For too long the tote-bag blow-ins of Stoneybatter have lorded it over us here in the Liberties. We have fewer junkies, they bray, and wear a higher proportion of Repeal sweatshirts. Our houses are worth more. Our children have more outlandish names. We have better pubs. At least one of these things is true but the point no longer holds with regard to hostelries. Some horrors persist – see the banal tragedy of The Lamplighter, a pub with an actual bang of cirrhosis off it. Nevertheless, with the opening of Lucky’s we (you know who you are) now have an unassailable triumvirate of fuck-off places in which to wet our whistles.
Walsh’s on Manor St is a fine shop but it’s no Fallon’s (the subject of my very first Barfly). L. Mulligan (Grocer) is a pub where people openly speak about their children. Thomas House is a superior boozer in every way. The recently re-opened Belfry does nothing for me. Lucky’s however is the place we’ve been waiting for. Opened just weeks ago by the extremely affable John Mahon (ex Bernard Shaw) along with partners Barry O’Donohue and Simon Conway, the joint is still a work in progress, (so let’s consider this a preview) but it really is progressing very nicely. The old Bohan’s space on Meath St has has been opened up to let the light in and the bright, airy space really is a revelation. It hasn’t been over-designed, it’s pared back but the details such as the wainscotting, ribbed glass and dark jade walls make it a very appealing place to be. Art that you might consider buying hangs on those walls. The identity (by Post) is also bang-on.
In a stroke of genius, the folks from Coke Lane Pizza have been installed in a shipping container out back and they are already slinging some of the best pies in the city (try the ‘Scarface’). I’m told that soup and sandwiches are on the way for lunch service, along with a full coffee programme. The idea is that this is a place you can use, from nipping in for coffee and e-mails to eating dinner and getting loaded. On a recent Thursday the place was thronged with visibly grateful punters. We pounded a couple of Rye Ales (from the Guinness Brewers Project) and then put down that excellent pizza with a very serviceable Rioja. An Old Fashioned to finish points the way to some serious cocktails in the near future.
I guffawed when the hilariously hipsterish Legit Coffee Co opened on Meath St, casting scorn on the idea that we had sufficient numbers of Guardian readers to support it. I’ve been forced to eat my words (in addition to many of their chorizo and brie sausage-rolls). The same is true of the almost insufferably right-on Two Pups on Francis St. There is a palpable sense of change in the neighbourhood. Indigenous types are coming to terms with the reality that people who get up early in the morning are in their midst. The Liberties is becoming a freer place. The phenomenon has already been named ‘when hipster meets howya’. Stoneybatter is still on the wrong side of the river. Dublin 8 is winning and Lucky’s has the makings of a neighbourhood gem, about a hundred feet from my crib. Bona Fortuna!
Words: Conor Stevens
Photo: Killian Broderick
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I sincerely apologise for any offence caused in its publication. Totally Dubli