Archive for the ‘Pubs’ Category

The way we drink in Dublin has been changing over the last few years; I can’t say evolving, so much as there has been a restoration of natural order. Craft beers vie for counter space alongside Diageo products and pubs like the Black Sheep, Against the Grain and The Beerhouse have sprung up to back up the Porterhouse in breaking the Guinness monopoly. Most importantly, our brewers are starting to brew again, with Five Lamps Brewery and JW Sweetman’s to name but two.

I say ‘again’ as while for decades Guinness and later their parent company Diageo would fully monopolise brewing in Dublin, ours was once an industry that could “present an unrivalled record to the world” (Irish Independent, 05/06/1908) and this city’s brewing was said, as far back as the 17th century to be “the very marrow bone of the commonwealth of Dublin.” (http://simtec.us/dublinbrewing/history.html) The excise list for 1768 showed returns for forty three brewers in the city, with many of these large operations employing dozens of workers.

Throughout the 1800’s, with the rise of Guinness’, Dublin’s breweries either amalgamated or closed so by 1850, there were twenty breweries left, by the 1870’s, there were ten left, and by 1920, there were just four breweries including Guinness’ operating in Dublin. One of the largest breweries during this time was Watkins’ Brewery, originally founded as the Ardee Street Brewery, and later known by the title of Watkins, Jameson, Pim & Co., Ltd.

Advertisement for Watkins' Brewers. From the Aonach an Garda programme,1926.

Advertisement for Watkins’ Brewers. From the Aonach an Garda programme,1926.

A date for the foundation of the brewery is hard to ascertain, but the Irish Times, in an article on Dublin brewers (21/01/1932) reported that Watkins’ “of Ardee Street Brewery hold the record of having paid the highest excise duty of any Dublin brewer in 1766”  so its going at least that long, with the excise list naming Alderman James Taylor as the owner. By the 1820’s, the brewery at Ardee Street was the third largest in Dublin, with an output of 300 barrels per week. It was bettered only by Guinness’ with 600 barrels per week and Michael Sweetman’s with 450 barrels per week.

By 1865 the brewery was exporting over 14, 000 hogsheads or approximately six million imperial pints of stout. (Findlaters: The Story of a Dublin Merchant Family 1774-2001, chapter 4.) The brewery was dissected by Cork Street, with the brewing house and offices on its south side, and 87 dwellings for their workers on the north side, some of which exist today, as can be seen in the image below. The houses were built at at outlay of £14, 460, with rents “from 2/6 to 6/-.”  (Irish Independent, Sept. 12th, 1913.)

Watkins' Buildings, and all that remains of the brewery.

Watkins’ Buildings, and all that remains of the brewery.

The Freemans’ Journal, (12/02/1904) spoke of rumours circulating Dublin of an amalgamation of two of its more prosperous breweries, namely Watkins’ and Jameson, Pim and Co., who would move from their premises between Anne Street and Beresford Street to make way for another Jameson: John Jameson and Son, the whiskey distillers. The article also reported that the Watkins’ family had “long since disappeared, and the business now carried on by Mr. Alfred S. Darley.”

The brewery saw action (although not much) during the 1916 rising, when it was occupied by Con Colbert (a teetotaller) and a garrison of 20 men- an outpost under the direct command of Eamonn Ceannt in the South Dublin Union. The outpost was ineffective, and the volunteers eventually joined up with the Marrowbone Lane distillery garrison. It was also tragically caught up in the events of the “Battle of Dublin,” a week of clashes in Dublin from 28th June to 5th July 1922, at the start of the Civil War that saw over sixty people killed. A cooper by the name of James Clarke who worked in the brewery was shot near Gardiner’s Row on the 6th July whilst walking a friend home. He took a bullet straight to the face and died half an hour after admission to Jervis Street Hospital.

O'Connell's Dublin Ale

O’Connell’s Dublin Ale

Towards the end of the twenties, Watkins’ Jameson, Pim and Co. acquired Darcy’s Brewery and it’s trademarks, including O’Connell’s Dublin Ale, which we’ve mentioned briefly on here before. The Findlaters book acknowledges the takeover of Darcy’s brewery, and also mentions that the company owned several Dublin pubs, “which it called Taps.” In March 1937, the financial paragraph of the Irish Times announced that the firm was in voluntary liquidation. The article shows that at the time, the brewery still employed over one hundred men, and blamed rising excise and falling exports for their downturn.The Findlaters book above also says that while the company outlasted many of it’s competitors, it closed down in 1939.


We took a look at Dublin’s air raid shelters recently, and in 1943, the brewery was subject to a high court wrangle with a High Court judge quashing a warrant issued by a district justice who, under the “Air Raid Precautions Act, 1939” demanded that the Dublin Corporation be allowed enter the brewery, by force if necessary, to build a shelter in its basement. The demand wasn’t met. After this, as the excellent Wide and Convenient Streets concur, things get a little bit hazy regarding the brewery. In September 1951, there was a large fire at the site, and by 1954, advertisements pop up in various papers offering factory premises to let. With a history spanning three centuries, the brewery seems to have gone “quietly into that good night” along with the rest of Dublin’s breweries, which we hope to cover in the near future.

* Company records sites suggest there was a “Watkins, Jameson, Pim & Co. (1976) Limited”  set up on Wed the 28th of Apr 1976 and is still in existence at 10 Ardee Street.


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You won’t find this on tap in Dublin anywhere today.

Walking through Temple Bar, you can’t help but spot the fantastic ‘Beoir’ stickers in the windows of pubs, telling the punter that the establishment offers a selection of Irish craft beer. They are a fantastic and welcome addition to the front of Dublin pubs, and give hope that an era of new selection and taste for the Irish pub frequenter is upon us. What Daniel O’Connell failed to do (that is eh…take down Guinness in the city), Irish craft brewers may manage in time. Of course, I love a few pints of plain as much as the next Dubliner, but diversity is the spice of life.

Our pubcrawls have taken us from Windy Arbour to Lucan and everywhere in between, but I thought rather than look at a geographic location I’d go for a theme. Could we manage an entire pub crawl without a pint of Guinness or Heineken being consumed? I thought it worth a shot. Could we do it without crossing the River Liffey and staying on the northside? Challenge accepted.

The numbers were low at the outset. I’m not really surprised, as I’m up to my eyes at the minute and I don’t think I made the same gallant effort to recruit troops as the others have on past efforts. Still, anything over a dozen people entering a pub can resemble a riot and not a pub crawl, so perhaps starting with six and ending with around ten isn’t a bad days work in terms of numbers. The route I had planned would take us from The Brew Dock opposite Connolly Station to The Black Sheep on Capel Street, with plenty of variety on between.

‘The Brew Dock’ (From official site)

The Brew Dock occupies what was formerly home to Kate’s Cottage opposite Connolly Station and within pissing distance of the IFSC. Kate’s Cottage always struck me as a real ‘locals’ establishment, and the outside is unrecognisable today. The folks behind Against The Grain are responsible for this new effort. Actually, they’re behind much more than that. Against The Grain, The Black Sheep, The Brew Dock and a host of brilliant Galway pubs are part of the one family tree.

‘Life is too short for crap beer’ reads the blackboard behind the counter. The selection can knock you back a bit, but we run with 5AM Saint from Brew Dog in Scotland. It’s become a CHTM favourite. It’s a damn good red ale, 5%, and something we’ve been drinking for a good while now and enjoying. It’s great to see it on tap. The only problem? A pint comes in at over €6.

Now, of course you get what you pay for and all that, but €6 for a pint is a bit much and it’s only when Ci draws by attention to it that I notice. It’d be a pricey pubcrawl at that rate across the board. Still, this is a great pub, and there’s a selection of beers at a variety of prices, and the offer of a beer of the week for €4. They seem to have a good line of coffees on offer too, and follow the company standard of offering two-for-one dinners once a week. We like this one. Will it take off and enjoy the success of its sister established Against The Grain? Who knows. The IFSC is a ghost town in many ways, it might come down to the locals warming to the change.

The company seem to have a ‘standard theme’ for their pubs, I’d like to see a bit of variety on that. There’s nothing wrong with some local history and snaps on the walls of a pub. This is a very welcome addition however, and shows that even closing inner-city pubs present an opportunity for something new.

We take off for Dorset Street and WJ Kavanagh’s. It is pissing rain, and the walk feels a lot longer than it probably is. We’d been here before. It was a decent boozer with a good pint, and a bottle of the cringy Michael Collins whiskey sat in the window back then in March 2010. Today, it’s
following the trend in Dublin at the minute and it boasts a whole new range of taps and bottles.


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For anyone just stumbling across CHTM!, once a month 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 make sure not to give away any details beforehand. The reviews are often as varied as the pubs with the three different writing styles giving three very different narratives.

Before I start talking about the pubs, I’ll mention two things. I can’t let the introduction pass without me contradicting it in some way. When I say we are joined by “a small group of friends,” I mean all previous ones we were joined by a “small group of friends.” This pub crawl somehow managed to draw the attention of over twenty extras. Great fun in that conversation was never lacking, but difficult with regards getting the group from one pub to the next. Still, we managed it, with no punches thrown. Secondly, I don’t know what it is with me, is it age or just the sheer quantity of Guinness consumed since the inception of this blog but these pub crawls are getting harder to write, and my apologies for the gap between the crawl and the review.

Disclaimer: Prices may become inaccurate towards the end. Feel free to correct!

The Dice bar, from Rate My Pub on Flickr

The February pub crawl kicked off, quite amazingly, on Sunday 4th March. As we are readily running out of pubs in the City Centre, I decided to head down towards Smithfield and Stoneybatter for a look. The infamous horse market had not long finished as we made our way into the Dice Bar, on the corner of Queen Street and Benburb Street. Not a spot I’d been in too many times before, rather drunkenly over Christmas and before that, who knows… a long time anyways. A really cool little spot this, a cross between Sin É and the Bernard Shaw or something along those lines. Good tunes, and a good selection of Irish and International beers, ales and stouts. It being the pubcrawl though, the majority of us were on the Guinness and at €4.30 a go, it wasn’t to be faulted. I found it odd to see a television on in the place, given that up until that point, I didn’t think they even had a telly. But, it was a 6 Nations weekend, and there were a few heads tuned in to the game. (France 17 – 17 Ireland if you must know, cheers Google.)

The numbers attending this pubcrawl meant that when some people were finishing pints, others weren’t long through theirs, meaning more than one pint was consumed in most pubs, and the Dice Bar was no exception. Before the end, our crowd had spilled out of the area we were occupying, and the sound barman directed us to another area recently cleared down the other end of the bar. Great music, odd & interesting décor, (was that a flying astronaut in the corner over the jacks door?) good pints and sound barstaff. A win all round.

Walsh's, from our friends at http://www.publin.ie

The next spot I had picked was the recently re-opened McGettigans, but a quick look inside the door told us we wouldn’t be venturing in today, the place was packed to the rafters. With that, we made our way up towards Dublin’s Left Bank, Stoneybatter, and into J. Walsh & Co. on Manor Street. Another spot I’ve been in a few times and one I really like. Luckily, there was plenty of space in here as the numbers were ever swelling and we were starting to draw glances. We managed to get ourselves an area down the back of the pub at the end of the bar, walls adorned with old images of GAA teams past and other sporting memorabilia. The last time I was here was with a friend who, at the time was living down the road from it. We went in for that fatal “one pint” and ended up falling out of the place a few hours later, deciding to treat ourselves to “a pint and a half one” each round: fun times. (A pint and a half one for the un-initiated is a pint of Guinness and a single measure of Jameson.) Definitely a spot for that carry on rather than a rambunctious gathering such as this, we decided to leave the good people of Walsh’s in peace after one here. €4.15 a pint, my favourite pub of the day, and definitely one I’ll be back to.


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The Swan on York Street

A striking image of The Swan on York Street from, I’m assuming, the 1950s or 1960s.

Photo credit - Unknown

Little has changed.

Photo credit - Le Monde1.

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Hotel bars are by no means the best bars. Yet Jury’s Hotel on Dame Street contained a beautiful antique bar, and when it was due to come under the hammer with the closing of that hotel, it was to end up in the most unusual of places.

Jury’s stood in what is today the location of the Central Bank on Dame Street. A grand premises, as the Irish Independent of October 4 1972 would note, with 95,000 sq. ft. in the 156 bedroom property on the corner of Dame Street and Anglesea Street. Only two doors away, construction was already underway on the Central Bank.

There was due to be an auction on March 6th 1973 which would have seen the contents of the bar auctioned, but a group of businessmen from Zurich purchased the bar for a five figure sum in advance of this. The bar was to be removed to Zurich in its entirety, containing, among other features “a marble-top counter, brass footrails,decorative wall panels and lead light windows”.

Construction underway at the Central Bank.

Today, the pub holds the name ‘The James Joyce Bar’

Of course, James Joyce had strong connections with Zurich, having lived there and indeed being buried in the Fluntern Cemetery near Zurich Zoo. Joyce had left Zurich for Paris in 1920, but returned in 1940 fleeing the fascist occupation of France. For over thirty years the bar of Jury’s Hotel from Dame Street has sat in Zurich, named ironically in honour of a Dubliner who felt the need to leave Dublin to make it as a writer.

The pub today.

The pub today.

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When I look out out my window, I think three things… One is the thought that I might not be in this gaff too much longer, with the bank now owning the place and actively trying to flog it to the highest bidder, the second less depressing thought is wow, this view still amazes me, and the third, hmmm, that Farrington’s place, wonder what that’s like.

Well, I had thought the third until a couple of weeks ago when I made a brief stop in there with a couple of CHTM! comrades. I liked it so much that I persuaded DFallon to call in with me on Friday for an early evening swift one; and its the perfect place for this. While from the outside, it can be compared to the Temple Bar only a few doors down, it exudes much less a “tourist kitsch” feeling, rather an “I know we’re in Temple Bar, have to appeal to tourists but we’re much more serious than that” feeling. If you get what I mean.

My favourite thing about the pub though? They stock Brewdog, and in particular 5AM Saint, an absolutely beautiful Red Ale, the kind of drink that you feel a little bit guilty about paying over the odds for but when you taste it, you know its worth it! They also stock a wide selection of Brewdog’s other bottled creations, Trashy Blonde, Punk IPA and Zeitgeist included, and the barman, who pulled up a stool beside us and had a chat, let us in on a secret… that they’ll soon be getting Punk IPA on tap, only the second pub in Dublin to have it. So I can see myself going back.

Internally, the pup reminds me somewhat of the Mercantile or The Oak, not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, and alongside Brewdog, they’ve a wide range of Irish Craft beers, unusual for a Temple Bar pub, where the staple is four Guinness taps in a row and Diageo branding all over the place, catering to tourists crying out for “a drop of the black stuff.” I went for the 5AM Saint, and tried another beer that they had on special, I think it was O’Hara’s, smoked golden ale (or something to that effect,) and at €5, it compares well with spening around €4.80 on a mainstream lager in any of the pubs around the place.

Its definitely a place I can see myself dropping into the odd time, a nice little spot for one or two pints and a look out the window on a rainy day. The bar was spotless and well run, empty glasses dispensed with as soon as we had fresh pints in front of us (a pet hate of mine is a bar the pulls the glass as soon as you’ve finished it,) the barstaff were spot on, for a pub in TB, it had locals, who all seemed friendly enough, oh and they do food too. I’ll drop in later on in the week to see if they’ve fulfilled their promise regarding Punk IPA, and if so, I’ll bang up a comment here.

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So it seems the banks have taken another pub from us. The victim this time? Kate’s Cottage on the corner of Store Street and Amien’s Street. Its not a pub I’d frequent too often, although I was there to witness Keith Fahey’s first goal for the national side in that game against Armenia in late 2010 so I do have some fond memories of the place.  Shame.

Appoinment of Official Liquidator: Kate’s Cottage Limited
16 January 2012

P J Lynch of 5-7 Westland Square, Pearse Street, Dublin 2 was appointed official Liquidator on 16th January 2012
Petitioner: Collector General
Solicitor for the Petitioner: Marie-Claire Maney, Revenue Solicitor
Registered address: 1 Store Street, Dublin 1
Last accounts filed: 31/05/2010
CRO number: 403192

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Reviews a week after a gig don’t generally make sense so I’m sorry. My excuse here is that a gig it took me two days to get over and then a further three days to get my act together and get the pictures up online whilst struggling to get coherent words together to get out into the blogosphere MUST have been good. That, and the fact that I haven’t written a review or well… anything on here in ages. (Again, my apologies.)

The legend that is Bik McFarlane

Probably Dublin’s worst kept secret started doing the rounds last week after it was announced  Brendan “Bik” McFarlane was to play his first gig in Dublin. The secret being that Damien Dempsey was to share the stage with him in a fundraiser for the Preda foundation, an organisation whose purpose is the ” promotion and protection of the dignity and the Human Rights of the Filipino people, especially of women and children.” Initially to be held out in the Setanta Club in Ballymun, due to circumstances  beyond the organisers control it was moved to Cassidy’s on Westmoreland Street in what I think may have been the first gig downstairs since its recent re-opening. DFallon has spoken of Cassidy’s highly on here before and I love the place so much its starting to vie with Brogan’s for my local, and thats saying something.


And what a night it turned out to be. There was nobody stealing the limelight at this gig, both of the lads more than willing to chat to the seventy or so people who paid in, mingling with the crowd and sharing the mic. There was definitely no headliner and no support, each of the lads equally supporting the other – Bik got up, then Damo, then Bik, the two of them, Damo again before it became a bit of a free for all. Cassidy’s was the perfect venue for the gig; no stage, no queue for the bar and an appreciative audience.


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As she wheels her wheelbarrow…..

Cassidy’s was one of those pubs. You’d often hear about Molly Malone, Dicey Riley and all the others as you walked by. For a long time however Cassidy’s sat empty and neglected, much like Sullivan’s across the street. I’d thought it a victim of the collapse. Now, both pubs have re-opened within weeks of one another.While Sullivan’s is still banging on about wheelbarrows and streets wide and narrow, Cassidy’s has taken on a new vibe altogether.

The first time I walked into this re-opened establishment, it was to the sound of The Smiths. All night, classic and more recent indie seemed the order of the day, and there’s a few noticeable new additions. A massive Star Wars painting stands out of course, but surely it’s the Fußball table downstairs that really grabs your attention. All night, whenever you pass, someone else is on it. It’s a great novelty, in a city where pool tables for example seem to be an endangered species.

The Guinness is up to scratch and fine, but I opt for Fischer’s from there on in. It’s a nice alternative to the usual, and it and Erdinger sit side by side at the end of the bar and I opt for them when available Bishop’s Finger and O’Hara’s are also spotted, giving the pub a rather decent selection beyond the usual few taps.

Behind the bar there’s an unusual assortment of old-school sweets, crisps (Meanies are still around, that’s good news) and the like. something a bit different from Bacon Fries I suppose. The crowd is young and studenty when I drop in, and it’s incredible to think how much a pub can change after spending a year or so in the boarded-up wilderness. Well worth a look.

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Dear UCD Student Bar,

You won’t get away with this forever. The Undergrads might not notice, but I will. The glass is the wrong shape, the taps haven’t been cleaned in a long time I suspect and you can’t rush the thing, let it settle. I’m watching you. Please lower down the music too.

Best wishes,

There is nothing to add.

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False advertising?

I see The Lotts Cafe Bar on Liffey Street has got an external facelift. Included is a new piece of writing which suggests that The Lotts is “Dublin’s smallest bar”. The website suggests the same.

Surely this title is still held by The Dawson Lounge on Dawson Street?

(c) Jay Carax

(c) Jay Carax

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Please tell me you’ve seen ‘Real Ale Twats’, the British comic strip poking fun at beer aficionados? No? Here you go, thank me later.

Here at Come Here To Me we’ve been trying to broaden our horizons beyond Arthur Guinness’ produce. The Bull and Castle, Against The Grain, L.Mulligan’s and the like have all become frequent spots, but so too have more standard pubs which are coming around to supplying more than the traditional and predictable. If you want a pint of Galway Hooker, why not just drop into The Palace on Fleet Street? It’s good to see publicans branching out a little.

In the past, we’ve given special mention to beers we’ve taken to. From Plain, the award-winning Porterhouse Stout, to the rather patriotic English Spitfire. Continuing this grand tradition of ordering anything we don’t recognise in a Dublin pub, a few more new beers have been tasted.

The Gingerman is a pub I very rarely drop into. We checked it out once on a Come Here To Me pubcrawl, but for me it’s just a little out-of-the-way in a corner of the city I’m rarely in. I found myself in it recently killing them waiting for a train to the countryside to arrive (Balbriggan, if you’re wondering 😉 ) and instantly was drawn to the options on tap from the Franciscan Well Micro Brewery in the rebel county Cork. The pub offer three options from Cork, including a Wheat Beer I’d heard only good things about. At €3.50 a pint, the microbrewery option is appealing. I’d heard much of the banana aroma and malt flavour. It’s mild yes, but I could knock through several pints of this. It’s also available in O’Neill’s on Suffolk Street and is worth checking out in my opinion. I enjoyed quite a lot of wheat beer when in Germany in the past, and this is a more than decent effort from the langers down South.

A favourite of mine in recent times has come from north of the border, from the College Green Brewery and their beautiful Molly’s Chocolate Stout.This one has character, and a beautiful almost coffee-like taste to her. I first tasted this stout in L.Mulligan’s, but was so taken by it I purchased several bottles across the seat in the off licence to consume at home. The College Green brewery are new into the game of microbrewing, based next to Queens University as their name suggests, and their other output is just as delicious in the form of Belfast Blonde and Headless Dog.

Lastly, an ale I’ve fallen head over heels in love with is Rusty at Messrs Maguire, ironic as I’m no fan of the pub itself to say the least in terms of layout or character. This is just like I like ’em, bitter and memorable, with a great hoppy finish. Haus Lager and Bock, other in-house produce, are perfectly fine and enjoyable for consumption, but within this premises nothing rivals Rusty. If Messrs Maguire’s truly has been … the venue of choice for raconteurs and ramblers, for imbibers of liquor and the loftiest discourse.” since 1808, I wish they’d turn off the pop music nonsense at night and go back to lofty discourse. Nothing goes better with real ale.

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