Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Once a staple of this here blog, our “monthly” pub crawls have become somewhat sporadic of late. We only managed to fit in five last year, the last taking place all the way back in June, making it 114 pubs that we’ve visited on the crawls alone. Add in another 30 pubs or so that we’ve done on “Random Drop Inns,” I make it that (including the five pubs here) we’ve visited and reviewed 149 pubs in the city.

The back story… for anyone that doesn’t know the story by this stage, once a month or so 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 makes sure not to give away any details beforehand. This month was my turn, and for the first pub crawl of 2013, I decided to drag people out to Ringsend, from where we could make our way back into town, stopping in a couple of spots along the way.  I’ve always loved Ringsend; standing on Bridge Street, you’re a fifteen minute walk to Grafton Street and less than that to Sandymount Strand. Perfect.

The Oarsman, from their official Facebook.

The Oarsman, from their official Facebook

Meeting the other two and KBranno in town at five, a Leo Burdocks and a taxi in the lashing rain later, we headed over the canal and into The Oarsman. A very busy spot this and my first impression was that… Christ, this place is a relic; but in a good way! The pub doesn’t appear to have changed too much inside or out for donkey’s years. There has been a business on this spot since 1882, and a pub here since the sixties. The original grocers shop became the snug area inside the door (where we were lucky to nab seats, kudos to Paul R for that,) and the pub was extended out the back. A long narrow layout means ordering a pint from the beautiful old wooden bar is awkward enough. The stairs down to the jacks is halfway along it on the right, meaning if the seats at the bar are taken and you’re ordering, chances are you’re blocking someone’s way. Nonetheless, we weren’t left waiting and ended up staying for a couple of pints apiece, at €4.45 a pop. The most expensive pint of the crawl but still, relatively cheap compared to pints closer towards town.  A lovely pub this and a place I’ll be back to, if just to try out the food they’ve recently started to serve.


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The plugs for Look Left magazine on this blog are important and I sincerely hope that readers aren’t getting tired of them.

Look Left is going from strength to strength and increasingly becoming an important magazine within Irish politics (and the culture sphere). There’s no doubt in my mind that CHTM! would be plugging it even if we had no involvement in it.

Yours truly has a short interview with Joe Mooney of the East Wall History Group and an article looking at the politics of The Specials (I’ve previously looked at The Blades and The Pogues).

Donal Fallon, Esq has a fascinating piece on Dominic Behan, the slightly overlooked brother who was, arguably, as equally as talented as Brendan.

There are also interesting pieces on issues as diverse as the recent successful Quebec student strike, the left wing FMLN government in El Salvador, workers co-ops in Belfast and a debate on the legalisation on drugs. As always,  there’s strong interviews. This issue includes one with progressive Dublin footballer David Hickey and up and comingclass-conscious Dublin hip-hop MC Lethal Dialect.

48 pages for €2? It’s a bloody bargain. Pick your issue up in any Easons store, now.


Look Left, Issue 12. (Design – Claire Davey)


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The historiography of any period is never complete. For young historians, the period known commonly as the ‘Irish revolutionary period’ can appear one with little room for new writers, with so much written on the pivotal events and personas.

Thankfully, recent years have seen historians engage with the ‘Irish revolution’ in new and exciting ways, moving beyond the macro and looking at individual events and themes in greater detail. A particular effort of note would be Mercier’s top class ‘Military History of the Irish Civil War’ series, but in the field of biography O’Brien’s new ‘Sixteen Lives’ series will see first biographies of some of the executed leaders of 1916 published. New Island books have launched ‘1916 In Focus’, with Paul O’Brien’s study of the Four Courts garrison during Easter Week the first work in the series.

O’Brien’s last effort, ‘Uncommon Valour’, which looked at the South Dublin Union, was reviewed here on the blog in February 2010. Looking at key battles and events in Easter 1916, O’Brien has managed to turn events that take up a few paragraphs in broad-histories into full works, which gives you an in-depth look at some characters who somehow often manage to escape from the narrative of other works.

The Four Courts is more so associated with the Civil War in the popular memory of Dubliners, but some of the bloodiest events of the Rising occurred in the area around the courts. The area which saw heavy fighting during the Rising between the 1st Battalion of the Irish Volunteers and British Military Forces was an area home to some of the poorest Dubliners in tenement dwellings, not far for example from the buildings which had collapsed on Church Street in 1913, killing seven. Edward Daly commanded the forces which occupied the Four Courts and surrounding areas. He would later be executed for his role in the week.


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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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A bit later than normal getting this up, but just to flag that the new Look Left is in stores now…

Look Left

LookLeft 9 – only €2 – includes;

Reports on student protests, Occupy Dame Street, turf wars in Kildare, AFA action against Nick Griffin, defending health services, the community fight against drugs, Occupy Wall Street, the sex industry, doctors in El Salvador, Ship to Gaza, turmoil in Egypt, the Greek Communist Party , Belfast’s Fresh Claim Café, WP Northern Ireland conference

Interviews with PUP leader Billy Hutchinson, America Radical Fred Magdoff, Rapper Captain Moonlight

Main Feature; Ireland’ addiction to low corporation tax and Corporate Imperialism

Features; Occupy – where to now, Revolution in Cork City FC, Friedrich Engels on Ireland, Irish Graphic Novels, book reviews, the Jemmy Hope Column and Around the Left (news from progressive organisations)

Views; WP President Mick Finnegan on Budget 2012, Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy on the need for an EU referendum


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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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LookLeft – in Easons countrywide and good independent bookshops and newsagents

In the latest issue of LookLeft, your truly has report from the Peter Daly commemoration and a piece on Garry O’Neill’s Where Were You? while Master Fallon has an article on Ultra culture in the League of Ireland.


Can trade unions lead a fight back?
Paul Dillon examines the strategic choices which face the trade union movement North and South

LookLeft looks at how class defines health outcomes

NAMA: So why was it created?
Nama plays no constructive economic role so why was it created asks Conor McCabe

The importance of politics
Historian Brian Hanley takes a look at the life of socialist-republican George Gilmore

ESB – ‘It’s Your energy…for now”

Slaves and Slavery
– William Wall looks at the economics underpinning the Magdalene Laundries

Tom Redmond on Left Unity

Reports from Bodenstown

Tomás MacGiolla – An enduring legacy

Fighting austerity in the Banana Republic of Italy

An Uncertain Future – the Arab Spring

A toxic Triangle– Gavan Titley examines the media’s role in the growth of Islamophobia.

Saving the Euro and the cowardice of Social Democracy – Influential Greek economist, Yanis Varoufakis,

Interview with the authors of White Riot and history of Punk


Three pages News from working class communities and the left

Five pages of Reviews

The Jemmy Hope Column

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