We’re heading back to Phibsborough/Phibsboro this week, with a visit to Doyle’s Corner.
Dublin pubs – and, to be fair, other businesses – have a habit of lending their names to road conjunctions. In the case of Doyle’s Corner, this has happened twice: originally known as Dunphy’s Corner from the 1870s, with the requisite Joycean name-check, the intersection in front of the pub has been called Doyle’s Corner since at least the early 1900s. Although built by Thomas Dunphy in 1873, allegedly with leftover stone from nearby St. Peter’s Church, the Dunphy name receded when John Doyle bought both this pub and The Boh(emian) across the road. There is, like last week’s featured pub, The Cat & Cage, also a Brendan Behan connection, but there’s no evidence he offered to do any work here in exchange for a drink.
Although the pub’s name was changed (in the mid-2000s?) to celebrate Arthur Conan Doyle, it reverted to John Doyle’s, and then, re-opened in 2018 as Doyle’s Corner. For Dublin real estate enthusiasts/masochists, it’s worth noting that the pub sold for €4.2 million in 2006, but then had to ‘reduce its price‘ to €850,000 in 2011. These days, it’s a stretch to find many decent houses in Dublin for under that amount, much less a public one, but back to the bar…there are still some nods to Conan Doyle in the snug, with prints of various Sherlock Holmes illustrations on one wall.
I never saw the pre-renovation interior, but I find the current atmosphere very pleasant, with distinct personalities in the two main floor sections. The main bar feels, well, pubby, and the snug, with its fireplace and wood, more ‘Irish pubby’ – at least, that’s how my brain likes to interpret it. But I would hasten to add that it feels ‘Irish pubby’ in the authentic sense, not in the came-in-a-kit regard you get from overseas ‘Irish pubs’ (and, sorry to say, at least one near me, though I will likely simply never mention that particular pub here). I seem to almost always end up next to the bookshelves near the front door, which is no complaint; it’s very comfortable and an ideal spot to be tucked away for a sneaky solo afternoon pint. And, given that I walk by the pub at least twice a day, it’s extremely handy for that solo pint for me – with bonus points given as I have never been accosted by That Guy here.
I confess I have not checked out the newer sports bar and/or party venue upstairs, which makes me feel like I’m cheating to some extent by mentioning it without that more thorough exploration, but I’m very happy with the spots I in which I tend to be placed downstairs, in both sections. The chief draw for me, beyond the convenience factor and comfortable seating, is, of course, a selection of independent Irish beers. There’s always Kinnegar Scraggy Bay on, and usually something from The White Hag, Trouble or Yellowbelly. Guinness is, of course, well-represented, so it does cater to a range of tastes, with some cocktails included in the lineup as well – the Island’s Edge is kept far off to one side, where it belongs.
Doyle’s Corner is very much a pub in my ‘regular circulation’ – a fresh pint of Scraggy Bay is always worth the walk.
Where: Doyle’s Corner, 160/161 Phibsborough Rd, Phibsborough, Dublin 7, D07 R26N
Access from the city centre: Buses 9, 40, 46A, 83, 140; Luas Green Line; 30ish minute walk
Food: Pub grub, excellent warm cookies on the dessert menu
Sport: Most major Premiere League & international football matches; rugby & GAA as well
TVs: An entire sports bar section upstairs; screens come down for big games in the main bar, TV in the snug
Music: You can program the music from your phone; also live music weekly
Family-friendliness: Kids’ menu; plenty of the smaller ones about at reasonable hours
Pub-crawl-ability: High – The Hut is right next door, The Boh across the street, The Bald Eagle and The Back Page just a few short blocks away in opposite directions, with a few more in the immediate area
Local sites of note: Dalymount Park, Blessington Street Basin, Mountjoy Prison, Mater Hospital
Haunted: Poltergeist? Allegedly a ‘noisy ghost‘ ‘terrorised patrons on the second floor‘ in the early 2000s
Other notes: Possibly the most pleasant women’s bathrooms in a pub, anywhere; also a list of cans and bottles from local breweries