Barfly: Finnegan’s


Posted November 25, 2013 in Bar Reviews

Anton’s Angry Birds swimsuit is still dripping as we walk from White Rock up to Dalkey village, in all the balminess of Ireland’s famous heatwave of 2013. He had given me a lend of his other, identical Angry Birds swimsuit on the beach, from which I’ve changed into my normal clothes. Finnegan’s was my late grandfather’s local, and I can hear his disdainful words for the Angry Birds franchise and associated clothing, along with the assurance that he’ll show me angry, from beyond the grave.

You can see why Michelle Obama and daughters wound up in Finnegan’s for their casual meeting with Bono earlier this summer: it’s got a sense of history about it ― which most traditional Irish pubs do ― as well as a Mediterranean, middle-class vibe that comes by osmosis from its location in one of south county Dublin’s most desirable addresses. It’s during warm weather that this second side to its appeal comes into its own: small chairs and tables lining the outside of the building soak up the evening sun, while the ‘Sorrento Lounge’ inscription above the door feels about as far from incongruous at this point in the calendar year as it’s ever likely to. The dark wood and tile interior lends itself more readily to a cosy pint than it does Bulmers with ice, but despite the traditional interior, you don’t ever feel any more than a stone’s throw away from the sea.

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Children in Angry Birds t-shirts scamper around between tables seating family dinners, young professionals, auld codgers and post-Leaving Cert heads come straight from the beach. Even if everyone’s only been made more cheerful by the weather, there’s a definite sense of community and warmth here, with barmen referring to customers by their first names and specific, unusual draught orders being happily accommodated: one man behind me orders ‘a Smithwicks with a Guinness head in a tankard’. Staff are more tolerant of this than I expect my grandfather might have been.

While the price of a Guinness (€4.75) might be a little on the steep side for a suburban pub, with lagers rising to over a fiver, you’re really paying for a vibe, for prestige, as well as the drink itself, and it can’t be denied that Finnegan’s Sorrento Lounge provides a particularly pleasant environment for a few jars. A post-18 holes cadre by the bar certainly seem to think so: one of them is wearing a polo shirt bearing the inscription: ‘If a man speaks in the forest, and no woman is around to hear, is he still wrong?’. This might be the only pub in Ireland where the misogynistic slogans are printed on polo shirts. Not sure what Michelle would make of it.

A few children behind us are either admiring or making fun of Anton’s Angry Birds swimsuit (now dry) as we leave. ‘I wouldn’t mind taking up golf,’ he says. ‘Seems like it’d be fairly relaxing.’

 

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