The people, places and things that make Dublin special.

One of the reassuring signs of an economy in recovery is the proliferance of new bars and eateries in town. The microcosm of South Great George’s Street, moving into Aungier, Wexford and Camden Street is a good example. Recent months have seen several new venues pop up, and already they seem like they’ve always been part of the (shabby-chic) furniture – places such as the achingly hip Chelsea Drug Store, JT Pims and a brasserie-style extension to L’Gueuleton restaurant, which doesn’t seem to have a name of it’s’ own and is simply signposted as ‘Bar’.

Of course with greater choice comes greater difficulty for Dublin pub-goers in terms of deciding on where to go for a drink. Option paralysis, AKA the inability to settle on somewhere is rife. But this is why Georgian gem The Long Hall comes into its own. It wouldn’t be correct to call this old-school Dublin bar a crowd-pleaser – not if your crowd wants Asian fusion food, a cocktail menu or sports on the big screen – but it offers a constant of friendliness, low-key warmth and carpeted floors (!) in a hard and shiny world. What’s more, the lighting makes everybody look more attractive, irrespective of beer goggles. It’s a place where you could go with your da, and it’s where Bruce Springsteen likes to go for a pint when he’s in town, following in the hallowed footsteps of Brendan Behan, who was a regular and Phil Lynott who filmed some of his video for ‘Old Town’ here.

Phil Lynott - Old Town

Phil Lynott's Old Town music video in all its glory.

For history and architecture buffs, the Long Hall is a rich source of pleasure. There was a licence on the site as far back as 1776, and in 1830 one Henry Mailey and his son Hezekiah had a tavern here, until Hezekiah’s death in 1885, when his widow Sarah took over. In the 1860s, it was reportedly a hotbed of Fenian activity; the failed Fenian rising of 1867 was planned here, and the pub was eventually closed after British agents infiltrated it. It would change hands several times before current owner Marcus Houlihan took over, but arguably the most significant boss was Patrick Dolan, who in 1881 completed the Victorian renovation that remains intact today.

Décor-wise, think handcrafted wood carvings, bevelled glass, a mahogany back bar and exquisite fittings. Unusually for a Victorian bar, it boasts plenty of mirrors, partly to create the illusion of a bigger space, but also to poke fun at the conservatism of Victorian-era values. You may not get a seat on a Friday night, but you’ll never have to wait long to get served. For the optimal Long Hall experience, try it on a weekday afternoon, with only two or three other punters and a cosy womb-like atmosphere.

The Long Hall proprietors like to say that very little has changed here since Patrick Dolan’s time, 130 years ago. Long may it remain so.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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