Barfly: The Palace Bar
21 Fleet Street, Dublin 2. Telephone: O1 6717388
As we're about to cross the threshold of The Palace bar, a chipper Dub straight from the Roddy Doyle book of central casting pops up, seemingly from nowhere.
"Don't go in there," he jokes. "That's a bad shop."
What he's trying to say, we think, is that The Palace is the kind of pub where, once settled with a pint and a packet of Tayto crisps, you may find it difficult to uproot yourself. Certainly that's the impression created by the clientele on this sleepy afternoon. In the dimly lit lounge at the back, two men pore over papers, half-finished pints of stout to one side.
At the mahogany bar, meanwhile, some older gents are staring into space, looking as if they're perpetually on the brink of saying something profound. Stood to one side, the barman, arms folded, is holding court in a way that barmen generally don't nowadays.
Located on the brink of Temple Bar, The Palace (established in 1843) inevitably catches some of the tourist backwash. Presumably, they are drawn by the promise of a 'real' Irish drinking experience. What they, in fact, get is a cross between a sleepy rural bar and a busy after-work drinking spot. A plaque set among the whiskey bottles sums up the ethos: "A bird is known by its song, a man by his conversation."