Dublin’s Cheers: Neary’s Pub

Here’s an interesting fact: There are over a thousand pubs in the city of Dublin. This means that within one city block you are likely to find at least three. In a 15 minute walk you are likely to come across a minimum of 15 pubs. That’s a pub a minute!

The national pastime in Ireland is “get[ting] together for a drink” versus America’s vague “we should get together sometime.” At least in Ireland you know what you’ll be doing if you actually end up getting together with anyone.

Each of the 1,000 pubs prides itself on offering the best pint of Guinness. It is what a pub’s quality is measured by and the pint at Neary’s Pub is considered one of the best. Neary’s also happens to be one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. Its atmosphere changes based on time of day and day of week. It can be a calm place to reflect or read a good book during lunch or host the casual atmosphere of regulars bellied up to a beautiful marble bar in the evening. It can also be a happenin’ Saturday night hot spot.

Dubliners love Neary’s and they are proud to share it with visitors. They rant and rave about its Guinness and get one very excited about experiencing a pint there. We are lucky enough to have friends here in Dublin who have some family history with the pub, not as owners but as employees. You can always count on at least one uncle or cousin providing you with your pint and taking a minute to stop and say hello between drink orders.

Not surprisingly, our friends wanted us to meet them at Neary’s one of our first night’s in Dublin. Of course we agreed and after getting directions via phone headed over there. Unfortunately, we couldn’t seem to locate the famous pub once we finally reached the Chatham and Grafton Street intersection. We walked up and down looking for it until we gave into the fact that we were going to have to do the one thing that you NEVER want to do when you are in a foreign city – ask for directions. You might as well stamp “I’m a tourist” on your forehead. But we did what we had to do and the directions we received only served to confuse us more (for more on the Irish sense of direction see my post here).

“You walked right past it. There, on the corner, you can’t miss it.” But alas, we apparently could miss it and had numerous times. All we saw on the corner was an unsightly neon sign that said “Chatham Cocktail Lounge” and promised a cheesy electric piano version of Stayin’ Alive by the Irish equivalent of Sonny Bono upon entry. Maybe Neary’s was above or below the Lounge? As we headed over in that direction for the fifth time in 15 minutes, we spotted the word “Neary’s” written across the frosted glass of one of the old fashioned lampposts in front of the door and overshadowed by the blaring neon light of the “Chatham Cocktail Lounge.”

Inside was a crowd of folks looking like they were really enjoying themselves and, thankfully, no electric piano to be found. As we walked in, we were comforted by a mobile conversation we overheard: “Yeah, we’re heere at Neeeary’s, but joost leavin for Temple Bar in tur-ty minootes.” It looked like we had in fact made it to our destination – finally. Confirmation was obtained when we heard “Ch-ah-d, Joo-ee, over heeer,” and we spotted our friends sitting in front of the gorgeous marble bar.

Ah, Neary’s: Where everybody knows your name, but not the name of the pub.


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