does enjoy favourable reviews on Yelp, they all mention “after -work” weekday drinks though)

Larry Murphy's Pub. (Photo - Chris Brearley)

Last but not least was Hartigan’s. I had originally had picked it out for my first pub crawl but like a lot of pubs that day, it was closed. The wooden paneling and general decor was quite nice on the eye. Despite having such strong links with generations of UCD students, I was a bit disappointed about the lack of Earlsfort Terrace memorabilia on the walls. (Former residents of nearby Hatch Hall (UCD student residency) still meet socially in Hartigans pub on the first Wednesday of every calendar month; a social gathering known as “Hatch Wednesday”)

Though Mary was disappointed with the response of the bartender after she asked for her pint of Carlsberg to be changed, nearly everyone agreed that these were the best pints of Guinness (€4.35) of the pub crawl. Close call between Hartigan’s and The Beggars Bush definitely.

Hartigan's

If you ever find yourself in the Beggars Bush area, do drop into Jack Ryans. If you ever get stuck in bad weather on Haddington Road, check out Smyth’s rather than The 51. I wouldn’t go out of my way but if your ever on Lower Baggot Street, The Waterloo is probably your best bet. Avoid Larry Murphy’s unless there’s a big after-work session going on and if you like your Guinness, you could do a lot worse than Hartigan’s.

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Stubborn. I’m very stubborn.

Friends had just left Ireland for excursions abroad, and others have just moved homes. All events worthy of celebration. I hadn’t seen eight full hours of sleep in a few days, and everyone else invited to the crawl was much the same. Still, this is like Christmas mass at this stage. The pub crawl is a sacred thing, and many sore heads were evident at Connolly Station before departure.

Cleary's, credit to thatman1 on Flickr.

I’ve frequently gone past Cleary’s, or the ‘pub under the bridge’ with my father in the car. We’ve both meant to venture in, but never have, perhaps owing to the fact I’d drink a bit nearer to the bus stop (You know what I mean). Like many of the great Dublin boozers, Cleary’s has been in the hands of the one family for generations. On first entering, I’m struck by the interior, a beautiful bar which feels a bit like Ryan’s on Parkgate Street and a handful of others which don’t seem to have aged at the same pace as other pubs in the city. The bar is busy, and seems to have plenty of locals, impressive on a ‘GAA day’ in itself. Thinking we’re screwed for seats, the very likeable barman tells us to pop down the back. A huge lounge is there, most welcoming and plenty of room for an ever-growing group. Soldiers are coming back from the wars of the weekend, slowly dripping in to the group. Sam notes a snap of the Irish Citizen Army on the wall of the bar, always a thumbs up. The pints are perfectly fine, in fact a step above the norm. All in all, I’m off to a flyer.

Or so it seemed.

Harbor Master, credit to flickr user jellyshots

The Harbour Master really takes you back when you step inside. A beautiful restaurant/bar, the decoration is top class. It is telling that one of our company, who works in design, is impressed by the attention to detail in the presentation of the premises. Everything here looks wonderful, food included. Everything, down to the Guinness.

One of the lads complains of a one-pour pint. I’m ever the optimist however, and proceed to tuck into my own. It dawns on me, and everyone else at the table, that these are rubbish. If you read my pub crawls, or Random Drop Inn’s, you’ll know I’m not in the business of slating pubs. I’ll leave this one by saying on leaving the premises, two or three half full pints littered a table of seven. A disappointing one.

Never mind that, we’re on a boat now.

Quay 16, credit to Flickr user infomatique

This is great. Perhaps our most unusual one to date, the MV Cill Airne ship rests on the River Liffey and provides excellent views of NAMA buildings, The Point and the docklands in general. The dreaded price list turned out to be not so scary at all, in fact I was taken aback that a Guinness on board was in the same price range as one in any city centre pub today. We rest on the deck enjoying the views of the city, and lose track of time completely here. In all truth, I could have abandoned the tour (abandon ship seemed weak) here and been content for the night. Alas, crawls don’t work that way.

I don’t doubt they would frown on large groups of lads treating this one as a ‘pub’ as such (It is definitely a restaurant first) but a visit to the MV Cill Airne should be on your agenda. Without sounding my young age, it is…pretty cool?

I move the pub crawl on, in the direction of Pearse Street. The pub I wanted to visit next seems closed, not closed as in “we’re not open yet”, but closed as in “we’re not going to be open again”. panicking, I push on for Cassidy’s on Westmoreland Street.

Cassidy’s seems closed. Not closed as in “we’re not open yet”, but closed as in “we’re not going to be open again”. I think on my feet, and opt for Fitzgeralds on Aston Quay. I’ve never even gone in here to use the toilet, and this is a real gamble. All I know of this pub is that a ‘ghost sign’ now stands out front, from the time this was the Daniel O’ Connell.

Straight away, I cop the sight of t-shirts behind the bar. Normally, this is a bad sign. There are a few exceptions (Kavanagh’s, Mulligan’s) but generally a pub shifting t-shirts is a bit shamrocky for my liking. I’m pleasantly surprised by Fitzgerald’s but, and as The Shins come on the radio I realise I’m doing ok today. Against the odds, this pub crawl is working out.

The smoking area is excellent, I first mistook it for some sort of quiet room, decorated with a few old Guinness murals and with plenty of room for a reasonable crowd, it’s only a tiny drop of rain that makes me look up and realise where we are standing. One of the lads opts for a bowl of soup, always a safe bet, and returns content fifteen minutes later, insisting it was great. With its location, it’s hard to imagine a pub like this having any ‘locals’ as such, but it is a most decent effort. In short, it’s fine. I’m glad it was there today, and I’d probably drop in again.

By now, it is obviously Sunday night. I want to go to a pub that is, at most, six minutes walk away, but people are having none of it. Everyone is hungry, apparently. A flexible fellow, I decide perhaps Madigans on O’ Connell Street will do. There are, as some of you will know, three Madigans within a stones-throw of one another around O’ Connell Street. It remains an ambition of mine to one day do a pub crawl of Dublin that will consist only of visiting pubs called Madigans. I think it will be a nightmare for people to read. This one, is the one with a sizeable snap of Jack Daniels in the window. Up by The Gresham.

Maidgans, credit to flickr user susan crawford. I love this snap actually.

Once again, I’ve never been in here. One of my locals, The Hop House, is too close to justify it. I like this one but. The Guinness is great, the bar man a really nice character, and the pub homely, far larger that it appears from outside. It’s one of those pubs you’re at a loss to describe in too much depth, but also would be hard pushed to fault. It’s by no means as exciting as the MV Cill Airne, but it is a nice conclusion to an enjoyable pub crawl.

With that, we were done. Another five down. Another Sunday evening complete, and everyone returned home. Quite the weekend.

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At a random guess, we’ve covered approximately seventy pubs in Dublin at this stage and we’ve only just scratched the surface. But nonetheless, there is still fight left in us and we’ll struggle on through Pub Crawls and Random Drop-Inns until we can say finally, when anyone asks “Have you been in such-and- such” that yes, we’ve been there because, well, we’ve been everywhere.

So, with our mission in mind, on the last weekend in June and we hit the streets again. The five regulars met up at Molly Malone, but this pub crawl we had a special guest; we were joined by a good comrade World by Storm from Cedar Lounge Revolution. I was on hand to lead the way, and started by covering old ground. Our first spot was one we had crossed on our travels before, but we didn’t stop for a pint last time, such was the “welcome” we got. I’m glad I decided to give the place a second chance, as we were delighted with the welcome and the pint we got this time around. We were, of course, in McDaids of Harry Street. And while the sun shone down on us on this pub crawl, it was back to Guinness for all of us.

McDaids, by Carly Whelan, from Flickr.

A different day, a different barman and a totally different attitude. Whereas last visit, we were made feel so uncomfortable we left without ordering the pints, this time we were more than happy to stick around, the telly was off, there were plenty of stools for us to plonk ourselves down on, and the Guinness seemed to be the regulars choice. All six of us were happy with the fare, and took to nattering away amongst ourselves, inevitably about archaic Irish politics. McDaids was one of the pubs to take part in the Arthurs Day celebrations last year so I chanced my arm and asked the barman if they had any of the “250” beermats lying around. Smart enough, he asked if I was collecting them to flog them on E-bay, obviously I’m not the first person to have asked; but kindly enough, he disappeared down to the basement and brought back up a stack. Nice one. A pub with great history this, one of those pubs to be mentioned in the same breath as Davy Byrnes, O’ Donoghues and the Baggot Inn, a favoured spot of Behan, O’Brien et al. The pint, at €4.65 was not overly extortionate considering we were just off Grafton Street. Definitely glad we gave this place a second chance, we were sorely tempted to stay for a few but we had four more pubs to go through, and plenty of topics of conversation to cover before the end of the night.

The Hairy Lemon, by the fantastic Infomatique, from Flickr.

So onwards and upwards to our next spot, The Hairy Lemon on Stephen Street. I’ve only ever been here once before, and that was to avail of their well reknowned lunches. But the fare was different today, as was the crowd as six fine pints of Guinness were put up in front of us in a pub free of the shirts and ties that were here last time I was.

Named after a notorious and nefarious 1950’s Dublin dog-catcher, the bar is a throw back to old Dublin. It was used as a location in arguably the best film to come out of this city, and one that depicts it best, Roddy Doyles “The Commitments.” And it hasn’t changed a bit since then; not that you’d want it to either. We stationed ourselves at a big kitchen table down the back of the pub in an area I didn’t notice on my last visit. This place was, in a former life, The Pymalion, a pub with a deep history of its own, being home to the punk and metal scene in 1980’s Dublin. We drank at our leisure, and again, the intricacies of political splits and the history of the Irish music scene were covered and recovered by all, with World by Storm chipping in as if he were a pub crawl regular; his insights and knowlege were very welcome! It was hard not to get comfortable here, and I had to remind our comrades that while the pints (Unfortunately steep at €4.80) were tasty, we had further to venture. Tip of the day for this place; all continental beers are €4… Deal.

Hogans, by 1541, from Flickr.

Futher, but thankfully not too far. Bypassing a couple of places in the vicinity, we headed to our next watering hole, Hogans on South Great Georges Street. An odd place this, it tries to strike the balance between old and new school Dublin, like crossing Brendan Behan with Ross O’Carroll Kelly and they do it quite well actually. Walking in the front door (which is actually around the corner on Fade Street, not far from the recently sad-to-be-missed Road Records) you’re met immediately by a long bar, a mere ten foot away from you. You could be forgiven for thinking that thats all there is, until you walk around the corner and find a duplicate of the bar backing onto it, and another huge area behind, with plenty of seating.

We took our place under a Queens Park Rangers calender, definitely out of place but amusing all the same. This place gets mental on Friday and Saturday nights, when the trendy types roll out and it tends to be wall to wall jammers- but Sunday afternoon pints work here too. The pint was well received, at €4.45 it was well presented and for taste was definitely around the 4/5 mark. It’s very rare you’ll get the 5/5 mark (from me anyways.) While I liked this place, we didn’t stay long, gathering ourselves together and heading Northside, for what is only the second time on the pubcrawls if I remember correctly. Shocking stuff really! But, not too far northside- the next port of call was Jack Nealons pub on Capel Street.

Jack Nealons, by Lilyandthejoh, from Flickr.

I love a pub with an open fire, and although there wasn’t one blazing on that Sunday, I made a mental note to drop back in when the harsh winter kicks in and a pint beckons. After a bit of confusion with us looking like we trying to gatecrash a private party upstairs, we eventually got a perch around a high table by the window, under a telly showing sheep dog trials, bizarre enough but enchanting all the same. Cue everyone looking up at me (the only culchie in the place) “how the f*ck does the dog know what way to go?!” With plenty of hyas and whistles. Mad stuff. The pub itself was established in 1905, and caters for a range of clientele- For while the last time I was here, it was a Friday evening and the place was packed with office workers from the area indulging in the bars impressive cocktail menu, Sunday seemed to be a regulars only affair.

We were joined here by veteran pub crawl part timers DMcHugh and ANagle, and the pints were really starting to flow now. Pints of the night here for me, and as such we ended up staying for more than intended. At €4.20, they were a steal. The place really had a nice feel to it as the evening outside started to dim and time had come for us to depart again and head for our last stop, The Bachelor Inn on Bachelors walk.

The Bachelor Inn, by ClarkeC_99_88, from Flickr.

The Bachelor Inn is what you would call an institution in itself. There are some pubs in the city centre, like Neds on Townsend Street, or Molloys on Talbot Street that seem like they’ve been there for ever. The Bachelor Inn joins those; certainly a regulars bar, but not one ready to turn away eight pint hungry bloggers. The barstaff in the place are top notch- it was getting on by the time we got there, a bit like ourselves to be honest. There was no such thing as just the one or two in here, there were several return trips to the bar. And the best thing about the place? Hitting the magical hour where if drinkers aren’t out of the pubs, they turn into pumpkins, or get their names taken by over- zealous Gardai, the barman made his way up to the back of the pub to ask if we would care to indulge in another beverage. What a man. Of course, the answer was a resounding yes from all concerned. I’d be lying if I said I remember how the night went after that, but before I got to the stage where my memory went out the window, I made up my mind that I liked the Bachelor Inn very much. Deceptively large, it stretches way back towards the Bachelors Lotts behind it. A nice, clean and well run pub too, with plenty of seating up the back. There was a nice buzz about the place too, with plenty of buzz and laughter which, for a fairly tight regulars bar, didn’t quieten down when us shower entered! €4.40 a pint and no complaints, they do a regulars card, for… regulars, and possession of one of these grants you the honour of getting pints for a bargain €4. One to remember!

Right. So five more pubs down, and many more to go. A big shout out to World by Storm, and as ever, our other regulars DFlood, Hammy, ANagle and DMcHugh. We’ll be back soon, and if I remember correctly, pints are on Sam. Nice one.

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Bit busier than this these days.

A bit unlike any other pub I’ve visited over the course of this experiment, in that you’re normally out the door when you’re spotted with cans (not that Come Here To Me engage in that sort of carry-out carry on.) Here, they’re on sale, and students are lashing into the Bavaria like it’s going out of style. In this heat, I’m going for the Bulmers, so I’ll order a pint.

Steep enough. Our maybe it’s not, my own Student Union pub in Maynooth don’t sell cans, so the booze flows cheaply. I suppose they’re balancing the books here. Lesson learned, and I’ll transfer over to the cans with the masses of pretend TCD students from here on in.

The staff are friendly and have their wits about them, amazing owing to the mix of intense heat (by eh, ‘Irish standards’) and a line of students longer than any library will ever see.

Ernie O’ Malley wrote about Trinners in his excellent, highly entertaining ‘On Another Man’s Wound’

Trinity had been founded by Queen Elizabeth, and had been built and maintained mainly on confiscated Irish lands. Its tone had always been anti-Irish, arrogantly pro-British, and it had always linked itself to Dublin Castle. The students all wore their college ties, black and red, carried themselves with a swagger and seemed very pleased with life in general.

Harsh.

By pure chance, I end up in the company of a few friends on the green outside, and we sit in the sun, drinking away from the cricket pitch (Them’s the rules…) and discussing that very book.

There’s little you wouldn’t discuss out here, with the sun beating down on you and the booze cheap, it’s a perfect summer evening. Inside, ‘The Pav’ seems to have changed since my last visit, and it’s looking very well. The Sports Bar of the campus, the benches by the doors to the bar go quickly on a nice day. ‘The football’ was on the telly inside, fair enough with the whole Sports Bar thing really. The profits of the pub go back into the sports facilities apparently, meaning you really should buy your cans from the bar and not do a cheeky one. In fairness, it’s one of the only spots in Dublin you’ll get away with drinking cans.

Sit out in the sun , grab a can and watch The Topshop’s go by.

What would Ernie think of us?

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This graveyard hides a million secrets.
And the trees know more than they can tell.
The ghosts of the saints and scholars will haunt you
In Heaven and in Hell.

We’re fresh out of the brand new Museum at Glasnevin Cemetery, and much has been learned. It’s great, if you’re wondering.

The history of Glasnevin Cemetery is well known. It is, in popular Irish history, associated with many legends and great figures. Yet there is more to the place than that, there is also the history of ordinary people and communities. In fact, for all the talk of ‘The Liberator’, liberation struggles and more besides, it is perhaps the audio interviews with gravediggers who worked at the cemetery that was most captivating. Suitably enough, the interview was conducted over a pint in the Gravediggers pub next door.

I’d only done the excellent walking tour of the graveyard recently, and not having seen my mate in a while we decided a pint was in order. The timeless, tellyless (Publicans, take note) Gravediggers on the edge of the cemetery is one of my favourite boozers in Dublin, but you can’t ‘Randomly Drop Inn’ twice, now can you?

So, where to?

We settle for The Porterhouse. This decision is largely based on the reputation of their Chocolate Stout.

“No Chocolate Stout lads, not doing that anymore”

Hmm, bad start. I opt for the Plain (a pint of Plain, clever that) stout, and the mate goes for Oyster stout. Food is ordered, seats are taken, and we have a look around. The premises is large and spacious, the music not too loud (bit of Smokey Robinson going on…), and the food arrives quick. No food for me, but the reports were good. I’ve heard great things about the Irish Stew, but who am I to spend money when there’s dinner at home. Students, we’re like that.

The pint of Plain? Not quite your only man, but still a damn good light stout and I’m content. I’ve tried the Oyster stout before too and while it takes some getting used to, it’s a grower. As they’re quick and proud to tell you, these are award winners, and unlike in some Dublin pubs with the more famous stout on offer, you can rest assured each pint will be right here.

The smoking area is sizeable, but I’m not one to stand around smoking areas. It’s large, it’s covered and it’s heated. Three boxes ticked if you’re that way inclined. The staff are friendly and talkative, and seem to be engaged with what sound like regulars. My friend picks up on the menu in front of us, which boasts that “Our beer kills fascists”. Not entirely sure what they’re getting at there, but why the hell not.

The place is quiet enough, though it is 4.30 on a Wednesday. A few large screens around the place and the variety of both booze and grub makes me think this wouldn’t be a bad spot to catch a bit of the World Cup.

The Porterhouse, for what it does, isn’t too pricey. It’s worth a venture to any of the Dublin pubs to try something new, but be warned that the two city centre pubs are tourist hubs at the minute. A worthwhile visit, with a ‘we’ll only be 10 minutes’ trip turning into an hour out of nowhere.

On our way out, we pass a Christmas tree of beer bottles.

Bit late for that, or are they just early?

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I reckon I should open this piece with a bit of an apology.

Up until this point, whether on pub crawls or Random Drop Inns,  we’ve stuck with pints of plain. We have, article by article, gone some way towards drinking a pint of it in every pub in the city. But we just could not touch a drop of the stuff the day of the crawl, which turned out to be the hottest day of the year in Dublin City Centre; what else could make that day any better only an ice cold pint of cider and a nice perch outside.

This turned out to be the deciding factor in us hitting eight rather than the regular five pubs- not that any of us minded of course, it turned out to be a great day, with a couple of minor irks rather than anything majorly wrong with any of the places we visited. It does leave us with the problem though; How can you judge how good or bad a pint of cider is? Is it cold? Check. Wet? Check. Taste like apples? Check. Every pint is a winner.

The Bull and Castle. By Nathan A, from Flickr

So… Waiting for an exam-laden DFallon to turn up at Christchurch, we ventured into The Bull & Castle on Lord Edward Street. I’ve often passed this place by in favour of its lesser frequented neighbour, The Lord Edward as I’d assumed this Gastro-Pub effort would scorn on people like ourselves looking only for a cold drink and solace from the sun. Thankfully not as the barman dispensed with ciders and beers without a qualm. I’ll be honest and say I was a bit dazzled at first- the pub is quite dark inside, and with a cloudless sky outside, it made it difficult to work out what was what behind the bar. They have a wide range of beers, only to be matched by the Porterhouse I reckon, but none of us was brave enough to venture a try. Nice pub inside, a bit of an olde-worldy feel to it. Very clean also, a must obviously with the place doing a fine trade in grub. But the best thing about the place was the bench outside. I’ve remarked a couple of times this week, and I don’t think I’m off the mark. Dublin in the sun has to be one of the best places on the planet. So perched on a bench, not far away from where the vikings made their mark on this city, with a pint of (relatively expensive at €4.80) cider in hand and the world passing by, I’d have happily stayed there for the evening.

The Legal Eagle. By Infomatique, from Flickr.

But with the arrival of DFallon, we reluctantly gave up our spot and headed across the Liffey to The Legal Eagle, on Chancery Place. Now this pub was a pleasure for a reason- Half Price Sundays! From when doors open at 12:30 on Sunday morning to when they close at an unusual 10pm, everything in the pub sells at half price. This meant an unbeatable €2.20 for a pint, and should we have wanted it, a carvery dinner for €5.50. DFallon tried the Guinness here and said it wasn’t to be faulted but would be following suit in joining us on beer or cider at the next stop such was the heat. The bar was busy enough, I reckon the cheap booze the draw for many. For while it was a nice place, it didn’t set the heart racing and you couldn’t imagine getting comfortable on the hard benches and seats, provided for a quick turnover of diners rather than a slow swell of drinkers- problematic of a lot of pubs selling lunches.

O'Sheas Merchant. By Gianluca 61, from Flickr.

So with that, we upped and out the door, we had miles to go before we slept tonight. Back across the Liffey and into O’Sheas Merchant, on Lower Bridge Street. Cracking pub this. DFallon had been here on a session before, said the doors were closed pretty early and getting out them was prohibited unless you sang a song. Now thats the kind of place I like. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic pub, falling somewhere in between an “old man” spot and a tourist joint. Pint bottles here rather than pints, and a reeling out of the “and its still a pint” line. Images of one of dFallons heroes, Seamus Ennis, adorned the wall, and a member of an Garda Siochana propped up the bar. Off duty of course. A nice pub indeed, one to think about if we’re down this neck of the woods again. We didn’t stick around long here, for while it was nice, the formica tables and blaring telly with the Simpsons on didn’t exactly add to the charisma of the place. Maybe they turn the telly off for the sing- song at seven o’clock or something…

Pifko, from their official site.

So with a few nudges and giggles we made our way to the next spot, Pifko on Ushers’ Quay. This is an odd one. We’ve never been in a pub in Dublin where we were the only Irish people in the place but this was the case with PiFko. Primarily a Czech bar, the place was full of Slovakians watching the Ice Hockey World Cup. We weren’t mad on their “all tables must be reserved” rule; even though there were a number of empty tables, we were forced to stand under the telly. I actually liked the place apart from that, it was a bit of a laugh cheering when Slovakia scored, the whole place went mad. Nice cold pints of Paulaner, cheap at €4. Lovely. Funny looks from everyone else in the pub when we started singing Olé Olé Olé, not so. Was mad to try out the “Beaked Pork Lion” on the menu though. Being made stand while tables sat empty did nothing to entice us to stay so we made our way up to The Liberties and into a pub I’ve passed a million times, The Clock, Thomas Street.

The Clock. By dmckenna, from Flickr.

Not imposing looking from the outside, the place is pretty huge when you walk in, nicely decorated and well laid out. The punters were glued to the box, with “Reeling in the Years” on. As we reached the bar, Packie Bonners save against Romania in Italia 90 (Brilliantly portrayed in this clip from the Van) was on. myself and DFallon were only too delighted, I’ll never get sick of seeing it; The nerves, the save, and those stupid jumps he does afterwards. Pity about his Fianna Fáil connections, he used to be a hero to me! Anyways, we headed out the back to the most unusual smoking area I’ve ever been in. Well it wasn’t the smoking area itself, rather than what inhabited the smoking area- a huge cage containing around fifty twittering and cheeping birds of all shapes and sizes- canaries, budgies, cockateels, even a guinea fowl legging it around in the bottom. Mad stuff. Nice boozer, €4.60 a pint, not to be faulted.

1850's (?) Thomas Street. From Archiseek.

Nows around where it starts to get hazy. Lucky we didn’t have far to go,  only to Bakers of Thomas Street, just across the road. The three pubs we hit around the Liberties all came across as being very much locals spots. It doesn’t help that when we come to these places, more often than not, its only for one or two pints and because of that, its hard to get a proper feel, and a proper welcome from the locals. I liked this place, though Britains Got Talent made it feel less authentic than it might. Again, €4.60 a pint (cold, wet- check) what more could you ask for. A nice pub inside, with low seating, and aging memorabilia adorning the walls. Whilst most of it had seen better times, it kept us interested and deep in discussion.  Onwards drunken soldiers.

Tom Kennedys. Again from the excellent Archiseek.

Tom Kennedys of Thomas Street, right across the road from the Thomas House. What can you say about this place only it was truly terrifying. The walk to the jacks was a scary one, not because the punters were in any way threatening but because Sunday night in Kennedys is Karaoke night. And the MC took a liking to one of our crew, and kept demanding that she come up and sing! Not tonight mate… Again, a locals joint in every sense of the word, the woman behind the bar had the pints on before the locals got to the bar, that sort of place.  The place you might get looks of beleagured astonishment for sitting in “Shielas seat.” Lucky enough, we were well mannered, drank our fill and headed off. I think the pints were €4.50 here, I really need to write them down as I’m doing them. This was JFloods pubcrawl though, so I wasn’t expecting to be doing the write up!

My home away from home... Brogans Bar. By Ester Moliné, from Flickr.

The night could have ended here, but no- We had one more stop to make; Brogans on Dame Street. I really don’t want to write too much about this place because for personal reasons, its my favourite pub in Dublin. Its as close to a local as I’ll get, and is oft frequented by a large crew of my mates. Theres no particular reason its my favourite pub in Dublin, apart from some stories I could tell that you wouldn’t believe. One of the only pubs I can walk into on my own, sit at the bar on my own, order a pint and not feel like a loner/ escaped mental patient/ alcoholic/ all three combined on my own. It really is a scrap between here and Mulligans for the best pint in Dublin, and when I’m drinking it, the Guinness rings in at €4.30. I can’t describe it, just go for a drink here on a sunny afternoon and you’ll see its allure. I’ll stop now!

Right. The hardest write up I’ve ever done, what with a million things coming up between the event itself and me getting a chance to write it up. But it was a great day, amongst the best of the pub crawls we’ve done. Major kudos goes to JFlood for the choices, and to Hammy and Bookie for coming along. Next pints are on me, Sunday fortnight. Give us a shout!

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As much as I love this pub, I must love reading reviews of this pub even more.

It’s amazing how much people, especially younger people, can seem taken aback by the place.

The Porterhouse she ain’t. The taps when you walk in are a no nonsense affair. Not quite Henry Ford and the famous “..any colour you want as long as it’s black” comment, but not a million miles off. Let’s be honest, for ninety percent of the punters here at any given time, it’s black.

Yet , there is quite a bit more to a pub like this than the pints. Colm Tóibín was on the money when he stated that, when it came to Dublin pubs, “There are four or five that have survived the ravages of new money”

When a pub remains in the hands of one family for so long, as this one has, tradition becomes so firmly implanted in the place you’d need to knock it down and build some dire three floor disco-pub to undo it at this stage.

Glasnevin Cemetery is the rowdy next door neighbour to the quiet, content Kavanagh’s.

In any other community, the cemetery and pub might be the other way around. Still, only a stones-throw (literally) from the front door of this pub, you have the burial place of over one million individuals. Frank Ryan and Eoin O’ Duffy, Jim Larkin and William Martin Murphy, Cathal Brugha and Kevin O’ Higgins- all together. Not to mention a Big Fella and a Long Fellow.

1891, Parnell is laid to rest in Glasnevin.

Only recently on the fantastic Glasnevin Cemetery Tour did I fully stop and appreciate the surreal nature of the manner in which old and bitter Irish conflicts are at rest there. A pub can not grow up on the edge of such an amazing place and not be shaped by it.

Stories, legends or otherwise, have spread. The best is surely that of the Cemetery staff in years long past arriving to find a number of coffins sitting outside the pub, as opposed to inside the gates. I don’t doubt such tales for a second. A pub on the edge of a graveyard is, to me, akin to a fireworks factory beside an incinerator.

So, the place naturally has character in excess. If this was in the city centre, you wouldn’t be able to see for all the flashing photographty you’d no doubt have to put up with from tourists. Swinging doors, a true staple of a sort of Irish pub long gone, make you long for something you never knew in reality and could only read about. The pub is authentically old. There are publicans all over the island battering tables with objects to make them look old (Well, not literally…I hope) to create some sort of old ‘Oirish’ pub experience. You can’t create it but, especially not when you’ve put 5 widescreen televisions into your pub and half your customers are only there to watch Manchester United.

There isn’t a telly in sight here. Nor can you hear a Lady Gaga song, or any song for that matter. It’s a reflection on the punters and regulars that the sound of chat and laughter is enough to carry the day in a pub like this. Some pubs probably need the television sets to be honest. I’ve been in pubs where silence would be the only thing worse than the music selection on offer.

While O’Donoghues and a few other gems have sadly succumbed to the suits and faster pace of a new Dublin, a new faster paced Dublin has to slow down when it enters Kavanagh’s. Let us hope a few more generations will rise to the challenge of running the place. It’s in good hands.

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As you probably know by now, every month this blog organises a pub-crawl. In rotation, a different person chooses the five pubs in advance, picks a meeting point in the city and makes sure not to let any details slip to the rest of the group about what pubs are to be visited.

April was my turn and I chose the area of Portobello.

I set the meeting point for the corner of Harcourt Street and Stephens Green. This was once the site of Little’s Pub, now the Stephens Green Hotel, which was taken over by members of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) during Easter Week 1916.

This location was also chosen to confuse people on the route we were going to be taking that day. We could of easily headed off towards the direction of Wexford St, Leeson St. or back towards Grafton St. One of the joys of these pub-crawls, in my mind, is having no idea where your ‘tour guide’ for the day is going to bring you.

Dfallon and Hxci were on time as usual, with CHTM! crawl regular JFlood only a couple of minutes late.

I led them up Harcourt St., stopping briefly to point out Edward Carson’s birthplace, and through Camden Place where we spotted this little letterbox. I crossed the road at Camden Street in order to point out the (mostly) hidden plaque at No. 34 where Na Fianna Éireann were founded in 1909. The plaque can be only been if you face the building from the opposite side of the road.

Our first stop was Cassidy’s. I was surprised to see the place so busy on a sunny Sunday afternoon. There were a number of families and punters dotted around the long, narrow bar. It is hard to talk about Cassidy’s without mentioning that it was a stopping point of Bill Clinton in December 1995 where he was photographed enjoying a pint of Murphy’s Irish Stout. Apparently, the Cassidy’s are ‘distant cousins’ to the Clintons. We were able to get the best seats in the house, by the window immediately on the left when you enter. The pints, were as far as I can remember, perfectly fine. In truth, we didn’t explore the pub or stay long enough to get a real feel out of the place. But I liked what I saw. Especially the prime spot, where we sat at the window, perfect for people watching.

Not an amazing bar but a lovely one none on the less. Definitely one to pop into if your ever going to try The Camden Crawl.

Cassidy's on Camden St. Not to be confused with the pub of the same name on Westmoreland St.

We only had to cross the road for our next stop. The historic, imposing Bleeding Horse. When we walked in, the place was blaring from the sound of the premiership. Far too loud to warrant the little amount of people in the bar. Usually thronged with after work types on the weekday, the immense pub seemed ghostly empty at this time on a Sunday. We were able to find two lovely sets of tables at the very back of the bar by the window. (For me, this pub-crawl was characterised by the great seats we got in every pub). The pints were lovely and it was nice to have our numbers boosted as we were joined by recent CHTM! pub crawl enthusiast Angela and veteran Hamada.

The Bleeding Horse, 1950s.

The Bleeding Horse dates back to 1649 and claims to be the second oldest pub in Dublin. There are many stories on how the tavern got its name. The most frequent one told is that during The Battle of Rathmines (1649), Cromwellian forces brought their wounded horses to the thatched, timber inn that stood here.

The Bleeding Horse, 1972. (It renamed 'The Falcon Lounge' for a time in the 1970s) Photo credit - Hohenloh

The Irish Times, surprisingly, does not wield many interesting stories relating to the pub. The only one that stood out was that Countess Markievicz presided over a Republican meeting in the premises in September 1923 at which Madeleine Ffrench-Mullen and Helena Maloney spoke.

The Bleeding Horse as it looks today. Photo credit - Ingawh

Across Kelly’s Corner, we swung by the renowned Bretzel Bakery and up to The Lower Deck, known locally as “Ryan’s of The Harbour”. There’s been a tavern on this site since the 1830s. Though I’ve spent many evenings down in the basement at various gigs during 2007-8, I don’t think I’d ever properly been upstairs. We managed (again) to get great seats by the window beneath the array of GAA merchandise.

The Lower Deck, 1960s (?) then called 'Ryan's Bar'.

The pints were grand and the barman friendly. My only complaint was the eager, acoustic cover singer who was playing far too loud at such an early time of the evening in the middle of the bar. We finished our pints up quicker than usual because we could barely hear ourselves chat.

The Lower Deck as it looks today. Photo credit - Kelly T.

Moving on, we crossed the road and into The Portobello. I had thought that this pub had completely gone down the tacky tourist route but I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely, wooden interior and lack of ‘paddy tourist’ vibes in the place. (The bartender said that the first half of the pub has barely been altered since the Easter 1916 Rising when the ICA occupied the premises then called Davy’s).

Davy's, early 1900s (?). It is now a bar and hotel called The Portobello.

We took seats in the middle of the premises beside an unusually placed vending machine. On the other side of us, a large trad session had begun involving up to a dozen people. The pints were again grand (I should of really taken notes during the night). A nice pub, full of history, but I’m not sure if I’d feel the need to come back anytime soon. The fact that there’s an over 30s disco called Rain attached to the pub isn’t a real selling point for me personally.

The Portobello as it looks today. As you can see, there's been little structural change to the front of the pub.

Stomachs were grumbling at this stage so we dropped into the quality Aprile (Est. 1969) chipper on the corner opposite The George Bernard Shaw. A feed of chips by the canal hit the spot nicely. Here, we were joined by our red-haired Italian friend Julian, in a jolly mood due to a Roma win, who had missed the last few pub crawls.

Next up was O’Connell’s on Richmond Street. This was my ‘pièce de résistance’. I for one had never set foot in the place before and I was pleased to hear that no one else besides DFallon had. This is what makes our pub crawls. Being brought into areas of the city and pubs that you’d never usually venture into. Definitely one of the few bars in the city that you’d have to point out to someone. It’s not loud. No neon lights, flags or banners outside. Deceptively small from the outside, the bar was unusually put together with various seats of different sizes all over. A little corner on your left as you go in, a thin row of seats directly opposite the bar and a whole separate section, slightly raised at the very back. We ordered our pints off the pleasant proprietress and settled in for the night. At €4 for a pint of Guinness, they were definitely the bargain of the evening.

J. O'Connell's on Richmond Street.

All in all, I thought it was a success. Certainly compared to my last effort, which saw three of my five pubs closed.

I might find myself back in Cassidy’s soon with a newspaper in hand, ready for an afternoon of people watching if I see that those seats are empty or The Bleeding Horse to watch ‘the football’ (there’s even a TV in the beer garden!) or indeed O’Connell’s for an (agreeably cheap) Guinness filled session.

Though you might not find me there, if GAA is your interest, check out The Lower Deck and if it’s Trad music, The Portobello might be your place.

Next up is JFlood who will be escorting us around the city at the end of May.

April’s five pubs were:

1. Cassidy’s, 42 Lower Camden Street.
2. The Bleeding Horse, 24 Upper Camden Street.
3. The Lower Deck, 1 Portobello Harbour.
4. The Portobello, 33 South Richmond Street.
5. J. O’Connell’s, 29 South Richmond Street.

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So, the calendar timing of these things is getting a little looser, I confess. It doesn’t seem too long since the last one to me (Or my wallet) but the Sunday after Saint Patrick’s Day was set for my second pubcrawl. A bad week for the ATM.

On my first pub crawl, of pubs six to ten, they were all a bit pretty. Davy Byrnes? A great, famous pub ideal for a ‘Sunday lunch and a pint’ combination. Doheny and Nesbitts? You might catch your local T.D at the counter. Lovely pubs, guidebook pubs, polished and presented pubs.

Trips over the Liffey have been rare. Limited to one pub crawl before this, (with visits to Frank Ryan’s and The Cobblestone) that side of town hasn’t really got a look in. This pubcrawl, for that very reason, was a Northside only one.

The Celt, Talbot Street. Photo by flickr user sandraarrell

The Celt, on Talbot Street, is a funny one.

I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it there before in all truth. Pointed out by a friend (The recurring Come Here To Me character, Simon) who had a good night there before, it seemed worth the gamble. This pubcrawl had a few new additions among the faces present, and Oisin and Alan made first time appearances with us here, adding to the usual suspects. A handful of us had been here before, others had not. Great mix.

To the right of the bar, I spot a large, framed picture of Michael Collins. Not unusual in any Irish pub.

What is unusual, is that to the left of Collins, there’s a picture of Liam Lynch, a leading figure in the Anti Treaty movement. Clever barman that, you’ll never lose on both sides of a fence!

The pints (Guinness, naturally. At €4.40 a pint. General agreement they’re good pints too) arrive and we take a seat behind the musicians. This pub boasts of its live music across the week, and it was nice to walk in somewhere at half five on a Sunday evening and hear it, relaxed and in the corner. The playlist was a bit random, with the musicians going from Neil Young covers to whipping out Tin Whistles, but all in all I’m a fan of live music in pubs providing it’s in any way half decent.

Between songs I pick up on a funny sound and can’t quite gather what it is. Two budgies, in a cage by the bar. Why the fuck not, really. The pub is nicely decorated with some interesting odds and ends, and the stone slabbed floor and fireplace add to the places character. It is pointed out by two of the lads that The Celt does good food too, but it’s a bit early for that. Kebabs await later, more likely.

So, we leave The Celt (and a friendly barman, thanking us for dropping the glasses back up to the bar. Something I’ve always done without thinking) and take off on the long walk towards Croke Park. So far, our Northside day out is going swimmingly.

the Red Parrot, Dorset Street. Photo by flickr user xtopalopagueti

The Red Parrot is up next. No, no, no trip to Fagans today. I’ve no doubt people expected it on the walk up Dorset Street, but I’ve different plans today. This is a locals pub in as much a sense as any pub can be. Walking in the door to the bar, the place is a mix of old and young faces (Some very young, scoffing crisps into themselves) and the atmosphere is very much laid back.

The pint, at €4, is a bargain. I can’t spot anyone drinking anything else (Bar the prior mentioned crisp scoffers, who are on the fizzies, duh) which is always a good sign.

The pub is just that. It is a pub. It has tables. It has chairs. It has pints. It won’t blow you away, but it does its job and people obviously enjoy coming here. The place is clean, there is no rubbish blaring music or annoyances, and the regulars are happy enough and don’t seem to mind day trippers either. One of few pubs in the area that doesn’t seem to be too much of a ‘Croke Park Pub’ image wise. Thumbs up.

Right across the road from The Red Parrot, is Patrick McGraths.

I have learned from this pubcrawl to ALWAYS carry a camera, as McGraths would prove the first internet image search nightmare to date. The yellow one. On the corner. This snap is by flickr user tarts larue

This pub was greatly enlarged a few years back, and I can see it being a busy one on match days. Apparently the place is unrecognisable from its previous incarnation in some ways, and I’m fond of this one pretty soon after walking in the door. A sliding door seperates the bar from the lounge, and the place is enjoying the custom of four or five similar sized groups to our own, as well as a few heads along the bar. It’s all moving very slowly here, and it’s a quiet pub too. A good thing, on a Sunday evening.

The pints? You’re here for the pints afterall.

Fine. So fine, that while on paper the crawl is always a ‘1 pub, 1 pint’ thing, seconds are ordered here.A good bit of time is spent here, in a pub everyone finds most agreeable. Is there much going on on the walls? Not really, no. The decoration is minimal. Still, the lighting, seating arrangements etc. create a lovely atmosphere. I believe the pints were around €4.50, sadly the order was a mess of crisps, Pringles and whatever you’re having yourself. This was probably my favourite pint of the day.

Still, there’s work at hand. Time to move on. Up the road to the ATM (Jesus, the ATM) and on again. We’re now joined by Angela, who joins a tiny, tiny band of ‘women who have gone on a Come Here To Me pubcrawl’

We do invite them, honestly.

While W.J Kavanaghs seems to be hiding from Google, Yahoo, Flickr and everywhere else, just look out for the bottle of this (surprisingly half decent) whiskey in the window of the Dorset Street boozer. Tacky as it comes.

It’s W.J Kavanaghs time. Purely on a hunch this one was picked. I’d heard it was one of the best pubs on Dorset Street, and it is well known for a good breakfast (Bit late in the day…)

There’s a pub in the area that proudly boasts of being a ‘Gastro pub’ (Go away), but this is the kind of pub I like. A mix of old and young faces, a friendly barman awaited us and half a box of crisps seemed to find its way to the table too. Between a Bulmers drinker and a Corona drinker, things were looking a little different to normal. A friend of one of the lads adds a pint of something that isn’t Guinness (!) to the table and we’re now about as diverse as that Abrakebabra ad from five years back (You’ve got the whole world….)

The black stuff is good. Bargain town stuff Monday to Friday too, at €3.50 before a certain time in the evening. I wish I remember the details. Some day, I will be like a journalist and carry a notepad and all that business.

Honestly, I would condemn a bad pint if I got one on a pub crawl, and I think maybe the pub crawl in question just got lucky, but these pints were great. Again, seconds are ordered here (and I think in some cases thirds) and the cosy spot in the corner is occupied for a good hour or so. This is how you lose a pub crawl, when it becomes a pub sit-in.

There seems to be flashy lights (not much, mind) and a Rod Stewart track coming from the back of the pub, a sort of Dead Disco nobody is paying any attention too. Pubs like this should avoid that lark. This pub is buzzing with the sound of chat and laughter and doesn’t need anything else. In fact, I wonder if anyone else at the table even picked up on the sound. The walls are well decorated and not at all tacky, and the pub clean and well presented. Another unfaultable barman, you’d wonder if the pubs knew we were coming in advance today (imagine).

I can see a return performance here some night. I’m chuffed with the Dorset Street/Drumcondra gamble so far, and it’s all make or break now at the last hurdle, Mayes.

Mayes of Dorset Street. Photo from flickr user Ian_Russell

I’ve always loved the Guinness clock feature on the front of this pub,but never ventured inside. Apparently this was once quite a popular pub with Dublin politicos(I would guess due to the Teachers Club also being in the area) and being located only a stonesthrow from O’ Connell Street, I’m not sure why I’ve never ended up here before.

The pints are again right up to scratch, and being the last pub of the night, consumed in good numbers. I order a vodka (!SACRILEGE!) and relax, content with how the evening has gone. The pub is laid back, with a number of (what appear to be) locals at the bar and a few small groups scattered about. Like with The Red Parrot earlier it would be hard to say anything too amazing about the place, and yet it is a great pub. It does the job. The barman even popped over with a free toasted sandwich, brilliant. (The fact Oisin had to remind me of this TODAY is an indication of where I was at by that stage)

So now, it’s end of the night stuff. It goes past eleven on a Sunday ‘evening’, and a half five pub crawl can be deemed a success. The bus is gone. Let it go. Maybe we need to start earlier, who knows. I think our new recruits had fun, and that’s all that matters. Certainly, the pubs today were of different stock to those done before. In some cases, there’s very little you can say about these pubs. They’re good at what they do.

We’re a pub. Simple.

This should be over the doors of a few of them.

Fagans of Drumcondra, as hxci threatened in his article on barstool football fans, remains unvisited. Us little people don’t forget 😉

Fagans of Drumcondra, snap by flickr user MacGBeing

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W.Ryans
Parkgate Street
Dublin 8

Ryans of Parkgate Street, photo by flickr user:send2mkelly

I pass Ryans on the bus a few times a week, but can’t recall having a pint here before, and don’t think I’ve set foot inside the place since the Euro arrived. So, a first pint (I didn’t start that early…) in a pub that often finds itself on any list of the ‘best pints’ in Dublin.

Before you get to the bar however, you’re taken aback by the look of the place. Pieces like the clock above the bar and the classic light installations date back to a magnificent pub of old, and the walls are kept clean of any ‘Ole Ole’ type nonsense that can sometimes take away from a pub. This place dates back to the 1830s, and would not take well to being messed with. A few old snaps of the area and the city, a branded mirror or two, sin é. Perfect. Such a beautiful pub would be ruined otherwise.

The pint comes in at a fantastic €4, the same as the recently reviewed Hop House and a bargain in Dublin in all truths. It is unfaultable, though I’m the only drinker here- in the company of a driver, a child, and a brandy drinker. I find nothing wrong with it, and none of the people around the bar seem to have a problem with it either. In fact, they’re coming in thick and heavy.

Plates everywhere, and plenty of stuffed faces too. The food here is said to be fantastic, and people look content. Only hours from the rugby match, some of the younger punters have the look of men stabling the stomach before they dare touch another. Others are tucking into plates of food while reading the weekends Irish Times, something they may well do every week. I’ve rarely been let down by a Dublin pub with a fine reptuation for food, as such a reputation is not earned too easy in a city with more pubs than actual restaurants.

I hear a crowd, and am taken aback. The telly is on, and the Dubs about to take to the pitch. Fair enough. Ryans have the right attitude to the television it seems, nobody came here to watch Nationwide and there is no reason for the television to be on bar a green or blue jersey taking to a pitch. I can work with that. The absence of a television altogether is one of the reasons I fell completely in love with Kavanaghs in Glasnevin for example.

Parkgate Street is a little bit of a journey from town some would say, but it is and it isn’t. It’s right on the doorstep of the Phoenix Park, a stonesthrow from some fantastic museums and sights, and the bus stops right across the road. It’s well worth a visit.

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“We built this city on debts and booze…”

 

Molly and her admirers...

 

Having only remembered on Thursday previous it was my turn again to choose our route for Sunday, I hastily cobbled together a list of potentials, had a quick scout on the interweb and took a little time to whittle my list down to five. If only we could visit them all; give it time and we will have I guess.  An interesting weekend it was turning out to be with the madcap encounter described by DMcHugh below on Friday evening, a great Punky Reggae Party in Seomra Spraoi later that night, a large slice of luck on Saturday afternoon (many thanks to Ringsend Rose;) and a beautiful Sunday afternoon. What better day for a walk around the city…  Waiting at Molly Malone for the lads, I was witness to streams of tourists pause and giggle at Molly’s… ahem… appendages, funny photos  to be taken back home and talked about, and no doubt the source of many profile pictures on Facebook and Bebo alike. I couldn’t believe it- a queue actually started to mount- I’d say if you stood there with a Polaroid camera and a sign saying “Photographs, €10” you’d be worth a fortune. Anyways, I’m losing the run of myself. A quiet start this week, just the three of us mainstays meeting for the start, to be joined later by Antrophe, DSmith and JFlood.

The Duke, Duke Street

So… first stop. I had decided to cover old territory; Around Grafton Street, we had already stopped off, with varying degrees of success, in Nearys, McDaids, The Bailey, Kehoes and Davy Byrnes. One pub missing from this list, one we should have included before now but neglected, is of course The Duke, on Duke Street. The outside of this pub belies a certain grandeur within; it really is a large premises that you can’t imagine ever being packed, what with the same floorspace in the upstairs bar as down. The end of the milk cup or tin cup final or whatever piece of silverware it was the Manchester Reds and the Birmigham Clarets were battling out for was on the big screen but the barman pointed out that there were a couple of quieter seats down the back or upstairs. (You might have noticed a theme of disdain towards the English Premier League in mine and DFallon’s posts, thats pretty much because we do hold it in disdain, and well, something akin to hatred, preferring to support teams actually on this island.) I didn’t do my duty and write the prices of the pints down in each place but if memory serves, pints here were €4.45 and very enjoyable indeed. A nice crowd in too but well dispersed, such is the lay out of the place. JayCarax led the way and we captured a nice quiet table near the back of the pub. Another venue for the pour your own pint initiative that seems to be popping up all over the place, you wonder if the characters historically connected with this place (It was, for a time, purported to be the favourite watering hole of Behan, O’Brien and other Dublin literary luminaries, and after that, Ronnie Drew and his cohorts) would take to such a thing, I can imagine them pouring and drinking the pints alright, its the paying for them that I’m not sure about.

The Gingerman, Fenian Street

We didn’t linger too long, aware that the night had to end earlier than usual with JayCarax spinning the decks at the The Magnificent 7’s Session in 4 Dame Lane later that night. A nice place this, innocuous enough to be honest, historically important when it comes to Dublin social history but not much you can say after that; A fine pub, with fine pints and fine staff, certainly one that didn’t jump out as being outstanding having lost the characters of old  but I don’t have a bad thing to say about it either.

So we upped and headed out the door, to our next stop which was to be The Gingerman on Fenian Street. The Gingerman, which takes it’s name from the famous novel by JP Donleavy (a Mullingar resident now, strangely enough.) The first thing that hit us walking in the door was the smell, and that’s never a good thing- Close your eyes and you could well be in the Markievitz swimming pool down the road; bleach or chlorine or both… At least its an indication the place is clean I guess! I wasn’t over-awed by this place to be honest, nice and all as it was. None of us ventured a try at their home brew, all sticking to pints of plain at a relatively expensive €4.60. I guess the fact it’s attached to the Davenport Hotel drives the price up. DFallon was happy to see “real, actual books” on the shelves though, after his terrible let down out in the airport. The table opposite us was surrounded by young Trinners types sipping on “min-er-dils;” 7-ups and Fantas all around for some reason, maybe they didn’t trust the drink or were just the athletic type, who knows. Joined on this stop by JFlood, three became four and we headed off after another couple of mediocre pints.

Ned Scanlons, Townsend Street

The next stop was probably the strangest of our stops so far on this run. Ned Scanlons (Or just plain and simple “Neds”) on Townsend Street is an institution in itself. They make absolutely no qualms about being a spit-and-sawdust  local and rumour has it that it’s not long since they stopped spreading sawdust on the floor, having recently undergone “renovation” and adding quite a nice beer garden/ smoking area out the back. Now, it would be suicidal of me to criticize this place too much, as a few old friends and work-mates count it as their home-away-from-home but to say it’s “quaint” will do. You can’t give out, the pints ring in at €3.80 a pop. This was no student deal (You get the feeling students would be torn alive in here,) just one of the cheapest pints in Dublin. And a nice pint it was too, served by a jovial barman with his shirt hanging out at the back and looking like he had been indulging in the stock himself. I like this sort of pub, I’m not sure if the others do though. Going to the jacks is like heading into a dungeon, the womens was only added as an afterthought a couple of years ago, and the mens not far before that. Renowned as an early house, Neds is in the same tradition as Kennedys at Tara Street station and certainly one of a dying breed. As four became five, with Antrophe joining us, and inebriation setting in, we started on the short hop to our next stop, The Longstone down the other end of Townsend Street.

The Long Stone, Townsend Street

I’ve already written a bit about this place below but I didn’t really go into it other than discuss the beautiful banners they have hanging on the walls. Aesthetically beautiful, this place and Davy Byrnes probably fight it out for the title of Dublins best looking pub. Although large and imposing,  a lot of work has gone into ensuring that it remains authentic and doesn’t turn into a faceless beerhall. The front part of the pub is anonymous enough, small tables in areas squared off by the couches but when you get to the back of the pub… wow. This area is enclosed on three sides by a natural stone framed staircase on the left,  a large landing area with quiet low tabling to the front and a narrow natural timber staircase to the right . We took up positon next to the ornate fireplace, said to represent Lugh, the norse god of light and heat… or something. We were joined here by DSmith, on his first venture along to the CHTM pubcrawl. As I said, I did a sizable piece on this pub below so don’t want to harp on about it. It’s beautiful to look at, I think pints were somewhere in the €4.60 range and weren’t too shabby. The banners I talked about below, obviously, inspired a great deal of conversation as again and little known facts and titbits of history started to flow and we lost ourselves, yet again. I’ve been here on a Friday evening before and it does tend to get busy, as do most Dublin pubs on Friday, an onslaughtg of office workers from all over the city who stagger from work to pub and merrily home.

Bowes, Fleet Street

Merrily we left this place too, and after a brief run in with an Gardaí Siochána who demanded JayCarax list off what records were in his case before letting us go on our way (a truly comic… or tragic moment, a young man with a suitcase full of records; unheard of) muttering that it must be a quiet night on Dublin’s streets. Last stop, and new ground for us all- Bowes on Fleet Street.

I only realised the existence of this pub a couple of months back, one of the blokes in work telling me of “a fine little shop,  next door to that student kip;” his words, not mine. You could be fogiven for missing the place, the narrow frontage often disguised by the busses parked outside. Attached to Doyles, this place often gets by-passed and forgotten about but not anymore with me. If I’m thirsty and in this part of town, I’ll be sure to drop into Bowes again. Definitely not what I was expecting, having been told that this is an “old-mans-pub,” no spit-and-sawdust nor tobacco stained walls anywhere to be seen, just a quiet, well kept, lovely pub, with  couples chatting quietly over pints and a few more tables occupied by stragglers, quietly reading the days news before joining the Sunday evening exodus out of the city. Pints rang in at €4.50 and were more than acceptable. I don’t know what to say about this place really, I know nothing of its history, I’d never been here before and was relying purely on the recommendation of a friend but I really liked it. It is certainly a “home-y” sort of a place, very relaxed in atmosphere and everyone seemed to be on first name terms with the lady behind the bar. I was delighted to hear a bit of music start up in the other corner, starting off with a lone Uileann Piper, one of my favourite instruments, I’d love to pick a cheap set up but apparently there’s no such thing as a cheap set, the things cost a bloody fortune. If there’s one good thing to come out of this little experiment of ours, we’ll all have the ability to walk through the streets of Dublin and say “I know a lovely spot not too far away” no matter where we are.  I have a feeling I might not be too far away from Bowes tomorrow evening, I might drop in and see if the pints are still as good…

So, the end of the night was upon us, and a communal visit to Supermacs for their snack-box special and we we’re off. Another five pubs down, making it thirty four or so we’ve reviewed already, and many, many more to go.

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“Come on; stall down here, we’ll get cans in, head to a pub, and then hit Dancehall Styles,” I say. “Grand, but meet me up in The Flowing Tide for one first” he says. Do we make it to Dancehall Styles? Not a chance. The Flowing Tide on Abbey Street has the ability to put the goo on you for a night on a bar stool. It’s a great spot, just off O’Connell Street but it somehow manages to avoid the majority of the ‘five-around-one-pint-of-stout” tourists that places like The Oval and Murrays seem to attract in abundance. Pints at a nice price too, at €4.15, unusual considering. The barman is a gent too, though I remind myself not to get on his bad side.

The Flowing Tide, by Sarahjoh, from Flickr

I was here one afternoon with my brother, ingesting a couple of quiet ones before we legged it down to Connolly to catch the train home. There was just the two of us and the barman, swapping small talk and watching the wrestling on telly, laughing and cracking jokes about it, when all of a sudden, two thirty-something blokes, straight from the office, and pretty hoi-polloi, strode hurriedly in. Without looking at the barman, one nasally whined “Hoi, stick on two Heino and the last race at Cheltenham, good man.” Christ. The barman, without taking his eyes off the telly said “Nah, lad, we’re watching the wrestling.” The two “Heinos” didn’t know where to look, eventually said “you can cancel the Heinos,” turned heal and left. I didn’t know where to look either, I nearly spilled my drink with laughter. So, moral of the story, don’t cross the barman with the moustache…

Anyways, great little spot; with the theatre across the road, you often get well known faces dropping in- Mick Lally (Miley from Glenroe) is a regular, though he’s a little worse for wear these days to be honest. But he wasn’t there tonight, just myself, jaycarax and a few locals. A couple of pints later and it was obvious that neither of us would have the energy to make it to see our friends in Worries Outernational. What we could do is get the grub in and head for another couple of quiet ones elsewhere.

Sin É, from properpint.com

So, after a quick stop off in the Peoples Kitchen on Capel Street (worth an article in itself- good asian food at half the price,) we headed as far as Sin É on Ormond Quay, pleasantly surprised to find that on Sundays, they do €3 pints of Guinness. I was hoping there wasn’t a reason for the pints being €3, but other than them being served in non-branded glasses (a bit of a pet hate,) you couldn’t complain.

Sin É: I really don’t know what to make of it. It tries to attract an “in” crowd, but bars like that are generally, well, a bit crap to be honest, but this place does well in that the staff are proper spot-on, the music is always good, and the punters are sound too. It’s frequented by Irish and non-Irish alike, a lot of backpacker types, alongside a couple of locals propping up the bar. Nice place it has to be said I guess. We stayed for a couple of their nice €3 pints before I realized the night was getting on and I had work bright and breezy in the morning. A right pain in the arse as we had just settled ourselves into some nice seats just inside the door. Ah well; not a bad evening, nice and cheap, not to be scoffed at in these times, the pints and the food came to less than €30. Well worth a try again sometime!

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