Some years after the foundation of the college in 1592, I was myself an undergraduate of this august seat of learning. Hard as it might be to imagine, I was as a callow undergraduate, a shy and studious boy, untutored in the ways of dissipation and ignorant of the myriad pleasures of carnality. Mine was a life of the mind. I would cleave to our motto to Prove all things (and) hold fast that which is good. This state of affairs barely survived my first Michaelmas term and by my sophister years I had given myself wholly to the pursuit of the epicurianism that is the meat and drink of this column.
In those days, prior to the vagaries of global warming and climate change, the winter months in Dublin would stretch interminably from August to April. As students we would go to any lengths to find shelter anywhere on campus that didn’t house a library. That meant drinking in the bowels of the Buttery Bar, just off Parliament Square. With its groined ceiling and sloppily poured pints of Guinness, it served a purpose and the occasional bout of listeria seemed a fair trade-off for the warmth and keenly priced beverages.
It was with the onset of our too brief summers however that we would live out our halcyon days. The Pavilion Bar, or ‘The Pav’, as it’s commonly known is located on the south-eastern corner of the campus and has long served as the sporting clubhouse of the college. This is where we were ineluctably drawn on hazy June afternoons to sit in quiet contemplation, unmolested by the yahoos milling about beyond the walls. It was just such a day when I met up with Andy and Mike (two old alumni) at the edge of the cricket ground. As there was a match in progress, we skirted around the perimeter and headed toward the bar proper. We wended our way though clots of bodies sprawled upon the grass, sipping and squinting. One poor girl lies prostrate on her front, perhaps unaware that her dress has migrated north, with the warm breeze gently licking the ample humps of her naked flanks. She is cleft in twain for the world to see. Andy’s face is frozen into a rictus of horror. We are drinking now to forget.
They have tarted the place up recently and it looks good in a functional way. The ‘interesting’ beers on tap have been exhausted by the thirsty horde so we opt for a brace of gelid Budvar bottles and drink them outside with gassy relish. Life is good. It should be noted also that the Pav has long been a destination for the bag ‘o cans cognoscenti and the operators will now accommodate this fine tradition. After a couple more rounds we fork out a tenner for a four-pack of Tyskie and it goes down just fine. As college opens its gates ever wider to tourists (flocking to see ‘the Star Wars library’) and civilians (with the heinous ‘Summer Series’ of concerts) it’s possible that the Pav will come to feel just that bit less special, but right now, on a night like this, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Trinity College Dublin,
Words: Conor Stevens
Photo: Killian Broderick