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Posts Tagged ‘The Chancery’

The market workers of Dublin and others like them knew a very different city from the average worker in the capital today. Before the first bus even rolls through the suburbs now, these workers were often at the end of their workday. Early house pubs opened their doors from about 7am, and it wasn’t unusual to spot a mix of tired workers and those returning from more enjoyable nights in the capital seizing the opportunity presented for a pint.

Alas, the fruit markets are no more in all truth. The docks are quieter now too. Yet Dublin retains a few early house pubs dotted around the city, and this suggests business remained strong long after the shutters came down on some markets for the last time. Amazingly, I’ve never been to one. A 2008 Irish Times report suggested 15 such pubs remain in the capital. Since 1962, no new pubs have been added to the list. They’re a dying breed.

The Chancery.

The Chancery is located right by the Four Courts. By sheer coincidence, we’re coming to it from the direction of Smithfield, an area much changed since the time the markets flourished there. Beautiful apartment complexes, an art-house cinema and the sort dot Smithfield today. The Cobblestone remains, the horses long gone.

Arriving at the door of The Chancery at the early hour of 8am, the first thing you notice are two bouncers on the door. While at first one can be worried by the sight of a bouncer, on second thoughts it can be reassuring. They keep an eye on proceedings, but there is no trouble in the time we’re here. We pass them on the way in, give ‘the nod’, and with it clear we’re in decent condition on entering the place, we don’t hear/see them again, until ‘the nod’ is given again on the way out.

The pints of Guinness are more than decent, and we remark that it’s interesting they can pull a decent pint here at 8am when we’ve seen ‘one pour pints’ chucked out in fancier boozers across the city on Friday nights. On the subject of Friday nights, there appear to be a few other survivors dotted around this place. The milkman? The market worker? No sign of them but.

The ‘locals’, or the people sitting across the bar talking to the barman and each other, are a mixed bunch. With the sun up, this might as well be 3pm in any Dublin pub. One annoyance that hits you on entering the place however is the jukebox. Is there a need for a jukebox to be blaring music at half eight in the morning?

I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.
I’m gonna send him to outer space. To find another race.

I love the song too, but it’s half eight in the morning. Turn it down, or turn it off. The arrival of The Wild Rover leads one of our party to a semi-audible “for fucks sake…” that thankfully goes unnoticed. Somewhere in the world it’s a suitable time to play this stuff, lets be quiet and drink to them.

The early house is clean, and the pubs layout is perfectly fine. What surprises me is the number of people here. I remember a friend telling me you could never open a Wetherspoons in Ireland because “we can’t be trusted to drink sensibly”. Maybe there’s an element of truth in that. In the time we’re here, with the exception of one eejit and his unwanted and unimpressive rendition of ‘The Boys Of The Old Brigade’, we see nothing too out of the ordinary or worrying. We even remark a return visit in the future isn’t an impossible scenario.

So, who does drink at 8am? A much more varied bunch than I expected. On leaving, we do a quick turn and head towards town, and I spot people getting off the 25A bus for work. Getting on the same bus home, there is a distinct lack of market workers, milkmen or dockers. The Chancery is not going to make its way into any ‘Top 50 Pubs In Dublin’ list, and it’s not brimming with the sort of unique character that does see pubs make such lists, but it’s not the hellish boozer some may think looking down on it from the double-decker bus to work. Judging on the crowd inside it, at a time I wouldn’t normally have risen yet, it’ll be here a while longer yet.

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