Take 10: Old Dublin pubs
Published 21/03/2009 | 00:00
Okay, it's thronged at weekends, banging your head en route to the gents is a rite of passage, and the staircases feel like an Escher painting -- but it all hangs together, and the wait at Kehoe's is never too long for a pint. A pricey change of hands in the Nineties led The Dubliner to hail it "an old man's bar for the kids", but time has gifted this old gem the last laugh.
Details: 9 South Anne Street. Tel: 01-677 8312.
2 Doheny and Nesbitt
Known as the Doheny & Nesbitt School of Economics for the stout wind issuing from the journalists, civil servants and legal eagles who frequent it, this is a Dublin classic. It consists of a blinding maze of rooms, countless snugs and partitions and a much-photographed façade, but it's not all yesteryear. The Baggot Street set swears by its unadulterated carvery lunches.
Details: 5 Lower Baggot Street. Tel: 01-676 2945.
3 The Long Hall
Enter The Long Hall and your eye is drawn along a bar stocked with punters rather than clientele, if you know what we mean. Lanterns, muskets and the fact that Phil Lynott shot a video here add to the randomness of it all. An antique clock forms the arch between bar and lounge, and the carpet looks like it's taken more abuse than Shane McGowan. Faded grandeur that can't be bought.
Details: 51 South Great George's Street. Tel: 01-475 1590.
Grogan's feels like a time machine. Randomly pitched on Dublin's hippest intersection, boasting an interior that appears stolen from a Seventies props truck and populated by what could be the cast of Lost, it was once described as "like anyone's sitting room". Who that 'anyone' might be remains a mystery, but to regulars that's the whole point.
Details: 15 South William Street.
Tel: 01-677 9320.
5 The Palace
Although established in 1843, the Palace best evokes the drunken eloquence of mid-20th century Dublin. A sketch in the back lounge numbers the luminaries (Flann O'Brien, Patrick Kavanagh et al) who plied their wit here, though you need to get in early for a pew. The Palace is a prince amongst pubs; timeless (NB: that includes the toilets) and elegant.
Details: 21 Fleet Street. Tel: 01-677 9290.
Toner's is said to have been the only Irish pub visited by WB Yeats. Brought here by Oliver St John Gogarty, the story goes, the poet downed a sherry and delivered his judgement: "I don't like it. Lead me out again." The modern Toner's is wonderfully preserved, from old-school, waist-high counters to dispensary drawers -- so you'd have to say that Yeats would be equally unimpressed today.
Details: 139 Lower Baggot Street.
Tel: 01-676 3090.
Legend has it that RM Smyllie once ventured to McDaid's to see what all the fuss was about. He found Brendan Behan on a table singing I was Lady Chatterley's Lover and Gainor Christ beside him being sick into someone's pint. If a pub's literary credentials come any thicker, I'd like to know. Smyllie left, the literati stayed, and a healthy hum of locals and tourists completes the contemporary mix.
Details: 3 Harry Street. Tel: 01-679 4395.
Despite what folk at Davy Byrne's might tell you, Mulligan's is the best Joycean pub in Dublin. "They were all beginning to feel mellow," as the author writes in Dubliners, and you can see what he means. The Guinness is great, the chat loud and there ain't a food menu in sight. Add the fact that Mulligan's was once raided by the Black and Tans, and you're only beginning to tap into its pedigree.
Details: 8 Poolbeg Street. Tel: 01-677 5582.
"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you," as F Scott Fitzgerald said. Whether it's in the weirdly comforting upstairs lounge or the panelled Edwardian bar below, Neary's invites you into an evening of conversation. Imbibers are a smooth mix of city-workers, Chatham Street diners and the Gaiety post-theatre crowd.
Details: 1 Chatham Street. Tel: 01-677 8596.
10 The Stag's Head
Centred on a Connemara marble surface and watched over by the eponymous stuffed beast, The Stag's Head's main bar is a vessel of Victoriana. Patrons include a mix of Trinity students, stockbrokers and miscellaneous blow-ins. All are equal at the Stag's, however. It's rumoured that even Quentin Tarantino was once refused for pulling rank.
Details: 1 Dame Court. Tel: 01-679 3701.
Pól is the author of Bar Secrets Dublin (deckofsecrets.com)