Barfly: T O’Brennan’s

Posted June 13, 2016 in Bar Reviews

INO Faust Banner

57 The Headline at Leonard’s Corner in Dublin 8 has, over the last number of years, secured itself an enviable position within the Dublin bar scene. It boasts the dual strengths of an extensive array of taps showcasing only the best of our domestically produced beers and an absolute absence of the gimmickry that’s sadly commonplace amongst their competitors. As a nation of drinkers our evolving tastes have left many a publican eager for a piece of the action and bearing an imagined onus to reinvent the wheel which has gradually purged the city of many traditionalist watering holes in a blitzkrieg of Jenga bricks, Star Wars memorabilia and half-baked street art. So, when word got out that the folks behind the comfortingly understated Headline were opening up a Northside sister location there was no small degree of intrigue at the prospect.

On arrival our relief is palpable, the powers that be have thankfully stayed true to their apparent disdain for pretense. If anything, T O’Brennan’s operates at an even further remove from such a notion. The space is tiny by most pubs’ standards, with the bar man comfortably within nodding distance from even the most distant corners of the establishment, a mere practicality that becomes a strength when reflected in the friendly and helpful staff’s willingness to provide table service.



In terms of décor, the craft beer thinktank running the show merely populated the walls with signage showcasing the various American, European and Irish tipples on offer, erected a waist-high fence around a smoking area-cum-suntrap out front and let that be that. It’s perhaps a little unusual to commend a new pub for essentially doing nothing to the vestiges of its forbearer and yet it’s refreshing to see key proponents of Ireland’s new drinking culture feel comfortable enough in what they’re doing to keep the place a “pub” rather than a “bar.”

This level-headedness when it comes to refurbishment is reflected in the amount of obviously pre-existing regulars who remain in the stools they’ve likely occupied for longer than anyone cares to admit, entirely unperturbed, perhaps even enthusiastic over the minor, tasteful facelift.



Despite T O’Brennan’s beer-led purview, they also come boasting a collection of fine liquors to rival even the Dublin’s most heavily pomaded mixologists. Their menu offers eight domestically produced gins, with their signature gin and tonic (€8) made with Waterford’s own Thin Gin, (winner of the Best Irish Gin gong last year), garnished with juniper berries, cucumber and orange being of particular note.

One can only hope that T O’Brennan’s, aside from being one of the city’s best new pubs, will act as a beacon of good sense to other publicans, an exemplifier of the notion that, to borrow a tawdry phrase, evolution need not mean revolution.


T O’Brennan’s

15 Dominick Street Upper, Phibsborough, Dublin 7


Words: Danny Wilson

Photos: Killian Broderick


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.


Dublin Theater Festival -23 – MPU


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.