Some pubs to which we bade a sad farewell (and maybe a few we don’t actually miss that much!)

Vallence and McGrath: one of so many pubs we lost

Pubs come and go. Sometimes it’s hard to believe when a good pub dies.

The Pearl Bar was one such.

It was an Irish Times haunt and run by the Weldon family, two of whom were in school with me.

Maeve Binchy claimed she liked to visit twice a day. But many Irish Times journalists liked it. It closed in 1973 to make way for the building of a bank.

Higgins’ on Abbey Street was another hacks’ watering hole. I remember one year the owner, Dermot, ran a series of raffles with turkeys as the prizes. I think I won three. I told one colleague he could have one of the birds and, delighted, he took it back to Mayo as a surprise for his family only to find that there was a leg missing.

We never found the culprit.

I was told too, a story of the Ballybough Inn which made way for road widening back in, I think, the 1980s.

A friend of a friend who lived in Howth, passed the pub most days on his way to and from work.

When he heard it was closing, he thought it would be nice to have one pint there before the shutters came down.

The Ballybough Inn was working class. Very working class. And very local.

And so when this chap parked some distance away and walked in one evening at tea time, it was like a scene from a western. The place fell quiet and everyone looked at the stranger in the suit and the expensive coat.

He later said that he got the impression they were trying to figure out if he was from Social Welfare, Revenue or the Gardai.

Anyway, he tried to put on a bit of a Dublin accent and ordered a “pint of stout.”

The place was still silent and they were still looking at him.

Eventually his pint settled and the barman pushed it towards him.

He reached out a hand to grab the pint, but the barman moved quickly and grabbed the visitor’s hand.

“The best thing you can do,” he said quietly but loud enough for everyone to hear, “is drink that up and f**k off.”

Which he did.


The Pig and Whistle: Gone but the stories are still alive

I told this one before but it’s worth telling again.

John O’Dwyer was the legendary owner of the Oval where many if not most Indo hacks gathered after (and sometimes before and during) work.

He liked a drink himself.

And one night, he and some other publicans were out on the lash.

They made it through the night and fancied to finish it off in an early house.

So they went to The Pig and Whistle.

John went to the bar and ordered a round of large whiskeys.

“I’m not serving you,” the young barman said. “You’ve had enough.”

John was shocked.

“Who owns this place?” he asked.

“I own it with my partner,” the barman said.

“Well, in that case, can I speak to Mr Whistle.”

Fair dues coming up with that retort after a night on the piss.

Scruffy Murphys
Scruffy’s: Haunt of media and political backroom boys

The Grove Inn was, I suppose, the headquarters for Archibald Albion. Farreller drank there. Manners and Pax too. Maybe even Yod. A few of the lads anyway.

What is Archibald Albion you ask.

Archibald Albion (named after Spurs player Steve) are one time champions of the AUL Division 3 (Saturday) and actually, double winners. I managed them for a while despite knowing shag-all about soccer management. And we thrived.

Got even better when a colleague, John Curran, rowed in (that’s my ego not allowing me to say that he replaced me and did a better job.)

Anyway, one Saturday, we were away to Castleknock Celtic. They kind of fancied themselves. Indeed, when we got there, the Castleknock players were all in their matching, spotless tracksuits doing warm up exercises on the side of the pitch. The Archies, on the other hand, were sitting down in their unwashed gear, half of them smoking.

About ten or fifteen minutes into the game, the referee called me over. He told me he thought my left full back known to all as Manners (and that wasn’t because of his excellent behaviour) was concussed and might have to come off.

So I called Manners over. “Are you ok?” I asked him. “I’m pissed,” he said.

He’d come straight to the game from a night out!

He played on. And we won.

As for the Irish Times Club, its demise came when, one year they went to renew their licence only to discover they hadn’t got one – and never had!

Anyway, here’s a list of twenty-five pubs no longer with us…

Someday, I’ll come up with a story for each!




  1. The Pearl Bar Fleet Street
  2. Valance and McGrath, North Wall Quay
  3. Higgins’ Abbey Street
  4. The Scotch House, Aston Quay
  5. The Horse and Tram, Eden Quay
  6. The Princes, Princes Street
  7. The Toby Jug South King Street
  8. Scruffy Murphy’s Power’s Court off Mount Street
  9. Conway’s Parnell Street
  10. The Ballybough Inn, Ballybough
  11. Kiely’s Donnybrook
  12. Coman’s Rathgar
  13. The Grove Inn, Rathmines
  14. Brady’s, Williamstown
  15. The Tuning Fork, Rathfarnham
  16. The White Horse George’s Quay
  17. Larry Murphy’s Baggot Street
  18. The Hill Ranelagh
  19. The Abbey Mooney Abbey Street
  20. Rosie O’Grady’s Harold’s Cross
  21. Bartley Dunne’s Stephen’s Street Lower
  22. Rice’s – Stephen’s Green and South King Street
  23. The Pig and Whistle, Church Street Upper
  24. The Quill, Arran Quay
  25. The Irish Times Club Fleet Street








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