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Posts Tagged ‘Dublin Pubs’

In Dublin, the town Joyce claimed was impossible to traverse without passing a pub (only to be disproved with the aid of Google Maps a century later,) it can still be hard to find somewhere that suits your situation no matter the mood.

Somewhere that we’ve taken to recently is the Sackville Lounge, not spitting distance from O’Connell Street on Sackville Place. It’s that perfect mix of archaic and well, non archaic- a one room, no nonsense bar with a great pint, and with sound staff and customers alike. The horse racing on the telly, a bookies next door and the hum of ham and cheese toasties in the air; always made to feel welcome, and always a chat forthcoming whether in company or on your own.

In a city racing to be London-lite but with our dazzling city lights emanating from Spars, Starbucks, exuberant donut shops and expensive ‘brunch spots’ (I’ve grown to hate those words,) places like the Sackville are rapidly becoming a dying breed. People will claim Kehoe’s, Neary’s, Mulligans and their ilk to be the best ‘old man pubs’ in the city. To me, none is a patch on the Sackville.

roadtotherising

The Sackville during RTÉ’s ‘Road to the Rising.’ Image From the Sackville’s Twitter account

We spent a Saturday there last year in what I can only describe was a session of Canterbury Tales proportions. Dozens of people stuck their heads in throughout various parts of the day and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much in my life, or walked away from another pub in Dublin with the same “that was a good day” feeling than I did then. We spent another Saturday there watching Bulmer Hobson sip whiskey and mull over James Connolly’s pre-Rising disappearance as part of Anu Productions excellent  “Glorious Madness.” We saw a British army soldier duke it out with his sister’s ICA partner outside in another Anu piece during RTÉ’s ‘Road to the Rising.’ And I’d like to say I cheered home many a winner there but I think the place was a jinx on me but that matters not, we’ll be there this weekend to say farewell.

For here comes the hammer blow- from a cryptic message board post the other day we gleaned that the Sackville is due to close its doors. Confirmed by the staff and by a quick Google revealing a ‘mutual lease break’ date on the ‘Spire Portfolio’ (which contains the Sackville Lounge amongst other properties) of 8/2/17, it looks to be true. No doubt the recently granted planning permission for Clery’s across the lane and for the construction of a new hotel on Sackville Place will have an effect on the future use of the premises as Dublin looks set to lose yet another of the institutions that made it what its known worldwide for. Sadly, as they say, another one bites the dust.

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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 Digital Projects section of Dublin City Public Libraries have over the past year done great work in sticking up old images of the City in times past. The latest collection to go online is one hundred and thirty or so images of Dublin pubs, some whose doors are still open, others who who live only in the memories of ex- punters. The full gallery can be seen here.

The Commodore, from Dublin City Public Libraries

The Swallow, from Dublin City Public Libraries

The site is a mine of photographic information, they have fantastic galleries on Dublin’s Sporting Heritage, the ’74 Dublin Bombings, “Missing Dublin” and now this. I look forward to more.

Billy Lavelles, from Dublin City Public Libraries

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Unless you’re a newcomer to CHTM, you’ll know that on one Sunday a month the three of us, in the company of a small group of friends head out on a pub crawl, with pubs selected by one member of our troop but not revealed until we’re standing outside the door.

So, Halloween evening, and it was pubcrawl time again. This week, the pubs were selected by JFlood, the only person outside of the CHTM trio to have ventured to pick a route so far. The starting point was Charlemont Luas stop, not far from Ranelagh, so we had a fair idea what side of the city we were headed for. Four thirty was the alotted meet up, and we didn’t have far to go to the first stop, The Barge on Charlemont Street.

I’ve been told that on a warm Summers day, there’s nowhere like the place, getting your pint from the bar and then heading out to sit by the canal and enjoy it. No such luck today, four thirty, Halloween afternoon, dark and dreary Dublin. Not inside The Barge though, a large airy bar split into three levels, the ground floor, a mezzanine area and the second story.  A beautiful place to look at inside, and spotless throughout; I was quite taken with the place on first impressions. What I wasn’t mad about was that most of the trade was taken up by a Sunday lunch crowd. Now this isn’t an offence in itself, but I’m not crazy on the idea of having a few scoops somewhere in the knowledge that there’s a family tucking into dinner beside me. The food looked and smelled great, but it was the Guinness we were here for. We took up position in an excellent little snug hidden upstairs with a couch and two arm-chairs squeezed into it and hit the bar to be welcomed by the news that the barman would drop down our pints; a nice touch.  The pint, at €4.40 went down well- they obviously take pride in their presentation, as unlike a lot of places that do food, the glasses were spotless and the pint looked perfect. I quite liked this place, it was nice to be tucked away from the hustle and bustle, with the barman down to us after a few minutes asking if we wanted another. But, we were only staying for one so had to make our apologies.

The Barge Bar by Bill in DC, from Flickr

As expected, JFlood led us yet again away from our comfort zone of the city centre. His previous pubcrawls had taken us around The Liberties (my favourite pubcrawl yet by far) and Rathmines so it didn’t suprise me when we headed up Ranelagh Road.

The next pub was one I don’t think half of our group had ever set eyes on before, never mind set foot in. Hidden away on Mount Pleasant, behind the new school on Ranelagh Road and with rows of neighbouring on either side, The Hill is reminiscent, situation wise at least, of Gravediggers in Glasnevin- hidden away in  residential area. But as often the case, a hidden pub can be a hidden gem and such is the case for The Hill. A smashing looking bar inside and out, this place looks like its been here since time began; they’ve maintained the Victorian stylings down through the years, and is the kind of pub that feels like its been passed down through generations. A quick look in the Irish Times archive shows it was last on auction in 1999 so that dispels that notion.

We got a few inquisitive looks as we entered, a definite sign of a locals bar, but thats to be expected as the bar lies off the beaten track. The barman again offered to bring the pints down and we sat ourselves in a raised seating area up the back, under the telly. And whilst Liverpool were on, and there were a few regulars watching, the volume wasn’t pumped up as it would normally be and we had no problem talking over it. Not too far away from Rover’s heartland of Miltown here so myself and DFallon exchanged a few nods at the expense of the regulars nattering about their lifting of the LOI trophy on Friday night. It did suprise me when one of them let a roar out of him when Liverpool scored with a few minutes to go- in Rovers absence from Miltown, he had obviously adopted an English club… Again though, a beautiful pub.

The Hill, Ranelagh. Pic by Hellplex, from Flickr

Obviously extended into one of the houses next door, the pub seems a lot larger inside than it does out. The pints arrived, and at €4.15 certainly weren’t to be sniffed at; the pint of the night for me. Conversation flowed in this place, and where we normally end up ranting about Michael Collins towards the end of our monthly pubcrawl, he was a target of out venom in our second pub here, (well, more the Neil Jordan film about him. A car bomb? In Dublin Castle? Now there’s historical revisionism.) Nice warm bar, interesting surroundings, great pint and a spotless jacks led this to be pub (as well as pint) of the night for me.

So back into the cold and dark and onwards to our next stop, Russell’s in Ranelagh village. Another eatery this, but as the evening was getting their wasn’t too many around. An odd place this, for while in was clean and tastefully decorated, it just lacked a certain something- there wasn’t much on the walls to distinguish what kind of a crowd it draws; normally you have a few pictures, snaps of locals or whatever. Russell’s? Nothing that we could see. According to one of the lads, its a big rugby pub, but you wouldn’t know it apart from the ads on the front doors. The pint came in at €4.40 and wasn’t too bad, less care for the presentation here though as two of the four pints were over-filled, while not a mortal sin, its something I know the Guinness quality control team frown upon.

Russells of Ranelagh from YPYounge.ie

Where the first two pubs oozed character, both I would say due mainly to their locations (The Barge right next to a lock and The Hill looking like it was just dropped into a row of houses by accident, I just couldn’t take to this place- it felt more restaurant or bisto than bar, and I don’t think any of us felt too comfortable here. Upstairs looked great, and the smoking area is out on a balcony which is a nice touch but we didn’t fancy the cold so we stayed inside, again up under a telly at the back of the bar.

So onwards to Smyths, just down the road, but not before a quick stop in the Ranelagh chipper and bags of chips all round here. Suprising to see the McDonalds on the corner closed; you’d think they at least would weather the recession- apparently not. Anyway, into Smyths, quite a nice spot,  most of the tables inside occupied, and the ones that weren’t had glasses on them, suggesting a busy evening. With the football just over, I’d presume it was that. Up at the bar I ran into an ex- workmate of mine, a retired civil servant and she swears by this place; I trust her judgement.

Smyths of Ranelagh

As I said, there was a decent crowd in here, so we made our way out to the smoking area. Wood panelled, well heated with a flatscreen showing La Liga, we were all happy here. There are Trinity residences around the corner and what we presume were some of the residents, most of whom embraced the halloween spirit and were wearing fancy dress, took up most of the area, but we found a nice little corner right under a heater. The pint, at €4.45 was the business, well presented, a decent head and tasted great; or my belly may just have been happy from the bag of chips ten minutes earlier. One of the lads definitely got costume of the night approval from CHTM anyways as Super Mario walked past, moustache specially grown for the occasion. Legend. We stayed for a couple here, comfortable as we were, and Smyth’s is definitely a spot I’d have no qualms about coming back to.

I’ll be honest and say this is where it starts to get hazy. JFlood had the next spot picked, McSorley’s, only a few doors down. Chris, my old workmate had told me to head up there either way, recommending it as a great spot. And it was a great spot, though not necessarily my kind of spot. The barman was dead-on, dressed in the garb of the local secondary school, we knocked a bit of craic out of the American football on the telly that nobody seemed to be watching except him.

McSorleys, Ranelagh. from their Facebook

As I said, a nice place, candle lit tables lined the walls, and several of them were occupied. Where Smyth’s seemed to be a youger crowd, McSorley’s came across as more of a thirty- something spot.  They do food, and I’d say the place gets busy on a Friday and Saturday night (its a late bar and so stays open until two o’clock at weekends) but tonight was just a steady stream of custom so we nabbed ourselves a high table close to the bar. Pints were €4.45 and there were no complaints.

We did visit one more pub, Birchall’s but I’d be doing it an injustice to try and review it as I simply can’t remember a thing about the place other than that the pints were somewhere around the €4.40 mark and were fine. And I’m sorry, thats all I remember, not from the drink, honestly. Myself and DFallon were sober enough to make our way back to the Luas stop, somehow befriend the drunkest woman in the world (by befriend, I mean she came up and started talking to us before lying down on the platform.) So there you are, six pubs, five that I remember. Standout of the night though had to be The Hill. But for it’s Rovers associations, it’d be perfect.

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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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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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