An absolute cracker of a pub, in fact I’d like to nominate Ryan’s as the museum of the Victorian Dublin Public House. A perfectly-preserved time capsule, you feel like you’ve just opened the door and stumbled into another era, back in time, just like Rodney does (okay Nicholas Lyndhurst, whatever his character’s name is, he shall forever be known to me as Rodney Trotter) in ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ when he flits between his parallel lives in the past and present. The bar and fittings are identical to how they were over 120 years ago when they were installed – the premises are a few hundred years older than that of course but the pub you see today was established in 1886. Close to the gates of the Phoenix Park and within walking distance of Kilmainham Gaol – tourists visiting Dublin listen up – trust me and swing by for a pint of a locally-sourced brew and to snap a few pics. This is the place you’re looking for. Top of da mornin’ gold dust.
As you take your first steps into Dublin circa 1886, you’re struck by the stunning mahogany booth in the centre of the room, with a bar running the whole way around, merging with two snugs at the back of the pub, one on either side of the bar. It reminds me of a small wooden model saloon my folks had hanging on the kitchen wall when I was growing up (no, that’s not what Irish people call art, sounds like a Family Guy joke…no I don’t know where they got it and it was perhaps a corkscrew holder?!) The artisanal casks (the barrels with the taps seen behind the bar) in the booth used to contain whiskey from Jameson & Powers distillery, diluted from rocket-fuel strength of 70% to 40% by the barmen (70&?! I’m sure they all tried it one night after hours…) The casks double up as wine glass holders, probably a functional, normal feature back then but such a nice touch, and I’ve never seen this anywhere else. Like Kehoe’s (see previous post), Ryan’s still has the original mahogany drawers behind the bar that would’ve contained tobacco and tea once upon a time.
According to staff, the main feature of the bar is the clock (pictured above)
“Our Clock is the oldest two faced indoor clock in Ireland. It came from the Frengley Brothers German Clock Company in the late 1800’s…Ryan’s bar was designed around the clock in 1886 and today it is still the main feature of the Bar. Historically, Willie ‘Bongo’ Ryan set the clock 5 minutes fast, so that his patrons wouldn’t miss their train from Heuston Station. The clock is still tick tocking today…..once we remember to wind it that is!” (from website, link below)
Ryan’s has quite the collection of antique frosted and engraved mirrors, my favourite is the foliage/ivy pattern (pictured above) from one of the snugs. And can I add – holy hanging baskets! Huge hanging baskets hanging from a conservatory roof, that’s not something you see in very many (any) pubs. I’m not sure they were around in 1886…who cares, I’m impressed. The lamps you see on the bar are the original gaslamps, long since converted to electricity but it doesn’t take away from them (they’re in amazing nick and play nicely into my 1886 fantasy) gorgeous antique ornaments. (They have the same gas lamps in Neary’s, later post).
Go to ‘Dublin circa 1886’ on an average night and you’re bound to see a lot of loyal local heads around, and tourists snapping away, lapping up the quaintness and well, Irishness of it all. One of the capital’s finest establishments.
Famous faces who’ve swung by for a pint? A Bostonian of Irish descent you may have heard of. Went by the name of John F. Kennedy. And another feller by the name of Bush. (That’s Bush as in Dubya.)
(The history on the website is worth a read, although I might offer to donate my photos http://ryans.fxbuckley.ie/ryans-grill)