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J Mc Neills: Traditional music pub and more...
I came across this interesting traditional pub, early Monday evening. I was hoping to hear some traditional live music (away from the tourist type bars).
This was originally a music shop, that specialised in selling and repairing traditional Irish musical instruments. The repair shop is still in operation on the upper floor. If you look at the pub sign hanging outside (pic 1), it says " J Mc Neill Pub Music Shop. In the window is a display of musical instruments. This business was established in 1834. Th old fashioned front of the shop is complete contrast to its neighbour - The 'Barbie pink' sex shop - 'Good Vibrations'!! (pic 3)
A framed newspaper article in the window of Mc Neills stated that there was live music each night. This is the kind of place where people just walk in with their instruments and play, others join in playing or singing.
Well it was a bit early, but I decided to go in. The place was empty apart from the barman, standing behind the dark wood bar that dominated the small narrow front room. I ordered a half pint of Guinness and took a seat near the fireplace. A notice above the fire stated that this area was for the use of musicians, and that anyone else sitting here might be asked to move. Well as there wasn't anyone else in here I stayed put. The bar is quite traditionally (and authentically) furnished and decorated. (I'm afraid that my photographs are too dark to see clearly). The bar man also wore the waistcoat and tie, that is the uniform seen in Irish pubs
On the wall opposite was a large etched mirror, advertising D.W.D. (Dublin Whisky Distillery) 10 year old Whisky. This was illuminated by 2 old glass lamps.
The old fireplace was quite ornate. There wasn't a fire in the grate, but I'm sure there would be in the cold winter. There was a fire screen and coal scuttle in front of the fire.
Off this room was a corridor, with another small room. Toilets are up a flight of stairs. There is another Toilet outside in the small enclosed 'Smokers Yard' where there are stools and barrels used as tables. This was quite a pleasant area.
There was no sign of any musicians, and there had been less than a handful of customers. I ordered another Guinness and asked if there would be music later. I was told that it's mainly later in the week and the weekend. I was a bit disappointed, but I'd enjoyed a sit down with a Guinness, with some peace and quiet - It had been a long day (I'd spent most of it exploring Howth) so set off back to my hostel (Calling in for a nightcap at O'Sheas hotel-where there was Live Music )
Hopefully, I'll return here one day, when there is Live Music.
Dress Code: Casual.
- Beer Tasting
- Budget Travel
O'Sheas Hotel: Traditional Pub with Live Music
O'Sheas is located in a Georgian building. It is"An institution in the city, renowned for its traditional Irish music & set dancing"
It was Traditional Irish Music 'Pub of the Year 2003' and received an Award for being A Traditional Irish Music bar in 2006. These awards are displayed outside (pic 2)
I visited this bar a couple of times during my weekend stay, as it was at the end of the street, where my hostel was located, and being a hotel had a late bar (which was still open after I'd arrived back from the Saturday nights Bruce Springsteen concert. - I wasn't so lucky on the Sunday night, when the bar closes earlier, but I nipped in again on the Monday for a nightcap and more live music).
The Traditional dark wooden bar is located in the hotels basement. It is divided into different areas, with seating and tables. Food is served here - traditional and International dishes, from Breakfast until evening. There is an extensive menu displayed outside (pic 2)
On the Saturday night, there was a lively atmosphere. It was quite busy, but not too crowded- i.e you could get served easily, and you could walk to a table with your drink intact!
I ordered a pint of Guinness, and found a spot where I could enjoy the live music and 'people watch' A duo were singing traditional Irish and folk songs, accompanied by their fiddle and guitar. A group of friends and family? of different generations were enjoying their night out, dancing, singing and laughing.
I spent some time chatting to a Dutch couple who'd been to the Springsteen concert too.
On the Monday night, again there was live music from a man playing guitar, and a young girl playing Violin/fiddle. They were very good too. Again, there was a good atmosphere.
I felt quite comfortable here by myself.
This hotel bar, maintains an authentic traditional atmosphere, which is popular with locals- elderly men sitting at the bar, families and friends sitting at tables or standing chatting.
Mainly 30+ age range.
Dress Code: Casual to casual smart - Some of the locals were dressed up for their night out, others were in jeans, t-shirts, jumpers.
Waterproof Jackets/ Umbrellas were in evidence- Dublin was enjoying a rainy weekend - There had been a few torrential downpours!
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Traditional Pubs: Literary Pub Crawl
I confess that I have not read many books by Irish authors and those I have read, like "Angela's Ashes", "Round Ireland with a Fridge" and anything by Roddy Doyle aren't typically referred to by the word literature. But I read my friend Isa's (Jefie) review and thought it sounded like fun so I decided to head over on my first night in Dublin.
I got to Duke's Pub at about 7:20pm and the organizer said to have a seat at the bar, they might not have enough room for me. They ended up running two tours that night, one group of about 40 and our group of 22. You stop at four pubs along the way including Duke's with at least enough time for a drink, my favorite stop was O'Neill's, a massive pub with all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies. I don't remember the name of the next pub we stopped at, I struck up a conversation with some folks from Cork and never got around to ordering a drink! The final stop was in front of Davy Byrne's where we had a quiz and one lucky person won a pub crawl tshirt.
In between the drinking, the two actors hosting the tour tell stories and perform works by famous Irish writers such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. It was a highly entertaining evening and never fear, you needn't try to digest "Ulysses" in order to enjoy this tour.
In order to avoid disappointment, you may want to reserve in advance. You can book at the tourism office or book online, I found a 1€ discount coupon at the tourism office inside a Dublin guide, you might be able to use it if booking at the tourism office. The price was 12€, 11€ with the discount.
Dress Code: Comfortable shoes and an umbrella
Traditional Pubs: Brazen Head
Brazen Head was our first stop at a Dublin Pub. We happened upon on during our walking tour through the city. While it is worth a visit as the oldest pub in the city, it is also worth a visit just for the atmosphere. We also had lunch here and our first Dublin Guinness.
Traditional Pubs: O'Donoghue's
This was one of the local pubs that was recommended by local VT'ers. It was a small place that also had sitting in an alleyway outside. When we arrived the after work crowd had the outside seating taken, so we went inside to enjoy the live music. People were very friendly and the atmosphere was great. We got there a little late to get a seat inside, so we didn't stay as long was we would have. The music was great and it is well worth a visit.
Traditional Pubs: Bowes Lounge on a Sunday Night
Despite all the modern developments around the city Dublin is still well-blessed with some cracking proper pubs - the pubs being on pretty much the same level of sanctification as the churches.
As I walked past late-ish on a Sunday evening my beer nose told me that Bowes, tucked away slightly off-the-beaten-path at the College Street end of Fleet Street, would be a "John Pub" and so it was! The pub dates from the 19th Century and still has its original fittings. The long wooden bar with its row of bar stools has stained-glass dividers which create smaller more intimate areas, the walls are dark wood-panelled but with plenty of mirrors to prevent the place appearing gloomy and the banquette seating creates individual spaces which are ideal for small groups.
Service is Dublin-friendly, the locals chatty and the Guinness as good as it gets (and slghtly cheaper than most). The pub is open from Midday till Late, 7 days a week and serves bar food all day.
Sunday night is music night which attracts some serious traditional musicians and the bar fills with mostly local afficiandos. On my only visit the music was great (none of the kitschy stuff designed solely for the tourists), the atmosphere relaxed and just generally good craic - well worth seeking out!
Dress Code: Don't be silly - this is a proper pub! But as always scantily-clad women are appreciated .p
- Beer Tasting
Flannerys Bar: Meet the locals
I couldn't remember the name of this pub till today (13/09/08). This is a traditional irish pub where you can actually meet Irish people and drink and dance with them ;) I really enjoyed this pub for its relaxed atmosphere and good music as well.
Dress Code: No dress code but dress nicely and DON'T wear anything underneath your shirt cause it looks so bad!! And sorry but many Irish guys do that.. we Italians just don't :-)
Traditional Pubs: Oldest Dublin Pub
I think this was the Brazen Head, if I remember right! This pub is known for its live traditional Irish music. Of course, the drink and food draws people, also! The small room was crowded the night we went but we each found a seat. The musicians played nonstop & were really good. Each took a turn doing the vocal part, going around in a circle to take their turn, over & over. The beer was great, too!
Dress Code: casual
- Beer Tasting
Cat and Cage: Cat and Cage
Well this is my kind of pub. Its out of town in a neighborhood and as such has cheaper pricing than most of those we frequented during this trip.
The food was only so so here but I'd still come back again.
Has a real local feeling and honestly made the perfect place for a last drink of the evening.
- Beer Tasting
Lord Edwards: Ok place, Poor service
The guy here acted like it was a bother for us to come in. On an evening when it was fairly slow.
Oh well. I had the one, she had none and we moved on.
But it was a nice pub, with some private seats and some open seats making one feel comfortable no matter what they're looking for.
This pub was much of an afterthought in that we were in the area for the fish place and when we left there disappointed I said lets go in the pub.
Traditional Pubs: the duke
the duke is one several literary pubs. these pubs were the hang out of some of dublin's famous writers and poets. these pubs hosted brendan behan, james joyce, patrick o'flaherty, flann o'brien, j.p. donleavy and more. there are guided tours of dublin's literary pubs.
- Beer Tasting
- Historical Travel
Traditional Pubs: Old and Interesting Pubs
With so many pubs to visit in Dublin l will list a few of them that l think are worth a visit.
Another good pub. Best time to go is Saturday afternoon. The pub was made famous by James Joyce when he mentioned it in Ulysses. Attracts all sorts from tourists, locals to eccentrics. A bit over priced for food. On a nice day you can sit outside and people watch.
Duke Street, off Grafton Street.
Doheny & Nesbitt
A very traditional pub that has not changed in decades. Lots of snugs and a good place to go at the weekend. Loud music and plenty of suits.
Lower Baggot Street.
"The Long Hall" this pub dates back to Victorian times. It is full of antiques and has a wonderfully warm atmosphere and your nearly guaranteed a banter with a local person. Very casual pub.
Georges Street off Dame Street.
Dress Code: All very casual except maybe Davy Byrnes at the weekends..
Johnnie Foxes Pub: JFP
Technically not in Dublin, probably in Co Wicklow. Very touristy pub in many, many ways, but for some reason I always enjoy the extreme tweeness. Worth looking around inside, there are lots of posters and general items stuck on the walls and ceilings.
Mulligan's pub: Best pint of guinness in Ireland
Mulligan's is something of a Dublin Institution. It is no-nonsense bar, with an agreeable mix of office workers, locals and a sprinking of tourists. Situated near Tara St Station in Poolbeg street, it is a little off the Temple bar area, but still close to Grafton street.
It is ogten acknowledged that the Guinness pulled here is the finest pint in Irealnd. Talking to the freindly barman, I can lay my finger of two main reasons :
Firstly, the pub sells an enourmous amount of the stuff, so it is always put onto the tap in peak condition.
Secondly, the distance of travel from the keg to the tap is the shortest of just about any pub in the land.
There are tales of those high up in the Guinness company who take a pint or two here and then desperately try to work out why it tastes so good here, even compared to a pint pulled at the brewery itself.
For the Literary types, the pub is also mentioned in such works as 'The Dubliners' and 'Ullysess' by Joyce.
- Beer Tasting
The Royal Oak: Best pub in Dublin
Somehow it seems almost a shame to put this pub here because what makes it so special is its secludedness. Its quiet, its traditonal, it feels like an Irish country pub from the 50's, there is one TV which only seems to be there to keep the bar staff entertained while the pub is empty. As soon as any kind of a crowd (ie. 10 people) come in, then the TV is resolutely turned off.
Dress Code: None. Wear only your wittiest repartee and comfortable shoes.
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