South's

Top of O'Connell Street.

This is a timeless old pub with a tranquility akin to what you feel when looking at a painting of a Dutch interior. The floor is checkerboard black-and-white and the partitioned bar a cool white marble. When you sit down, its height is remarkable, reaching to chest level, and your glass is so close to your lips you barely need to raise it.

The wall behind the bar is a Victorian elaboration of curved mahogany arches framing bottles and antique painted mirrors. "John Jameson & Sons Old Malt" proclaims one mirror. Beneath the old-fashioned lettenng are those hallmarks of Ireland: the grey hound, the harp, the castle, and the round tower.

To the side is a snug with walls of milk glass, and on the bulletin board in the rather more casual back room is a photographic roster of star rugby players. Behind this room is the back room, graced with a skylight and hunting tapestries.

I had heard that South's pours the best Guinness in town, and I can certainly recommend it. As I sat at the bar applying my own taste test to the brew, I gazed up at the coffered ceiling and tuned in on the conversation of two old men at a table behind me. It was all place names and family connections:

"John Daly was in yesterday. . ."
"John Daly? Now, would he be from Killarney?"
"No, that's Margaret O'Connor's boy you're tinkin' of."
"Margaret O'Connor? Her father came from Cork. . ." etc., etc.

Note for the non-lrish reader: One of the most common questions a stranger is asked when entering a pub is "Where are ye from?" In Ireland this question is more than just cunosity. Here people identify closely with their home ground: they feel a bond with the corners of Ireland that "reared them up." Finding out where someone comes from is finding out who they are: each family name is associated with a specific region, i.e., O'Flannery with Limerick.

South's can be found at the top of O'Connell Street,
Limerick, Co. Limerick.

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