It's always a treat visiting the 'The Dublin House' when in New York. This is an authentic Irish themed pub. No frills, old school bartenders, great atmosphere, all complimented by posters, prints, curiosities and antiques from Ireland.
Irish owned and operated for 100 years, The Dublin House first began operating during Prohibition as a speakeasy in 1921 by the Caraway family. “Special arrangements” with authorities made it possible for the bar to continue selling alcohol discreetly right through America's "dry" years. After prohibition, it opened as a legit pub when alcohol was legalised in 1933.
The Dublin House has a ludicrously grand exterior. Its stunning, one story tall, neon harp announces its presence from streets away. The neon harp made its first appearance in 1933, at the end of Prohibition. The bar's owner, Dublin born John Carway, was apparently ready to advertise. When sailors would dock nearby during the war years more than 80 years ago, many of them made the Dublin House their first stop in Manhattan. They would find the bar by following the green and pink glow of the sign in the distance, the same neon harp that lights the pubs entrance today. It’s now one of the oldest neon signs in Manhattan. It has a great combination of lettering and a beautiful graphic of the harp that is very reminiscent in design and style of the 1930’s and 40’s. It’s very clear it goes back to that era.
When you enter the Dublin House you feel transported back to a simpler time. You get the feeling that this pub holds many stories from years and beers past. As you walk through the double doors you see a narrow, fairly nondescript bar with a linoleum floor and a low acoustical tile ceiling, a row of stools along the left, a row of two seater booths to the right. There are unique references to the old country scattered around the pub, Irish posters, images of Irish towns and antiques. An old Timex wall clock is located near the front with a pay phone cubby in the back, two sure signs a pub has been around for some good time.
Mike Cormican, a Dublin House bartender, who was born in Ireland, bought the pub in 2006 after 85 years owned and operated by the Caraway family. The Caraway family were before my time, but a good publican is a person with character, concerned about the welfare of patrons, and Mike is that man. He now hosts the Dublin House as a lasting relic from times gone and ensures to serve the freshest Guinness on tap. If you want food, you can bring your own or have some delivered. One of the bartenders recounted a story of a woman who came in and asked what time the kitchen closed, he replied “1976”.
True Irish pubs foster warmth and fraternity, they are devoted to conversation, the Dublin House is one of those pubs. It’s hard to define, but let's just say, you can tell a pub has a heart when it has old locals and dogs in it. The Dublin House has heart!
Painting of The Dublin House below by artist Robert Beck.