O’Shea’s has always boasted, or perhaps, been burdened by a certain latent promise: A landmark pub due to its location and size rather than its reputation. It is rare for a pub’s greatest selling point to be its carpark but O’Shea’s Dodder-adjacent sun-trap seemed to be the establishment’s primary draw over the last few years. Each all-too-rare sunny day would act as a clarion call to local populous, imploring them to jostle for position on the handful of picnic tables that dotted the pub’s exterior. A business model so reliant on whims of the weather doesn’t really smack of indefinite sustainability, even in the beautiful Costa del Clonskeagh. And so, after a degree of NAMA-related wrangling, O’Shea’s was shuttered.
Fast forward to June. Eurofever grips the island as a nation bellows in unison “COYBIG in Green” while racking its collective brain for locations to watch the matches on a screen that can match the occasion in its monumental nature. Enter a refurbed and reanimated Clonskeagh House, complete with an outdoor big screen in-place. What’s more, word quickly spreads that a llama and a handful of goats – seemingly inexplicably – also occupied the carpark. By the time I made it down to O’Shea’s our boys had long since returned home and the outdoor screen had been removed accordingly. Yet, the promise of cloven-hooved South American visitors, if not fervent nationalism, was still firmly in mind when my companions and I set off for Clonskeagh .
Tragically, on arrival it became apparent our four-legged friends had move onto literal and figurative greener pastures. It appears their principle role was to prune the previously overgrown, now barren, mound beside the aforementioned carpark. Regardless, we soldiered on, wearing our disappointment with a frankly admirable level of stoicism as we crossed the threshold to the interior. On entering, the change of approach that characterises the bar’s latest iteration is obvious. It’s a considerably brighter, more airy and, I suppose, sophisticated space with a much greater focus on dining than before.
Somewhat shook by the new look, we made our way to the bar and ordered a round of O’Hara’s pale ales (€5.20). On collecting our pints and moving towards the seats we secured outside, I clocked the parents of an old primary school friend enjoying a date night meal and sharing a bottle of wine. Theirs is the type of evening, and custom, this new Clonskeagh House is really designed for. It’s a gastropub in the somewhat unremarkable but wholly inoffensive mould, a place you go for “something nice, but nothing fancy” when you don’t feel like cooking (which is an observation that’s far from barbed when you consider then genuine need for something like that in the black-hole of amenities that is this stretch of Clonskeagh.) Judging by their numbers, the locals are more than happy with the new arrival. We soon polished off our pints and set off home, perhaps as satisfied as any men can be when they are mistakenly promised a llama. If that’s not praise, I don’t know what is.
O’Shea’s Clonskeagh House
68 Clonskeagh Road, Dublin 6
Words: Danny Wilson
Photos: Killian Broderick