The Stag's Head

1 Dame Court, Dublin

Part of the fun of going to the Stag's Head for the first time is finding it, hidden away as it is in the heart of the city centre. Walk up Dame Street, Dublin's principal commercial and insurance street, keeping an alert eye out for a passageway indicated in the pavement by a mosaic image of the stag's head. Duck through to cobblestoned Dame Court, where you'll discover a red-brick Victorian building complete with bottleglass windows and scrolled doorway. It looks very much the tavern of old etchings, as well it might; it has remained unchanged since it began serving Dubliners in 1890.

Inside is a delightfully warm atmosphere, all old leather, polished wood and ornate brass. The original stained-glass windows shed a gentle light, each sporting a stag's head at the centre of a leafy scroll. The bar is very typical of Dublin. It is one of the long type (mahogany capped with red Connemara marble), with its length neatly punctuated by exquisite partitions.

Above the bar, mildly surveying his domain, is the proud namesake of the place - a seven-point stag's head. The Victorian smoking room at the end of the bar is lit with a skylight and is now used as a luncheon bar.

One of the main attractions of the place is the excellence of its food and drink, and its menu chalked up daily for the crowds of lunchtime habitu's who flood in from the surrounding offices and nearby Dublin Stock Exchange. (a tip: if you're lunching here make sure to arrive a few minutes before noon or just before 2:00pm, or you're like to have a long wait).

Downstairs sometimes holds an evening of traditional and not-so-traditional balladeering. You'll find that the crowd is refreshing, only a smattering of tourists among a large number of Irish young people who know most of the songs and who sing along in high good humour. The atmosphere is spirited (pun intended), with audience and entertainers exchanging jokes and friendly jibes. Everyone talks to everyone, and you might even be invited home to a further singsong.

You can find The Stag's Head at 1 Dame's Court Dublin

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