I’ll be honest, my expectations were not high.
I only had a passing familiarity with The Red Parrot as it was – an awareness of its reputation as an old-man pub, saw it absolutely packed outside on Croke Park game days and had picked up the odd takeaway pint during the no-wet-pubs time, but that was more or less the extent of my knowledge. Still, it was (and is) my closest pub, so when it was evident that it was not going to re-open in avian guise, and that some fairly significant refurbishment was taking place, I kept a close eye on developments.
When the new signage appeared, I assumed ‘Juno‘ was a nod to Seán O’Casey, born just down the road. As there is now a cocktail called The Paycock on the menu, that would seem to track. I’m not sure there’s a hard-and-fast rule that every pub in Dublin needs to be mentioned in Ulysses and/or has a Brendan Behan anecdote, I am all for bringing in other local writers. I had zero familiarity with the ‘beers, beats and Battlestar Galactica’ reference now above the front door, but much cooler Young People have told me it’s to do with The Office; I’m not one of those people who is Not Into Television as their personality, I just never had time to catch that one (see also: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Scrubs, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos – essentially anything else on American television between about 1992-2008 or so), so I really had no reference point as far as what kind of ambience it was suggesting inside. But the fresh paint outside was still encouraging, and clearly, much work was happening in the pub’s interior. The initial keg delivery was – for me – underwhelming, with the usual suspects you see at nearly every pub, but I was still curious.
In the summer of 2022, the doors began to occasionally open on weekends; as I walk by several times a day as a matter of course, it was important to stop in to investigate, For Science. At the time, only the main bar was open, and the single craft-y tap was a Brewdog one, but the Guinness was in good shape, and the décor was a good start – freshly-painted all around, with framed pictures and art that celebrated Dublin (local art, Three Castles Burning, Shane MacGowan) without veering into theme pub territory, and an assurance that more was coming – at the time, the bar on the other side of the building was still very much under construction. I became cautiously optimistic that good things were not far off, that time I walked past a burning dumpster next to the bar notwithstanding – sometimes, these things happen when you live in the city.
I caught a glimpse of the other part of the bar during the holidays, when they opened briefly to host an excellent local arts and craft market, and I really liked what I saw – it wasn’t quite ready for prime time yet, but the bar area had been beautifully tidied up, and some lovely snugs with comfy seating were being readied.
Fast-forward to early 2023, when Juno began offering food and independent Irish beer, and it was time for a re-visit or two. This time, all the impressions were not just positive, but outright excited. Scraggy Bay is one of my favourite Irish beers to find on tap anywhere, and the freshly-tapped keg did not disappoint. The White Hag’s Little Fawn is another excellent go-to, and I had a wander around the entire space, eventually settling in one of the snugs, which now has not only a sofa and comfy chairs, but books of an especially eclectic thrift-shop selection – something I am very much here for.
Some may find the upcycled church fittings in this part of the pub a little too ‘hipster’ for them, but I’ve always had a soft spot for that kind of thing, so I am a fan. They are now definitely ticking all the boxes for ‘great spot for solo pint and book’ and as they are mere steps from my door, I am not remotely mad about this. And, depending on when you read this, we have either just recorded and/or just dropped a Beer Ladies Podcast episode on what makes a great pub, and we spent a fair amount of time on furniture and atmosphere – it’s worth considering.
In fact, I’m thrilled that all my ‘hipster bar with boring beer’ misgivings have been proven wrong – there’s a lot of character here, some excellent beer and a variety of spaces to sit or stand. I’m sure it’s going to become absolutely slammed on game or concert days going forward, but that’s no bad thing – and being able to pop over for ‘just the one’ on quieter days looks like a regular future activity.
It’s a worthy addition to the list.
Where: Juno, 58 Dorset Street Lower, Dublin 1, D01 EP86
Access from the city centre: Buses 1, 11, 13, 16, 40, 122; 25ish minute walk
Food: Brand-new food menu has just launched
Sport: Screen for big games of all sorts – footy, rugby, GAA
TVs: Chiefly in the main bar
Music: Good mix of indie faves; no live music so far
Family-friendliness: Still trying to figure this one out…more testing required
Pub-crawl-ability: Medium; there are other pubs within a 10-15 minute walk, but the closest few are not terribly exciting
Local sites of note: Croke Park, Royal Canal, Mater Hospital
Haunted: Is there a ghostly taxidermied parrot? Only time will tell
Other notes: Some interesting cocktails and good mocktail selections, too, plus main-floor toilets
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