Exploring one of the best old pubs in Dublin

One sure sign of a flourishing city 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.

In recent years, several new venues have popped up and, already, they seem like they’ve always been part of the (shabby-chic) furniture – places such as the achingly hip J.T. Pim’sThe Chelsea Drug Store and a brasserie-style extension to l’Gueuleton restaurant, which is simply signposted as ‘Bar’ and has come to be known as The Bar With No Name.

Of course, with greater choice comes greater difficulty for Dublin pub-goers in terms of deciding where to go for a drink. Option paralysis, AKA the inability to settle on somewhere, is rife. But this is when The Long Hall comes into its own.

Time stands still at this Victorian gem on George’s Street

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.

However, The Long Hall offers a constant of friendliness, low-key warmth and carpeted floors in a hard and shiny world. It is a reliable remedy for those who can’t decide where to go.

What’s more, the lighting makes everybody look more attractive, irrespective of beer goggles. It’s the kind of place where you can even bring your Da. In fact, this is where Bruce Springsteen likes to go for a pint when he’s in town – before stopping by Leo Burdocks for some chips.

The Boss follows in the hallowed footsteps of famous Dubliners like 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.

The Long Hall’s long history

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. After Hezekiah’s death in 1885, his widow Sarah took over.

In the 1860s, the pub 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.

The Long Hall would change hands several more times before the current owner, Marcus Houlihan, took over. Arguably, however, the most significant boss was Patrick Dolan who, in 1881, completed the Victorian renovation that remains intact today.

Décor-wise, you’ll find handcrafted wood carvings, bevelled glass, a mahogany back bar, elaborate gold leaf and exquisite fittings. Unusually for a Victorian bar, it boasts plenty of mirrors. This is 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 thanks to The Long Hall’s attentive bar staff. For the optimal Long Hall experience, try it on a weekday afternoon. You’ll only find two or three other punters inside, along with a cosy, welcoming 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.

The Long Hall opens at 12 noon daily. You can follow its Twitter page for the latest updates.

Planning a night out in Dublin for the first time? Check out our introduction to nightlife in the city.

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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