Piper’s Corner is very much a trad bar, and while I end up there not so infrequently, I’ve oddly never been in when a session is on, despite being something of a folk music nerd. And while at some point I will have to remedy that, I enjoy the pub for a variety of other reasons.
First, though, some more background: Piper’s Corner opened in 2017, replacing the former Sean O’Casey’s Bar, which was less of a music experience and more of a dive one. And yet Piper’s Corner seems to have been embraced from the start, possibly because it offered a more ‘authentic’ trad experience, vs the more tourist-forward ‘trad evenings’ on offer in some places. I’m aware I’m on slightly dangerous ground here, as there’s absolutely a place for the shows aimed at tourists (if they are willing to pay for a specific kind of experience that’s keeping musicians working, why not?), and also because folk music is never static – it’s always evolving, so there’s no one ‘right’ way to play or enjoy trad tunes. Now, this doesn’t mean visitors are not welcome – not at all – just that it seems to be a more organic experience (for lack of a better word – and this is largely based on word of mouth, since you know I’m asleep by then most of the time). But even having missed out on the music, I have a special fondness for Piper’s Corner for another reason, too – one beyond its extremely handy proximity to the Abbey Theatre, making it an ideal pre- or post-play spot.
Back in 2019 – so, think 1-2 ‘normal’ years and a few extra-long ‘Covid years’ here – I went to a fateful meetup at Piper’s Corner. I was briefly in town for some meetings, waiting for everything to come through for our big move from the US, and it happily coincided with a Ladies Craft Beer Society of Ireland event – I would finally get the chance to meet some of my Twitter Friends (as people were back then) in person, and get some great tips for local beer (of course), neighbourhoods, schools, commutes (still a thing) and so on. Fast-forward four years, and some of the friends I made that night are now some of my firmest – and I’m still a huge fan of Kinnegar Scraggy Bay, which was very much a feature of that evening.
I was back with a few of them the other evening for a Beer Ladies Podcast planning session that turned into more of a session (still not a music one, though), and it was lovely to have some of the same group back in a spot with such warm memories. There were a few little features that made our beer nerdy hearts collectively happy too – the first, of course, being that Piper’s Corner still very much supports smaller Irish breweries, with a whole series of craft beer taps on one side of the bar. Given that a not-insignificant number of pubs that used to have a craft tap or two abandoned them post-lockdowns, it’s a much-appreciated effort, though of course you can get a well-poured Guinness or any of the other usual suspects as well. But the other nice touch is that instead of having to wander over to the other bar to see what’s on, they’ve popped the badges onto the main bar, underneath the other taps – a small but helpful touch that makes ordering that little bit faster.
At some point, I’ll need to actually stay up past my bedtime and catch a trad session or two…
Where: Piper’s Corner, 105-106 Marlborough St, North City, Dublin, D01 FD28
Access from the city centre: 7-ish minute walk across the river, LUAS Green Line
Food: Possibly some crisps, but it’s otherwise a traditional ‘wet pub’ of the sort we heard so much about during lockdowns
Sport: Very much a pre-game spot for GAA, and big games are shown
TVs: Mostly, no, but screens for the abovementioned ‘event’ GAA games
Music: So much trad!
Family-friendliness: I tend to find non-food pubs more adults-only, but I’m sure you could get a Coke on your way to a game at Croke Park
Pub-crawl-ability: High – a short walk to Kimchi Hophouse, The Flowing Tide, The Confession Box, Cassidys, The Palace Bar and many more; there’s a ‘Spoons around the corner as well
Local sites of note: GPO, The Custom House, Busarus, NATIONAL WAX MUSEUM, Abbey Theatre
Haunted: Perhaps someone brings a haunted instrument?
Other notes: Also a good whiskey selection; covered upstairs ‘outdoor’ patio for your smoking/vaping friends