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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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I reckon I should open this piece with a bit of an apology.

Up until this point, whether on pub crawls or Random Drop Inns,  we’ve stuck with pints of plain. We have, article by article, gone some way towards drinking a pint of it in every pub in the city. But we just could not touch a drop of the stuff the day of the crawl, which turned out to be the hottest day of the year in Dublin City Centre; what else could make that day any better only an ice cold pint of cider and a nice perch outside.

This turned out to be the deciding factor in us hitting eight rather than the regular five pubs- not that any of us minded of course, it turned out to be a great day, with a couple of minor irks rather than anything majorly wrong with any of the places we visited. It does leave us with the problem though; How can you judge how good or bad a pint of cider is? Is it cold? Check. Wet? Check. Taste like apples? Check. Every pint is a winner.

The Bull and Castle. By Nathan A, from Flickr

So… Waiting for an exam-laden DFallon to turn up at Christchurch, we ventured into The Bull & Castle on Lord Edward Street. I’ve often passed this place by in favour of its lesser frequented neighbour, The Lord Edward as I’d assumed this Gastro-Pub effort would scorn on people like ourselves looking only for a cold drink and solace from the sun. Thankfully not as the barman dispensed with ciders and beers without a qualm. I’ll be honest and say I was a bit dazzled at first- the pub is quite dark inside, and with a cloudless sky outside, it made it difficult to work out what was what behind the bar. They have a wide range of beers, only to be matched by the Porterhouse I reckon, but none of us was brave enough to venture a try. Nice pub inside, a bit of an olde-worldy feel to it. Very clean also, a must obviously with the place doing a fine trade in grub. But the best thing about the place was the bench outside. I’ve remarked a couple of times this week, and I don’t think I’m off the mark. Dublin in the sun has to be one of the best places on the planet. So perched on a bench, not far away from where the vikings made their mark on this city, with a pint of (relatively expensive at €4.80) cider in hand and the world passing by, I’d have happily stayed there for the evening.

The Legal Eagle. By Infomatique, from Flickr.

But with the arrival of DFallon, we reluctantly gave up our spot and headed across the Liffey to The Legal Eagle, on Chancery Place. Now this pub was a pleasure for a reason- Half Price Sundays! From when doors open at 12:30 on Sunday morning to when they close at an unusual 10pm, everything in the pub sells at half price. This meant an unbeatable €2.20 for a pint, and should we have wanted it, a carvery dinner for €5.50. DFallon tried the Guinness here and said it wasn’t to be faulted but would be following suit in joining us on beer or cider at the next stop such was the heat. The bar was busy enough, I reckon the cheap booze the draw for many. For while it was a nice place, it didn’t set the heart racing and you couldn’t imagine getting comfortable on the hard benches and seats, provided for a quick turnover of diners rather than a slow swell of drinkers- problematic of a lot of pubs selling lunches.

O'Sheas Merchant. By Gianluca 61, from Flickr.

So with that, we upped and out the door, we had miles to go before we slept tonight. Back across the Liffey and into O’Sheas Merchant, on Lower Bridge Street. Cracking pub this. DFallon had been here on a session before, said the doors were closed pretty early and getting out them was prohibited unless you sang a song. Now thats the kind of place I like. It’s a bit of a schizophrenic pub, falling somewhere in between an “old man” spot and a tourist joint. Pint bottles here rather than pints, and a reeling out of the “and its still a pint” line. Images of one of dFallons heroes, Seamus Ennis, adorned the wall, and a member of an Garda Siochana propped up the bar. Off duty of course. A nice pub indeed, one to think about if we’re down this neck of the woods again. We didn’t stick around long here, for while it was nice, the formica tables and blaring telly with the Simpsons on didn’t exactly add to the charisma of the place. Maybe they turn the telly off for the sing- song at seven o’clock or something…

Pifko, from their official site.

So with a few nudges and giggles we made our way to the next spot, Pifko on Ushers’ Quay. This is an odd one. We’ve never been in a pub in Dublin where we were the only Irish people in the place but this was the case with PiFko. Primarily a Czech bar, the place was full of Slovakians watching the Ice Hockey World Cup. We weren’t mad on their “all tables must be reserved” rule; even though there were a number of empty tables, we were forced to stand under the telly. I actually liked the place apart from that, it was a bit of a laugh cheering when Slovakia scored, the whole place went mad. Nice cold pints of Paulaner, cheap at €4. Lovely. Funny looks from everyone else in the pub when we started singing Olé Olé Olé, not so. Was mad to try out the “Beaked Pork Lion” on the menu though. Being made stand while tables sat empty did nothing to entice us to stay so we made our way up to The Liberties and into a pub I’ve passed a million times, The Clock, Thomas Street.

The Clock. By dmckenna, from Flickr.

Not imposing looking from the outside, the place is pretty huge when you walk in, nicely decorated and well laid out. The punters were glued to the box, with “Reeling in the Years” on. As we reached the bar, Packie Bonners save against Romania in Italia 90 (Brilliantly portrayed in this clip from the Van) was on. myself and DFallon were only too delighted, I’ll never get sick of seeing it; The nerves, the save, and those stupid jumps he does afterwards. Pity about his Fianna Fáil connections, he used to be a hero to me! Anyways, we headed out the back to the most unusual smoking area I’ve ever been in. Well it wasn’t the smoking area itself, rather than what inhabited the smoking area- a huge cage containing around fifty twittering and cheeping birds of all shapes and sizes- canaries, budgies, cockateels, even a guinea fowl legging it around in the bottom. Mad stuff. Nice boozer, €4.60 a pint, not to be faulted.

1850's (?) Thomas Street. From Archiseek.

Nows around where it starts to get hazy. Lucky we didn’t have far to go,  only to Bakers of Thomas Street, just across the road. The three pubs we hit around the Liberties all came across as being very much locals spots. It doesn’t help that when we come to these places, more often than not, its only for one or two pints and because of that, its hard to get a proper feel, and a proper welcome from the locals. I liked this place, though Britains Got Talent made it feel less authentic than it might. Again, €4.60 a pint (cold, wet- check) what more could you ask for. A nice pub inside, with low seating, and aging memorabilia adorning the walls. Whilst most of it had seen better times, it kept us interested and deep in discussion.  Onwards drunken soldiers.

Tom Kennedys. Again from the excellent Archiseek.

Tom Kennedys of Thomas Street, right across the road from the Thomas House. What can you say about this place only it was truly terrifying. The walk to the jacks was a scary one, not because the punters were in any way threatening but because Sunday night in Kennedys is Karaoke night. And the MC took a liking to one of our crew, and kept demanding that she come up and sing! Not tonight mate… Again, a locals joint in every sense of the word, the woman behind the bar had the pints on before the locals got to the bar, that sort of place.  The place you might get looks of beleagured astonishment for sitting in “Shielas seat.” Lucky enough, we were well mannered, drank our fill and headed off. I think the pints were €4.50 here, I really need to write them down as I’m doing them. This was JFloods pubcrawl though, so I wasn’t expecting to be doing the write up!

My home away from home... Brogans Bar. By Ester Moliné, from Flickr.

The night could have ended here, but no- We had one more stop to make; Brogans on Dame Street. I really don’t want to write too much about this place because for personal reasons, its my favourite pub in Dublin. Its as close to a local as I’ll get, and is oft frequented by a large crew of my mates. Theres no particular reason its my favourite pub in Dublin, apart from some stories I could tell that you wouldn’t believe. One of the only pubs I can walk into on my own, sit at the bar on my own, order a pint and not feel like a loner/ escaped mental patient/ alcoholic/ all three combined on my own. It really is a scrap between here and Mulligans for the best pint in Dublin, and when I’m drinking it, the Guinness rings in at €4.30. I can’t describe it, just go for a drink here on a sunny afternoon and you’ll see its allure. I’ll stop now!

Right. The hardest write up I’ve ever done, what with a million things coming up between the event itself and me getting a chance to write it up. But it was a great day, amongst the best of the pub crawls we’ve done. Major kudos goes to JFlood for the choices, and to Hammy and Bookie for coming along. Next pints are on me, Sunday fortnight. Give us a shout!

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(Once a month the three writers behind ComeHereToMe, joined by a small group of friends, visit five Dublin pubs and then write about their experiences. A different person each month picks the five pubs and they make sure not to give away any details. What fun.)

January was my month and I had picked the pubs carefully:

• Hartigan’s (For its links to UCD.)
• The Baggott Inn (For its links to Irish rock music history.)
• The Horse show bar in The Shelbourne Hotel (For its sheer beauty and history.)
• The International (For its importance in the history of Irish comedy.)
• Neary’s (For family links. This was the only pub in Dublin my grandmother ever entered ‘because of their sandwiches’.)

Out of the original five, on the day itself, three were closed. For future reference, don’t pick the Sunday after New Year’s Eve for a pub crawl in Dublin City. Things aren’t back to normal yet.

I chose the Royal College of Surgeons at 1 Saint Stephens Green as the meeting point, hoping to throw people off as to where we were going. The location meant that we just as easily could have  made our way down to Camden Street or Dawson. The RSCI is also a building of great historical significance, namely the role it played in the 1916 Easter Rising, as well as the fact that it was built on a old Quaker burial ground.

At 4:32pm approximately, the five us began our January Pub Crawl cautiously making our way across the icy pavements towards Leeson Street, stopping at 68 St. Stephen’s Green, – ‘Newman House’. I announced to the group that this would be our only stop of a historical nature during the day before telling them the story of the Whaley family who built the house, their son Thomas ‘Buck’ Whaley and a dare devil bet involving a horse, a carriage and a first floor window that occurred sometime in the 1780s.

As we turned the corner, I was taken by surprise to see that Hartigan’s was closed. Undaunted by this initial set back, we crossed the road to Hourican’s, the pub that sits directly opposite. This is one of those forgotten pubs, one that thousands of people pass on their bus everyday, but very few venture into. The pub itself was quite pleasant. If I remember correctly, it had a lovely wooden interior decorated with a few more ‘Irish street signs’ and old advertisements than was necessary. The barman was extremely friendly, offering to bring us down our drinks. We had a lovely pint, a chat and then were on our way.

Hourican's. (Flickr user ihourahane)

As I said, I had hoped to bring the gang down to The Baggott Inn next. Though I’ve heard it’s lost all its charm, no one can deny its important connection to the development of Irish punk and new wave in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was not to be. The doors were firmly locked.

So instead we had to skip ahead to The Shelbourne. One of my favourite buildings in Dublin, I don’t think I need to argue its historical significance. The Shelbourne has stood over the Green since 1824 and played an important role in the 1916 Rising and the drafting of the Irish Constitution in 1922, which occurred in Room 112.

The Shelbourne (Kevin O’Sullivan - Pues Occurences)

My favourite historical anecdote about the hotel dates from a little earlier. In 1911, Adolf Hitler’s half brother, Alois Hitler Jr., worked as a waiter in the hotel. During his time in the city, he met a Clondalkin woman called Bridget Dowling. They eloped to London, later having a child called William Patrick “Paddy” Hitler who only passed away in 1987.

William Patrick Hitler's father Alois Hitler was a waiter in The Shelbourne

I had wanted to visit the Horse Shoe bar (rumoured to have been where The Chieftains formed) but unfortunately it was closed. Instead we had to visit the Shelbourne’s new ‘No. 27’ bar. Though by now a clichéd term, it was fitting to mutter “recession, what recession?” while walking through the crowd. With eyes definitely on the five young males who were looking very out of place, we didn’t savor our pretty average pints and were soon making our way out of the revolving doors.

Knowing that I had now one pub extra to add to our tour, I took my uncle’s advice and chose The Bailey. I’ll say more about its history than our visit there. Once a pub of  literary renown, it has been in business since 1837. Charles Parnell was once a regular patron,  as was James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. Later Arthur Griffith was the centre of a group that met there including Oliver St. Gogarty, Seamus O’Sullivan (poet and editor of The Dublin Magazine), Padraic Colum (poet and dramatist) and James Stephens (novelist).

The Bailey, 1971. (c) The Irish Times

In the 1950s, it became the regular haunt of Brendan Behan, Liam O’Flaherty and Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien). At the time, the owner of The Bailey, John Ryan, was an editor and publisher. He was the founding editor of Envoy (1949-51), a “short lived but important” literary magazine. During the first half of the 1970s, he edited the Dublin Magazine and was secretary of the James Joyce Society of Ireland.

“It was also the site of the door of 7 Eccles Street, the home of James Joyce’s protagonist from Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. The door was presented to the pub and publicly unveiled on June 16, 1967, by poet Patrick Kavanagh who had saved it from a renovator’s axe” – Brian Thomsen

In the 1980s, it became the haunt of a whole new generation of poets and writers – Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy, Bono and U2, Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, Philip Chevron and The Radiators from Space and Sinead O’Connor.

Sinead O'Connor with punk outside The Bailey. Photo - Wally.

It has since lost all of its charm. In 1995, the pub was gutted and sold to the Thomas Read Co. while all of its fittings and fixtures “with approximately 140 prints and paintings” were put up for auction. It is now just another upmarket, ‘trendy’ bar.

We moved on to The International at the corner of Wicklow and South William Street. A beautiful pub, it was no surprise to see that there were no seats in the main bar but we more than happy to take our drinks to the cozy basement. The bartender was happy to turn down the blaring music and we chatted away about the weather, the economy and other important matters.

The International Bar © The Chicago Bar Project

Pressing on, we slipped down Coppinger Row across Clarendon Street, onto the lovely Chatham Street and past the two brass hand held glowing lamps into the welcoming door of Neary’s. As I might have guessed by this stage, the superior upstairs part of the pub (The Chatham Lounge) was closed but we were able to find two tables downstairs in a quiet corner at the back of the bar.

Due its close proximity to the Gaiety, it is frequented by figures from the world of theatre. A back door beside the toilets leads to a lane which in turn leads to the back door of the Gaiety itself. The actor Alan Devlin famously used this as a escape route in 1987:

“Perhaps (Devlin’s) finest hour came while he was playing Sir Joseph Porter in the Gaiety Theatre’s 1987 production of HMS Pinafore.

As stage legend has it, Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved operetta was wandering to its predictable conclusion when Devlin turned to the audience, said: “F**k this for a game of soldiers, I’m going home,” and clambered through the orchestra pit, shouting: “Finish it yourself!” and vanished. Still dressed in the flamboyant costume of an admiral, Devlin (scuttled) into Neary’s bar, where he approached the counter, drew his sword and demanded a pint.

And thanks to radio mike technology, the cast and audience in the theatre next door were still able to hear the thespian, ordering a round of drinks and fearlessly critiquing the production he had recently departed.” – Joe O’Shea

By this stage, our conversation was beginning to really flow, as the one pint one pub rule was set aside and a number of friends joined us at this late stage of proceedings.

Albeit with a few hiccups, the ComeHereToMe January Pub Crawl was a success and I look forward to my turn again so I can visit some the pubs that were closed that day. Onwards to February…

January’s five pubs were:
1. Hourican’s, 7 Lower Leeson Street.
2. The Shelbourne, 21 St. Stephen’s Green
3. The Bailey, 2 Duke Street.
4. The International, 23 Wicklow Street.
5. Neary’s, 1 Chatham Street.

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