For the first time in my life, I absentmindedly strolled into Humphreys – next door – and ordered a pint before realising that all my surroundings were, while traditionally wooden and old-man in style, completely different. I’m hoping this is an indication of someone with a busy mind, but I’m keenly aware that it’s an indication that I’m a bit of a dope too. In my defence there is a bus stop in the way of the front door, but then again, that’s not much of a defence.
Ranelagh’s main street is heavily stocked with pubs, you might even say over-supplied, but for the fact that suburb manages to function as a ‘destination’ as well as just servicing the leafily suburban surrounds. What, then, is the particular charm of Smyth’s?
If Smyth’s was a political party, it would be a populist one. It retains traditional values in its interiors and decor, but it also reacts and moves with the times, viz. the array of alternative brews available on tap, including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, welcomely ordered by my accomplice. It’s representative of the younger crowd it draws – and younger feel it maintains – by comparison with its more conservative neighbour.
But like a good populist, Smyth’s hasn’t ditched the baby with the bathwater. Pints of plain (top notch, by the by), pub grub remain and table service in the lounge are still its core demographic. Who would not vote for table service? And don’t think that apparatchiks don’t care about the rank and file either. Three pints in, we are rewarded for our mere attendance with plates, knapkins and redistributed finger food that’s better in our stomachs than in the bin. A nice touch, like a TD kissing a newborn.
Tonight there’s Champions League on the telly in the corner beside the fire, by the weekend it would be a Six Nations match or come summer, a Championship game. Whichever way the wind blows, Smyth’s will gladly bend. It’s an experienced incumbent in probably a five seat constituency, the definition of a safe seat: the one to call when your garden floods, or to complain about speed ramps, a real local clinic.
77 Ranelagh, Dublin 6
t: 01 491 1075
Words: Ian Lamont // Photography: Killian Broderick