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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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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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I popped into this ‘pub’ with two friends last Thursday afternoon.

We all wish we hadn’t.

The scrawled hand written sign on the corner of the street announcing €3 pints ‘all day every day’ should have probably been the first warning sign.

The interior decoration of the place should have been the second. It looked like a second-rate Chinese takeaway in a small Monaghan town. Freshly painted shiny yellow walls, gawky bright ceiling lights and cheap, tacky paintings (€2 each in Hector Grays [RIP] job) covering the place.

We ordered three pints of Guinness off the energetic Asian woman who seemed to be running the place single-handedly. Our third and final warning sign should have been when we saw the pints that she dropped down to us. We should have left there and then.

I’m only a recent convert to Guinness and don’t claim to be in any way an expert but I can tell you that these were the single worst looking pints I’ve ever seen my life. They tasted even worse.

KBranno remarked that the place was more like a ‘drop in centre’ than a pub. He had a point. The dozen or so people, mostly middle-aged bearded men, in the place were all fixated on a small black TV in the corner that was showing the Afternoon Show (RTÉ). It was a very surreal experience.

We finally decided to leave. Leaving our half-finished pints.

It was well worth paying the extra €1.50 for a decent pint, a nice atmosphere and a friendly bartender down the road in The Long Hall.

Restaurant Royale, Upper Stephens Street.

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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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The Front Of The Guinness Guidebook, 1939.

VISITORS
Presenting a suitable letter of introduction are conducted through the Breweries on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between the hours of 11 a.m and 3 p.m in parties of 20, starting at intervals of not less than a quarter of an hour. On Saturdays between 11.am and 12 mid-day. Children under 12 cannot be permitted under any circumstances to go through the works.

The Brewery is closed on all Public Holidays.

(1939)

Arthur Guinness himself, and the Contents page.

The trip down Guinness memory-lane continues with this nice piece. Long before the Guinness Storehouse, visits to the Guinness Brewery were literally just that- visits to the Guinness Brewery. This interesting little book boasts some fantastic illustrations of the process of Guinness brewing, along with information on life for employees of the company.

Workmen are supplied with meals free of charge when engaged on work of a special nature. Motor drivers on early duty (6-7 a.m) are provided with a substantial breakfast. All messenger boys and boy labourers are supplied free of charge with a substantial meat meal in the middle of the day. Free dinners are also supplied to the sons of widows and pensioners who are attending school in the neighbourhood.

Page 42

Illustrations from the Brewery

Illustrations from the Brewery

An example of the contents of the book, detailing social services at Guinness

GA369B

Book of British Authorship
Printed in Great Britain by John Waddington Ltd., Leeds
2/5/39

A fantastic insight into life at the Brewery at the time. A company that took great care of its workers and expected the utmost back in return (for example, during the Dublin Lockout the company dropped a Guinness shipworker with decades of service for refusing to engage with scab-labour on the Dublin docks) The welfare and working conditions at the Brewery were unrivalled in Dublin at the time, and t he fact a guidebook like this was produced long before the Brewery became a tourist attraction in any real form shows the level of professionalism at the Brewery.

My own mother, the daughter of a Guinness worker, still remembers the perks my Grandfather recieved until his death only a number of years ago. A true cornerstone of Dublin life for so long, I hope that with posts like this and earlier posts like that on the Guinness Fire Service, we here at Come Here To Me can shine a light on more than just the black stuff itself.

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Now; it was in my head beforehand that this months pub crawl was going to be a rare treat; We were all to be taking our pints in five pubs we hadn’t set foot in before, a rare occurrence when you consider we once tried naming every pub we’ve drank in Dublin before, and ended up giving ourselves migraines. And I wasn’t to be disappointed. This Sunday, our territory had been marked out in advance by fellow pub-crawler JFlood; we were out of the town centre, away from our comfort zone and up into his neck of the woods- this week, CHTM would hit Rathmines.

Rathmines, last week.

Now it’s odd, I’ve been in Dublin for nine years now, and have been drinking for the majority of those, but I’ve never crossed either of the canals for a pint; unless you count the student bar in UCD that is, or of course Croke Park, the odd time my home county made it there. So there’s a wealth of pubs that I’ve yet to experience, many roads to walk and chippers to drunkenly stumble into afterwards… So, still feeling the after-effects of a bit of a mad one on Saturday night, but looking forward to more-of-the-same, I met with the usual heads at Portobello plaza, and we were joined by another connoisseur in Soundtracksforthem veteran DMcHugh. Crossing the bridge into flatland, we were given a heads up on a bit of local history from jaycarax, who told a tale of the first bridge to cross the canal at Portobello, and a horse drawn carriage that plunged into the lock from it, taking the lives of its six inhabitants. This led to a tradition which was followed for many years of superstitious people disembarking from their transport at the Rathmines side of the bridge and walking across, only to take it up again on the far side.

Toast, by Turgidson, from Flickr

So, enlightened by that gem, we made our way to our first port-of-call, Toast, on Lower Rathmines Road. According to John, this is the bar that the yuppies and monied classes of Rathmines drink in; A self-styled Café Bar, it’s the sort of place you’d have your “hummus pannini and skinny latté” types alongside seasoned Guinness drinkers. Deceiving from the outside, the bar stretches well back more than its exterior would suggest, and seating is a mix of high stools around tables and comfy looking sofas around low tables. Unfortunately the latter were all occupied so we had to make do with the former. Nice looking on the inside too, this place, recently redecorated by the looks of it. At €4.35,  it wasn’t a bad pint, but not a great one either; Something I noticed on this pub crawl was that, while we didn’t get any terrible pubs for pints, we got two lovely ones, two mediocre ones, and one that just didn’t go down right. And this was one of the mediocre ones to be honest. But still, we were happy enough here, we had plenty of space, and the bar-staff even brought us down our pints. This is one of those pubs in which Diageo is running its “Pour your own pint” initiative; We stayed well clear, though there’s a couple of barmen/ex-barmen in the group, we said we’d leave it to the staff… It is their job after all! I liked this place to be honest; It’s the kind of place you might stop by for a pint and the spuds on a Sunday and a read of the paper.

Slatterys, by Mark Waldron, from Flickr

Having settled in comfortably and taken in as much of the atmosphere as we could in a short time, we upped and headed out. As I said, JFlood picked out the route this week and he didn’t disappoint; Next stop was to be MB Slattery’s, JFlood giving us a nice spiel on the history of Rathmines Town Hall on the way. As soon as we walked into this pub, I knew straight away we were onto a winner. For those of you who have never been before, Slattery’s is one in a line of pubs we are losing in Dublin bit by bit- Think of Mulligan’s crossed with Grogan’s, minus the journos and failed writers and you’ve got something close. Unfortunately the little snug inside the door was occupied so we had to make do with a few stools down the back. No matter, lots of ledges and tables to rest the pints on and plenty of space to make ourselves comfortable in. At €4.30, this was one of the lovely pints- You could tell the difference between a good pint and a mediocre one- that after a round of “Sláintes” and a mouthful taken apiece, a certain satisfaction creeps into us all; just lovely. It’s this kind of boozer we’re running out of in this city, as they get shunted out and replaced by pretentious café bars, and the culture and social history that go along with them find it harder and harder to keep on. Obviously the gaffer is sport mad, the walls are bedecked with Irish flags, while a Munster flag and a couple of sporting wall-planners hang on the wall down the back, it pleased me to see that as soon as the football was over, the telly was turned off. No having to spend your quality pub time spoiled by the annoying drawls of Dunphy, Giles and co. I come to pubs for pints and conversation, not to hear those twats! Nice spot from DFallon, copping that while there was no mirrors in the jacks, there was a St. Pauli sticker on the condom machine- We all had a smile at that one.

Graces, not the night we were there though! By Professor Michael Johson, from Flickr

It was with a heavy heart we left this place, for a number of reasons, and we made our way around the corner to Graces/ The Loft.  Now, while airs and graces weren’t required in Slattery’s, they certainly weren’t required here. This is definitely a locals bar, as the shouts and laughter indicated as we entered- no, they weren’t in our direction, just between regulars whose main topic of conversation was to rip the piss out of each other. I don’t blame the barman for eyeing us somewhat suspiciously but he, along with the regulars soon lightened up and we had a chat about the rugby while waiting for the pints to settle. The cheapest pint of the night here, at €4.10, but I’m sad to say it was one of the mediocre ones; maybe it’s just that the drink in Slattery’s was so good, but the pints here just didn’t go down as well. That said, it’s a nice little boozer, maybe not one you’d take a lady friend to on a first date, I’d pick Toast for that accolade, but alright as a “waiting for me mate so I might as well get a quick one into me” sort of place, it reminded me of the Metro on Parnell Street to be honest, plain and not a whole lot going on, but not the worst place around either. Plenty of space in the place divided into restaurant style booths, but with comfy seats; Not one I’d rush to go back to but I wouldn’t mind ending up there either. Looking for pictures for this piece I see they do music, I’d like to try it on a night like that and I might be more enamoured!

Mother Reillys, by Infomatique, from Flickr

Next up on the list was Mother Reilly’s and lord, was I happy we found this place. As inviting as Slattery’s was, Mother Reilly’s is my kind of place and one I’ll definitely be back to. The place oozes character, with flagstone floors, oak beams, candles and cubby holes; It has the feel of a lovely pub, with two (gas powered) open fires that the friendly bar-staff had no problems with us pulling our stools up around. An absolutely cracking pint to beat all that too, great value at €4.15 (or €3.50 with a student card.) I think we all agreed this was the top pub of the night, for look, character and musically too (piped music at a low volume, but good piped music, and that makes all the difference!) DFallon had a Christie Moore songbook with him for some reason, and it was very tempting to bang out a few of the tunes within; You get the feeling they couldn’t care less in this place if you did- I’m sure the regular that happened on our conversation about Moving Hearts might have even joined in. A large beer garden/ smoking area out the back looked as though it might have served us well, had it been closer to the month of June or July, but the February cold drove us closer to the fire, and all the better for it. We took in a couple more pints, such was the welcome in this place, and a props to jaycarax and H for sticking with the black stuff; Usually by the forth pub they’ve switched to the lager- shocking stuff I know, but I think we’ve finally got them hooked. About time and all. I think this joins a list of maybe three or four pubs out of the 25 we’ve visited so far that I’d have no problem recommending to anyone. I’ll be back for a Random Drop Inn anyways.

Rody Bolands, by Professor Michael Johnson, from Flickr

With the night getting on, we decided a pit-stop for soakage was in order so we took a detour up to Burdocks. Fast becoming a staple with us here, their 2-for-1 deal on Haddock and chips (€4.60 a piece between two, sure you’d spend that on a pint.) It went down a treat anyways, and we didn’t stay long as we were due to hit one more pub before the long trek home. I was skeptical enough about the last pub on our list, as the locals in Graces laughed while telling us most of our number wouldn’t get in what with their Dublin accents… We soon realized what the joke was about when we headed into Rody Bolands and saw that every wall was bedecked in Tipperary garb, pictures, old hurls and the kind of tat you’d see in any Irish pub anywhere in the world. We just couldn’t take to this place at all- Why have a beautiful, old bar like this banging out the worst kind of 80’s pop at such a high volume? Where Mother Reillys was a joy to behold, this place was the opposite, the pint of plain tasted a bit sour here, and the music was a complete turn-off. We were unfortunate in that trad sessions run here on a Sunday nights from six, but JFlood wasn’t informed when he was talking to the barman earlier in the week that they ended at eight. Again, what’s the point in that- Surely people are only getting warmed up at that stage? Maybe if we were all a few years younger, and on the pull for someone from Cork, Clare or Tipperary we’d have enojoyed it but… It just wasn’t for us; another night, maybe it would have been fine but. The pint, as I said, wasn’t the may west, and as far as I recall, came to €4.30. Service was prompt, and there were plenty of floor staff around, collecting glasses and cleaning tables. That, I liked, as well as the old shop counter up at the back, which I thought was a nice touch.

So that was that, with a long walk back into town, we all went our separate ways, happy out after a good evening on the tear. Two great finds in Slattery’s and Mother Reilly’s, two grand pubs in Graces and Toast, and an alright one in Rody Bolands. It has to be said, great work from JFlood, it’s only a pity he wasn’t able to do the write-up too. Next months pubs are on me, and we’re back into town for this one!

February’s five pubs were:
1. Toast, Lower Rathmines Road.
2. MB Slattery’s, Lower Rathmines Road.
3. Graces, Rathgar Road.
4. Mother Reillys, Upper Rathmines Road .
5. Rody Bolands, Upper Rathmines Road.

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A recent post on the Guinness Fire Brigade was, as far as I am aware, the only study on the Brigade online. Bar a passing reference on the Irish Times 1916 special website, there seems to be a complete shortage of information when it comes to the ‘Arthur Guinness and Sons’ fire service.

So, what were the odds of this:

Picked up at the Blackrock Market, for an unbeatable €10.

A nice welcome addition in the search for information, pictures and more on the Guinness Brewery Fire Service.

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