Doheny's

Dublin

This pub is probably one of the most popular in Dublin for all generations. After you've seen its perfect antique frontage and the polished brass sign advertising TEA AND WINE MERCHANT, it will come as no surprise that the pub is over 130 years old. Passing through swing doors, you find yourself in high-ceilinged early Victorian surroundings.

At night, both front and back rooms are pretty "packed out" and the barmen are studies in the fine art of skilful bartending under pressure.

I was first introduced to Doheny & Nesbitt during the day, when like most Dublin pubs and people, it offers an entirely different face. The feeling is lazy and easy, the barman tending to maintenance, polishing this and that, and there is time and peace for artful conversation.

I went there one morning with one of the finest non-stop raconteurs in Ireland, the admirable writer and chronicler, Benedict Kiely. After a while an American journalist wandered in. He had come to Dublin on a vacation fifteen years earlier and was still there. Immediately the two men became engrossed in a discussion of Irish historical minutiae that left me miles behind. The journalist departed and with just a pause for a sip, Ben flowed easily into the next story.

I do remember the pint-drinkers' club in a certain back room. As initiation you had to drink seventeen pints, one after the other, and then buy a round for everyone in sight. The rules were framed on the wall. Membership was naturally exclusive.

Opening off the back room was a sort of hallway with a blind stairway roofed over to make a larger room above. The great joke was to send a half-tipsy stranger there looking for the Gents and then listen attentively for the thump as he ascended the truncated stairway 'on the road to nowhere' and his head made contact with the ceiling and he came reeling out again. I was a victim once again. The echoes of laughter are with me still.

5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin City

From the Appletree Press title: The Irish Pub Guide.
Also from Appletree: Irish Pub Songs.