Dublin knows how to party, so guided by Guinness BRENDON BISHOP visits drinking spots around the city’s Temple Bar district.
Ah, that unmistakable smell of alcohol-afflicted streets. That wafting odour of a party, still rising from the pavements as the next one kicks off. It’s summer in Dublin and the floodgates of debauchery are open to all.
Early on a Saturday afternoon the revellers are already falling out of bars, drunkenly supporting each other as they stagger along the cobbled streets of Temple Bar district, Dublin’s cultural quarter. It’s a bizarre gathering of hen and stag groups, gleaming tourists and down-and-outs, all lapping up this uniquely Irish mayhem.
Though the area’s name is a modern invention (taken from the district’s main street, Temple Bar) its history dates back to medieval times. All that remains today, though, is a scattering of ancient buildings and cobbled streets. There would have been less than that had the area been bulldozed as intended for a national bus station in the late ’80s. Luckily, some bright spark saw the potential in this edgy, alternative quarter and set about revamping the derelict warehouses and artist studios into Dublin’s ‘Left Bank’.
Today, this corner of Dublin teems with an array of visitors from all around the globe, most of them jetting in with one aim: to have a good time. After trailing the alleyways, gawping the buskers and partygoers under the bright neon lights, I come to the entrance of the street’s most renowned drinking den, also called Temple Bar. A group of women wearing pink cowboy hats bursts onto the street in front of me, cackling and crooning and pointing at my camera. Copyright, copyright,” one of them manages to slur.
Temple Bar is heaving. It reminds me of an overcrowded African bus – there are probably people sitting on the roof. Getting to the bar becomes a reconnaissance mission as I weave my way through the sardines, dodging spilling drinks held above my head to fight for a pint. Guinness in hand, I finally find a free space. But before long it’s infiltrated by a gaggle of wildly gyrating women – “Ginger’s stag do”, apparently – and a man in a fake beard who tries to shout out to me over the din.
It’s time to check out the area’s other fine establishments. The rain has held out and the cool of the cobbled streets has enticed many a night owl. A variety of your more unusual street performers create an infectious atmosphere as a steady flow of wasted and sober bodies parade past. Temple Bar district brims with bars and clubs so another Guinness is never far away. If it’s live music you’re after then there’s plenty of that, from traditional Irish folk to heavy metal.
After a tipple or two more I leave the vicinity of the Temple Bar district and stop at the River Liffey to contemplate the hectic night. I can still hear the music thumping from the nearby streets, merging into a mesh of sound. New, young lovers leave hand in hand, and the ladies sit on the pavement smoking, exhausted from a hard night on the dancefloor. The rain begins to fall lightly and umbrellas come out of hiding. It’s not heavy enough to clean the streets so tomorrow the smell of the night before will linger again, as will the headache of many a patron of the Temple Bar district. •
• Brendon Bishop travelled to Ireland with Paddywagon (0800-7834 191; www.paddywagontours.com). Their six-day All Ireland tours start at £189.
When you’re not drinking …
It’s never a good idea if you’ve had a few, but if you want to spend your money on more tangible items, there are plenty of quirky, one-off shops in the Temple Bar district. Those looking for Irish jewellery, decorative arts and interior design should head to Cow’s Lane; Witchcraft is a good place to start. You’re also only a hop away from the city’s main shopping area, Grafton Street. Try the Powerscourt Town House shopping complex (where you’ll find Irish designer fashions) and the very smart Brown Thomas Department Store. For the serious clubber there’s BT2, also on Grafton Street.
If you’re going to last the night you’ll need to eat at some point. Aside from kebab shops, perfect for that late-night greasy doner, Temple Bar district offers the full range of eating choices (and prices) for the more discerning food connoisseur. For traditional Irish chow check out Gallagher’s Boxty House at 20 Temple Bar.
For an injection of culture try the Bank of Ireland Arts Centre (Foster Place, Temple Bar), great for theatre and art exhibitions. Traditional Irish music is played passionately at most pubs – you’ll find a particularly energetic example at Eamonn Doran’s at 3a Crown Alley. Fitzsimmons Temple Bar hosts Dublin’s top hip-hop and dance DJs and live Irish rock music can be found at a number of venues in Temple Bar. The Temple Bar Music Centre on Curved Street is a good place to start.