Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Grogan’s

Toasties and pints at Grogan'sThis week, we are journeying to one of those ‘needs no introduction’ pubs that’s simply part of the fabric here in Dublin, and sometimes, you just need a pint and a toastie. And so, to Grogan’s.

While the cash-only policy is, thankfully, gone, everything else is old-school in the right way. The slightly scuffed, but art-covered walls, the jumbled stools and tables, the mix of regulars and tourists and the just-right toasties that go perfectly with your pint are all present and accounted for. While Grogan’s – more correctly, Grogan’s Castle Lounge – has been a pub since 1899, the present incarnation has been going strong since the 1970s, when it became a renowned literary haunt for the likes of Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O'Brien. And while its old-school cred is very much deserved, it’s a progressive sort of old-school: Grogan’s was one of the first pubs in Dublin that served women without a fuss – and if you haven’t picked up Ali Dunworth’s recent book, A Compendium of Irish Pints, well…you should! It’s a fascinating look at the many nuances of ‘pints’ here in Ireland, and the relevant section here on how Grogan’s led the way on ‘allowing’ women to drink pints (rather than half-pints, or ‘glasses’ as they are more usually known here) IN FULL VIEW OF MALE CUSTOMERS…it was a whole thing! We also had Ali on the Beer Ladies Podcast in the season we just wrapped up, so do give a listen.

The colourful lightbox with regulars' faces on the wall at Grogan'sAnd, speaking of podcasts, there’s an entire episode of Three Castles Burning dedicated to Grogan’s, and it is very much worth your time; Donal Fallon’s always-excellent podcast is required listening for anyone visiting or living in Dublin, and it’s a fascinating story. You know when a pub has generated this much affection over the years, there’s likely a reason for it.

And while I personally tend to go to quieter pubs most of the time, it’s hard to beat Grogan’s for people-watching (inside or outside), and it’s an ideal place to meet someone as it’s so central. The toastie (with or without ham – your choice) is a perfect quick bite, and it’s especially welcome in this part of town, where the options are pricier/larger sit-down meals or the odd packet of crisps. Beer-wise, there’s obviously plenty of Guinness on offer (both full-fat and 0.0), plus O’Hara’s as a local craft choice, and there is also Beamish, Murphy’s and the lesser-spotted draught Harp (at least here in Dublin – it’s much more common in Belfast), along with the usual macro suspects.

While it’s rare to find any empty seats, Grogran’s is also the kind of pub where if you simply wait a bit, something may open up, or you may be invited to join an existing party and have a chat. You may as well…

Where: 15 William St S, Dublin 2, D02 H336
Access from the city centre: You are very central
Food: Toasties
Sport: Only verbal gymnastics
TVs: No
Music: Not here
Family-friendliness: You do see kids brought in as tourists, but it’s awfully crowded for them; still, toasties!
Pub-crawl-ability: High – The Long Hall, The Hairy Lemon, Caribou, Peter's Pub, Sinnot's Bar and Bar Rua are all within stumbling distance, with many more beyond
Local sites of note: George’s Street Arcade, Gaiety Theatre, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty, Craft Central (IYKYK)
Haunted: No well-known stories, but surely, at least a few old regulars would like to return…
Other notes: Grogan’s is open from 10.30 am, so you can always beat the crowds with a mid-morning tea
Socials: Instagram

2 thoughts on “Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs: Grogan’s”

  1. It's worth noting, Grogan's is one of the last places where you can get a decent bottled Guinness (either from the fridge, or off the shelf) to enjoy with a whiskey.

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  2. Regarding Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien, you’re confusing the Castle Lounge with an earlier Grogan’s, on Lower Leeson Street. Both men were dead by the time the 1970s came along, though it’s possible that Kavanagh, if not both, occasionally frequented the premises under its previous ownership. Had they lived long enough, they probably would have drunk in the Grogan’s we know, given they knew Paddy O’Brien from his time in McDaid’s.

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