22 Dec Lucky Layover: Three Pubs in Dublin
On my merry way to the USA I enjoy a pint or five during my layover in Dublin. Three bars, two new friends and one great party city, this is the story of my 16 hours in the Irish capital:
The moment the plane touches down in Dublin, I instantly feel better. Looking out onto the tarmac, I comfort myself with the idea that somewhere out there, a pint is being served.
After a little Internet digging, I find Hacienda – an “underground” pub that selectively admits its clientele, has a couple billiards tables and apparently housed Matthew McConaughey for a couple weeks. The challenge of getting into this local appeals me, so I finish my lamb liver, crispy bacon and fresh smoked salmon and make a beeline to the pub.
I fast walk through the foggy streets. Less for the cold ( a nippy 4 °C) and more because it’s been two hours in Dublin and I haven’t had a pint of Guinness yet.
Ringing the bell of the pub, a white-haired, older man emerges, seemingly out of the 70’s. He’s dressed in a mismatched suit, sporting checkered pants and wears a suspicious look on this face.
“Where are you from?”
“What are you doing in Dublin?”
I explain I’m here for a round of pool and a pint. Before I know it, I pass Dublin’s take on the Berghain door policy and walk on in.
Old school maritime décor and longing 80’s tracks. Photos of the owner posing with celebrities covering the back wall. A bar so packed with so many objects and taps that it’s difficult to see the bartender. Then at last, my first pint of full-bodied, creamy and gloriously Irish Guinness is in hand.
Like a teacher presenting the new kid to the school yard, I am brought to the billiards table and introduced. Thus I meet Dave and Dave – two mates with the same name enjoying pints and a game. We hit it off and decide to leave the Hacienda time capsule and enter the night.
The next pub is called Sin É (pronounced Shee-nay) right next to the River Liffey. We clamber down to the basement, spilling the tops off our pints of cloudy cider along the way.
What we find is a full-blown bluegrass band. A bass, acoustic guitars, a slide guitar, and a banjo made up the jam. We remove our jackets in the warmth of the pub and pull up chairs next to the stage. The musicians look the part – flannel shirts, leather boots and good repertoires of bluesy southern music.
Standing outside the pub I look at the watch and begin reasoning an early night. In my past exploits, connecting flights have been missed, so I give the Dave’s the poor excuse of my flight being next day. Taller Dave looks at me and tells me the next bar isn’t far at all and it’s only open until 2:30 anyways.
In the words of Oscar Wilde: “I can resist everything except temptation”.
Down the stairs we go into a place called UKIYO, dubbed “the best little house party in Dublin”. There is a large room full of frothing, Tuesday night, professional alcohol consumers and a DJ playing a nice vinyl house set. Broken glass. General euphoria. Ah yes, many more pints are drunk.
As the night goes on, I end up outlasting the Dave’s. We step out the pub together, give thanks for the good times and part ways. Taking off in the other direction and crossing the misty River Liffey, I take notice that it doesn’t feel as cold anymore.
Words by: Luc John Claude