Friday, October 21, 2005

Drinking in a Chimney - Kehoe's of South Anne Street

Abandon hope all ye who enter here
"The weekend, wha'?"
"Yeah, magic."
"I love going for a few scoops on the weekend. I love me few pints, I do."
"Yeah. But it's hard to find a good pub in town, but."
"Yeah. It's so busy in town, it is."
"Yeah. All those mulchies."
"Yeah. It's hard to find a real Dublin pub anymore - you know, one with a few Dublin characters. Everywhere's so big now, it is."
"Yeah. But I'll tell you where's a great pub in town."
"Kehoe's of South Anne Street."
"Kehoe's? I know it, I do. Kehoe's of South Anne Street."
"You get a lovely pint of Guinness in there, you do."
"Yeah, magic."

If Dublin has nothing else, it has its shibboleths. You get to recognise them after a while - that Damien "Duffer" Duff is currently our greatest soccer player (God forgive you if you say his only rival as a diver is Jacques Cousteau - such a quip would be infra dig, bud), that Dublin needs an All-Ireland, that the queues are very long at B&Q in Liffey Valley and that Kehoe's of South Anne Street is one of the great bars in the city.

Well no, it's not. Or anything like it.

An Spailpín Fánach has been a regular communicant at Kehoe's of South Anne Street since 1996, and it's time to say that the Emperor has no clothes. Drinking in Kehoe's of South Anne Street is like drinking in a chimney only now, thanks to Herr Martin, not as smoky. Kehoe's has sheer walls that climb to the skies, and winding staircases within. And clinging to such furniture, cornices and precipices that will keep them from either falling into the abyss or being trampled beneath each other's hooves, boots or kitten heels, are the punters. The citizens. Those poor schmucks that are the butt of the all the city's jokes.

If you get bored tonight and have the ill-luck to be trapped in the city, take a stroll into town. Walk down Grafton Street, studiously avoiding the beggars, eyes peeled for the junkies and potential violence. Turn left off Grafton Street, and identify John Kehoe's by the humanity bursting out from its doors and onto the rain-swept streets, like the horsehair bursting from a superannuated sofa.

Take a deep breath, open the door, drop the right shoulder and start twisting your way into the bar - ducking, diving, bobbing, weaving. Try to get as little drink spilled on you as possible. If you're wearing white, regret your choice immediately. Don't gag on the methane - that would only spoil it for everyone else. Don't be shocked that there's no room for you on the ground floor. Identify the stairs at the end of the ground floor. Ascend. Duck, dive, bob and weave your way to the bar. Order two stouts - one of self, one for friend. Pay over eight clams for privilege of same. Don't be hurt by rudeness of staff. Hand one stout to friend, keep one for self. Take slug of stout to reduce its chances of spillage on your next journey. Curl your stout in your hand next to your ear, fashioning your arm into the double helix pattern popular with Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

Observe surroundings. Wonder why everybody looks the same. Roar bon mots and philosophical reflections at friend to overcome ambiance and "friendly atmosphere." Imbibe porter. Repeat ad nauseum - literally. Go home - taxis and nightlink buses permitting, of course. Call it a good night out in Dublin. Pray for deliverance.