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Posts Tagged ‘mulligans’

Not the best of evenings to go for a pint to be honest, with the future of the team I’m about to go shout for hanging severely in the balance. But still, pre- match pints are part of the ritual of going to games, and where better for five supporters to mourn and lament about Bohemian FC than in the heartland of Stoneybatter, half way between the clubs birthplace in the Phoenix Park and its current residence in Phibsboro.

Mulligan's of Stoneybatter, from The Tale of Ale Blog.

Mulligan’s of Stoneybatter is certainly not to be confused with Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street fame.  Whereas the latter has been discussed about in length around these parts, having one of the best pints in Dublin, you can’t get a pint of Guinness in the former. A pub in Dublin without Guinness? Yes, even though this place is a stone’s throw away from the Guinness brewery, it’s a “brewery pub” in the line of the Porterhouse. And yet what did I stump up for? A pint of… Becks.  All the fancy lagers and stout on show and I went for the drink only there to service the plebians…

Apparently one time the haunt of those who couldn’t get served anywhere else in the locality, the proprietors did well to clean the place up and present drinkers with a nicely laid out bar area, stretching way back with nooks and crannies in which a solitary drinker can hide. The bar staff, well presented in pinstripe aprons and with a colossal knowledge of the wares they ply from behind a bar that harks back to the establishments past as a green grocers store. While the pint of Becks was, admittedly great (icy cold, with a head that kept to the bottom of the glass- something you don’t get much in Dublin pubs…) there was not much the staff could tell me about it. But when one of our Bohs comrades bought a fancy bottle of 7% stout, served to him in what looked like a trifle dish, the barman was able to tell him what temperature it should be stored at and what angle it should be poured at… Mad stuff.

And with that, we were off to witness arguably the worst Bohs game I’ve been to in my time. A 2-0 loss to a Galway Utd. reduced to nine men. I wish I could say the couple of beers stifled the blow, but, as nice as they were, they didn’t!

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(A review of of the pubs, clubs and gigs)

Sunday, 27 December:

As cabin fever was setting in after a full 48 hours with my Christmas obsessed mother, I decided to meet up with my friend Paul for a drink on Sunday evening, the day after Stephens Day.

We met at the top of Grafton Street and strolled down to Ruaille Buaille on South King Street (formerly called both Major Tom’s and Down Under) as we heard they were doing €3 drinks. To our disappointment, it was closed. For good. Another victim of the recession.

Grafton Street (contemporaryphotograph.com)

Our Plan B was the ‘Restaurant Royale’ on Upper Stephens Street which I read online were doing €3.50 pints. It also turned out to be closed.

Thankfully our Plan C, ‘Karma’ on Fishamble Street was open. Usually a popular spot for its drink deals, the place was empty on this particularly night.

While we were sipping our drinks, a French couple weighed down with luggage walked into the bar. With them was their Dublin taxi driver. The three of them seemed a bit stressed. From what we could gather, the couple had booked online to stay in the connected George Frederic Handel Hotel back in early December. However, no one had told them that the hotel shut up business three weeks ago and now they were stranded on a cold, Sunday evening in Dublin without accommodation. Thanks to the friendliness of the taxi driver, a few young locals at the bar and a security guard outside, the couple were able to quickly secure a room at a hotel around the corner. As of today, the hotel’s website is still online which is a bit dodgy, especially if they’re still accepting bookings.

As Karma was no better than a cold, empty warehouse, we finished our drinks and headed around the corner to The Turks Head. I’ve always liked The Turks Head for some reason. The interior is lovely, the staff are always friendly, they have great ska nights on Thursdays and you can get a pint of fosters for €3.75. Though I’ve been through the doors many times, I only noticed that evening that they served food. Feeling a bit peckish I ordered a portion of Garlic Bread and Vegetarian Spring Rolls, which I shared with Paul. The servings were generous, the quality decent and at only €3 something each, they were a bargain.

The Bionic Rats @ The Turks Head. Every Sunday.

At this point, the messer DFallon walked in, on time as usual. We finished up our pints and strode up to The Lord Edward at Christ Church Place where we were to meet an old friend Oisin who was home for Christmas from London. The pub was buzzing with little clutters of friends and work mates in every corner laughing and drinking the evening away. The celeb spotter in me noticed Roddy Doyle sipping a Guinness with two friends. We had an enjoyable night of banter and reminiscing. Begrudgingly leaving at around 11.15pm in order to get the last bus. The steaming salt and vinegar chips from Burdocks being my only comfort as I traipsed down Dame Street to catch my bus.

Monday, 28 December:

On Monday evening I went to see Madness in The Point Theatre (O2) with my younger brother. My ma had won two tickets at a work raffle and passed them on to me. Though I’ve always been a Specials’ man, I always had time for Madness. They produce catchy, pop songs – ‘My Girl’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Our House’ and my personal favourite ‘Deceives The Eye’. I was excited. I had never seen Madness live before and I hadn’t been to the new 02.

As we entered the venue, three separate members of security checked our tickets. It all seemed a bit over the top. I headed over to the bar to get a pint. My choices of larger were Carlsberg, Carlsberg or Carlsberg. The barman asked for I.D. No problem, I thought, handing over my Age Card, he’s only doing his job. He studied the picture, looked at me, checked the Date of Birth and then looked at me again before casually mentioning that they “only serve alcohol to individuals over the age of 21”. What a joke.

We ended up paying exorbitant prices for soft drinks. The whole mood of the place was wrong. It didn’t feel right going to Madness with groups of families scoffing Tayto crisps and big bags of popcorn all around you. Depressed looking twenty something year olds walking around the aisles selling plastic bottles of Carlsberg like it was a baseball game in the States. It was along way from when Madness played the Olympic Ballroom off Camden Street in 1980.

Jerry Dammers from The Specials acted as the warm up DJ (Dammers famously had a big falling out with the rest of the band meaning that he didn’t join them on their triumphant 30th anniversary tour). There’s no doubt that Dammers was an excellent DJ and has a unrivalled knowledge of ska particularly the early Trojan and Studio One records. However, he shouldn’t have been the one trying to warm up such a huge crowd and venue. Leave Dammers for the after show party. Madness should of got one of the many local hardworking ska bands to act as support. The Bionic Rats, Present Arms, Skazz or The Gangsters come to mind. Fact of the matter is – it doesn’t work well to have a DJ in the middle of a massive stage, playing old 45s, trying to loosen up the crowd in a venue the size of large warehouse.

Following a long wait and an anti climatic 10mins ‘short’ documentary about the early days of Madness that they shown on a screen that was too small above the stage, the band came on. As hoped, they were on form, belting out hit after hit. The crowd went nuts. Decent end to a bad start.

Afterwards, I went down to meet Dfallon and some of his school friends (who I’ve since befriended) down in Mulligans on Poolbeg Street. The place was surprisingly busy for a Monday evening. By the time I finished queuing up and had the first sip of my pint, the gang had begun to put on their coats. This was a pub-crawl and our next stop was Kehoe’s on South Anne Street. The whole place was packed. It’s no fun trying to have a pint and a chat when you risk knocking someone’s drink by turning around. After Kehoe’s, we began an ardent quest to find a nightclub that was open on a Bank Holiday. We had no luck. Everywhere decent place was closed and every kip was full. Roll on New Years Eve.

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“When things go wrong and will not come right, though you do the best you can, when life looks black as the hour of night, a pint of plain is your only man”

It could barely have been foreseen that something that started as an excuse for a pub crawl on a slow Sunday afternoon could turn into a day of good banter and storytelling, traversing the spots that thousands and millions of weary travelers have trod before and ultimately in the conception of this Blog. Five pubs in one day, it’s not a hard thing in Dublin City, it‘s near impossible to get from A to B without passing at least one watering hole. It’s not exactly a cultural experiment either; it’s the sort of thing you do every weekend anyways without thinking about it. It’s only when you plot the five pubs beforehand, the nature and character of those five pubs and go there with the idea of having the craic while critiquing the place at the same time, drinking decent pints whilst judging them, and singing a few songs and telling a few tales in between. Then it becomes cultural.

So that’s what we did on the first Sunday in September. Five pubs were chosen and five brave warriors met in The Long Hall on Georges Street for the first pint of the day. For those of you who have never been in the Long Hall, it’s an unusual pub, decorated with early 20th Century trappings, rich shag carpets and wood panelling. The pint is bloody gorgeous too, if a little on the soft side.

The Long Hall: photo by Flickr user inaki_naiz. Used under a Creative Commons License.

It’s the kind of pub that is full of shirt bedecked office workers on a Friday evening but on a Sunday afternoon, the crowd was sparse. Not that we were giving out. And in a welcome development, though most pubs we had walked past to get here had ‘de football’ (English of course) blaring at full volume, the telly wasn’t even switched on here and the music was down low. A grand spot for a bit of natter; and during the natter we find out it’s a pub with a bit of history too – Ever seen the video for Thin Lizzy’s “Old Town?” Well the bar the lads are propping up is none other than the one in The Long Hall! So a quick toast to Phil and the boys and we were out the door, the barman giving us a shout of Slán as we left. Not too many places you get that either.

So next up was McDaids, just off Grafton Street. We didn’t stay long, as the barman gruffly demanded ID off each of us (I haven’t been asked for ID in five years or so… I didn’t know whether to be happy or angry) and then only begrudgingly asked what we wanted. The Chelsea Vs. Liverpool game was blaring and we decided it wasn’t worth it. Maybe the barman was a Liverpool fan (they were losing 2-0) or we just caught the place on a bad day because I genuinely like this pub; just definitely not that Sunday. As a change of plan, we headed for Kehoes, just the far side of Grafton Street. We found a nice quiet spot upstairs in the side room adjoining the Upstairs bar.

Kehoes: photo by Flickr user boggerthelogger. Used under a Creative Commons License.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of scooping in Kehoes, the upstairs bar is basically the living quarters of John Kehoe (long since passed away ) transformed by sticking a counter and some taps in it. It’s like drinking in your grannies sitting room. The old pictures adorning the wall were the source of many anecdotes as Pearse, Connolly and Heuston were debated and dissected. They say you should never talk politics or religion in a pub. It was a bit difficult in this place… With pictures of the 50th anniversary of the rising on one wall and Bono on the other! The pint was nice and cold, the head stayed white and the glass was left with the magic seven rings; always a good sign in my book. So with a few pints on us we headed on towards The Dawson Lounge.

The Dawson Lounge’s claim to fame is that it’s Dublin’s smallest pub. With two other groups of five or so in the place, there was not a stool to be had. We were disappointed to find out we couldn’t collect a Guinness 250 beermat commemorating this place but then again, it’d be hard to paint a picture of the place, what with there just being a door and a tiny hanging sign above it!

Dawson Lounge: photo from dublin-in-pictures.blogspot.com

Not much you can say about this place, great pint, nice and snug, the kind of place you’d love to step into on a cold and wet day to read the paper or watch the news over a pint of plain. And don’t be dissuaded by the shortness of the review for this place; sure don’t they say it’s not the size that counts.

The next pub was to be Toners on Baggot Street, a great little boozer this, one of my secret hideaways- the kind of place where you can happily sit in the corner with a pint and a book and not be disturbed by anyone except the barman asking if you want another pint! We were greeted cheerily as we entered and we were glad to get in out of the cold and get a much-anticipated pint. I can’t recommend this pub enough; nice and snug, a great pint and a pub with a great history, frequented by Behan and O’Brien as it was.

Toners: photo by Flickr user Mr Pauly D. Used under a Creative Commons License.

I was sad to leave but we were nearing the summit of our challenge, and the cream of the crop. I think we peaked too early by deciding to include Mulligans of Poolbeg Street in our first five pubs for it truly is one of the best pints in the city. There is nothing polished about this pub, it’s old Dublin, (very old Dublin, the place was established in 1732;) rough and ready. Bare wood floors and nicotine scarred walls, but genuine and welcoming at the same time, far from the super pubs Dublin has come to know and despise. A great place for a bit of banter, the pub was well populated with young and old, bent over pints,  chatting, laughing and slagging. A smashing pint aswell, and that makes all the difference.

Mulligans: photo by Flickr user Diego

We forgot ourselves here and indulged in a few more than we originally meant, but it was hard not to and besides, this was to be the end of our road for this week, and the end of the first chapter in a story I hope we endeavour to keep going. Pints, mates and the craic, what more could you ask for?

September’s five pubs were:
1. The Long Hall, Georges Street, Dublin 2.
2. John Kehoe’s, 9 South Anne’s Street, Dublin 2.
3. The Dawson Lounge, 25 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
4. Toner’s, 139 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2.
5. Mulligan’s, 8 Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2.

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