Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Alternative Pub Crawl of Dublin

Quiet please....

This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list - the ideal watering hole is far too elusive and subjective a thing for that.

My intention here is to highlight a few of those fine imbiberies that exist from day to day --and have done so for years - untroubled by the glaring spotlight of tourist trade magazines, unphased by the fickle and ever-shifting tastes of the hungry trend followers, simply serving good beer in a comfortable, unpretentious environment.

If your tastes lean to the quiet solitary pint of fresh Guinness, taken at your leisure and without the least inclination to look at your watch or to consider, even playfully, a possible plan of action following the inevitable draining of the oh so inviting glass before you, then you'll find a few imbiberies here for you.

If on the other hand you enjoy the lively, eclectic, late night banter so often engaged in by those fine men and women who "reach contentment before capacity", and, loosened somewhat from the tethers of social etiquette, soar in their newly-donned garb of behavioral and verbal eloquence, then you may find a port of call to raise your interest.

This list includes some of Dublin's finest pubs that you won't find in the in-flight magazines.

I call it a "Pub Crawl" because I've tried to map out a convenient walking route between each drinking emporium where possible. it has to be said, though, that as the list grew, it became clear that to complete the full route in a day would involve a "Pub Sprint" and to have an alcoholic beverage in each port of call would certainly have to invite the title "Pub-icide".

So, without any further blathering, the list ( a work in progress).

Slattery's - Rathmines Rd

Although a little bit outside the metropolitan area, Slattery's is smack dab in the heart of renter's mecca, and as such is a haven for students. The atmosphere reflects a hip young city without any trappings of self conciousness. Large bright windows look out onto the busy street while dark secluded corners invite the hopelessly romantic as well as the leglessly drunk. Good people watching for the lone explorer, or if you're in company, a comfortable place for a chat and a pint.

I can vouch for it as a good early evening and night time bar.

An Poc Fada ( pronounced "On Puck Fodda")

Again a good night time bar in my experience, attracting a fairly eclectic mix of students, young professionals, old amateurs, musicians, soccer fans and a little bit of everything in between.

A pretty busy bar, nice to drop in on a night out.

JJ Smyth's

JJ's, for me, is at the other end of the spectrum, although not exclusively.

Suffice to say that sitting at the bar or at one of the modest tables and watching the grey daylight lazily stretching through frosted glass windows and lightly touching the nicotine yellow ceiling, with only one's own thoughts and a full-bodied, cool pint of Stout to bear witness,'ll do things to you.

On the rare occasion when I stopped in at night, it was lively and friendly with an older crowd of regulars. All in all, very pleasant.

The Long Haul

A picture of quiet, dignified elegance on the busy congested thoroughfare that is George's St, The Long Haul boasts an outer facade from a different time, and on entering, it becomes clear that the implied promise of elegance is no idle boast - a luxuriantly long mahogany bar meets you at your right and draws your eye through a corridor of red leather seats and deep persian-style carpet, reaching almost to the far wall. The bar staff are pleasant and professional, and the beer is the icing on the cake.

It's no wonder that such a place would attract an eclectic crowd of talkers, listeners, thinkers, drinkers, curious people and people that are curious, and on any given night there's a fair chance you might fall in love, get in an argument, meet your new best friend, lose your wallet, take up smoking, give up smoking, find your wallet or forget to call a cab.


Whelans is mostly recognised as a music venue, but the front bar, seperate from the stage area, has a nice relaxed feel with low lighting and wooden benches and a decent lunch menu.

Check back here for more fine dublin bars to be added.....

Christmas in St Louis

Barb's shower could take the head off a chicken, but it was welcome after an hour of yoga, especially on a body that was hitherto only used to the elbow yoga of my beer-fuelled youth.

I was that chicken

But it was the day after christmas ,and time to herald in a new year - "out with the old , in with the new" and all that kind of thing, although i would prefer if the phrase went " try a few things and if you like one , good."

The Barb in question is my girlfriend's mother. I was spending the holidays with her family in St Louis, Missouri because some work commitments held me in the United States. Otherwise I would probably be at home with my parents in Ireland in my hometown.
But more of that later....

St. Louis

St Louis is one of those towns that doesn’t offer itself up too easily- if you come to town just to follow your nose and see what you find, you’ll probably just find your nose.

St Louis treasures are hidden, mostly by random stretches of highway that supposedly link the places you can’t find. But if you get talking to the locals and you feel like asking their opinion on what’s cool to do in this ‘burg, you may well find yourself struggling with what to do first, what to leave til tomorrow, when to find time to sleep.

St Louis boast two extremely obvious landmarks; the St Louis Arch (see above) and Busch Stadium, both almost side by side, and both worth a look.
The Arch is arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing city landmarks on the map.
Although I have been known to mockingly refer to St Louis as “The only city with a handle”, I gotta say the arch warrants respect, a masterpiece of design that instantly identifies the St Louis skyline.

As for the stadium, well, I’ve heard the city described by locals as ‘a drinking town with a baseball problem”, and Busch stadium is the coliseum where st louis pride begins battle every april.


So there's the big two, but if you're going, check out Blueberry Hill, the bars and eateries of the Soulard neighborhood (check out McGurk's), the Fox Theater, the St Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, Moolah, the butterfly house..... the list is endless, and a far cry from my hometown and the Chrsitmas i missed.......

(drunk in) Mitchelstown

Mitchelstown, the site of my aforementioned beer-fuelled youth, and had i spent Christmas there instead of St Louis, I would probably have spent it probably reliving some of the advanced elbow-yoga moves that I and my friends perfected during those formative years, the training ground for such moves being any one of 30 bars within spitting distance of each other.

With a town population of 5,000, that works out at 166 and two thirds of a citizen to each bar. By the end of any given weekend night , the citizen comprised of only two thirds was clearly visible. With none of the tedious trappings of sobriety to inhibit their behavioral nuances, they easily earned the title from other revelers as being "not all there".

The females amongst the "not all there", generally looked like baby giraffes learning how to walk, while the males roughly resembled baby elephants, determinedly marching forward, depending mostly on their own body weight leaning forward with each step, while occasionally tripping on there own trunks.
One other peculiarity of the male is that their earlier attraction to the opposite sex has been replaced by a burning desire for baby giraffes that are learning to walk.

A town not with out it's charms and points of interest (check out the Caves), nestled as it is in the foothills of the Galtee Mountain,and surrounded by some the richest pasture lands in Ireland.


......not to mention being recognsed as one of Ireland's best planned towns....

.....turn left at the church , walk fifty yards and you're at my house.

Click here for more info about the ol' homestead