The Long Hall, Dublin, Est 1766.
The Long Hall, a pub abundant in traditional charm and exuding Victorian originality. The Long Hall is the sort of place Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have created if he'd taken to pub design. The room is vast, reminiscent of a Victorian train station, its rich red hued carpet split into two distinctive halves by an elaborate arched partition.
The title Long Hall is derived from Dublin publore as a consequence of the long narrow hallway snug, no longer part of the pub, that ran parallel to the back bar. Until 1951, the bar was men only but women sitting in this hallway were served through hatches. Other than that, very little has changed here in over 130 years since publican, Patrick Dolan, in the springtime of 1881 completed the refurbishment of this ‘Affluent Victoriana’ jewel. You will find no pitch pine here or the affectations of Victorian working class pubs; this architectural creation was decidedly in synchronisation with the commercial, class structured and socially aspiring image of George’s Street in the Dublin of the 1880's. The pub is the product of splendid Victorian design symmetry in which the sum of its parts including elaborate gold leaf enhancements, meticulous handcrafted wood carvings, beveled and ornate glass all come together to indicate to us this was one of the leading lights of 19th century Dublin publife. Only the finest mahogany of the age was availed of in handcrafting the backbar. There was also a novel design departure for Victorian bars in that the liberal use of mirrors, both concave and convex, intended ostensibly to create the image of a larger premises but especially to challenge and poke fun at the conservative, prudish and austere values of the Victorian age.
Ornate decorative fittings are featured throughout the pub. Fabulous Victorian fittings are sumptuously carved and the counter is dressed with brass trim. The pub is punctuated by exquisite partitions off set with gold leaf, ornate stained glass and bevelled mirrors. The lighting is warm, nostalgic and low level, redolent of the Victorian gaslights preserved behind the bar. There are large Victorian dispensers behind the bar that once held port and brandy. Directly in front of you the thoroughfare leads into a larger rectangular room through an oval shaped, mahogany stained gloss doorway that has a vintage timepiece clock as its focal point. This fitting bears the fine craftsmanship of the Victorian age and wears the patina of its years superbly. For anybody with an appreciation of Dublin’s social history this Victorian pub jewel is a delight to the senses.
There was a licence on this site in 1766 when South George’s Lane became South George’s Street. By 1830 we find Henry Mailey and his son Hezekiah running a busy tavern here in addition to their other pub at 2 Lower Baggot Street. Hezekiah remained here until his death in 1855 after which time his widow Sarah took the reins. She was not a natural publican though and within two years the premises closed its doors for a short time before Patrick Parker, Grocer & Wine Merchant, bought the pub in 1857. At that time there were four premises side by side here, all of whom were in the grocery, liquor and provisions trade. The pub looks across the street to 18th century Georgian redbrick buildings, with the magnificent fairy tale turrets and spires of George's Street Arcade to the north.
In the 1860s, the pub was reportedly a hotbed of Fenian activity. Fervent nationalist and revolutionary Joseph Cromien succeeded Pat Parker here in the spring of 1864, a departure that within two years would propel this old hostelry onto the pages of Irish history. Within weeks of his arrival the pub had become both a recruiting station and a meeting place for the Fenians and I.R.B. (Irish Republican Brotherhood), an organisation dedicated to ending British Rule in Ireland by physical force. On one occasion in excess of 150 Fenians, including Charles J. Kickham, Thomas Clarke Luby, John O’ Leary and John Devoy, were observed entering the premises to attend a meeting. It is known that much of the abortive Fenian Rising of 1867 was planned here and it was here that John Devoy hatched the escape plan to spring Fenian Chief, James Stephens from Richmond Jail in November 1865. But British agents from Dublin Castle had infiltrated both this pub and the Fenian Movement and publican, Joseph Cromien, was arrested here on February 17th 1866 and his pub closed by order of the courts.
Much respected Dublin Publican, Thomas Carroll, bought the premises in 1867 but within four years had sold his interest to a partnership of Robert Reynolds and Patrick Dolan. Dolan soon bought his partner out and in 1881 completed the splendid Victorian renovation you see today. By 1898 another great publican William Fitzpatrick was pulling the pints here and the original Frederick Hafner was making his famous pork sausages some three doors away. In 1912 Fitzpatrick added the large clock over the oval shaped entrance to the back room that he had commissioned from Wekler & Schlegel across the street at No. 36. Charismatic Dublin publican, Patrick O’ Brien arrived here in 1941 and was succeed by current owner, Gerald Vincent Houlihan in 1972. Today the premises is run by Gerry’s son Marcus who vigilantly preserves the ethos of this old shrine of antiquity.
The back of the bar is a warren of deftly shaped baroque mirrors, fronted by shelves, glittering with pewter mugs, brandy glasses, bronze dishes and bottles. At the centre of the bar stands a mantel clock called 'Old Regulator', designed by the Frengley Brothers of Dublin, which confidently declares 'Correct Time'. On the wall, a short poem by Frank Holt called 'In Praise of Guinness' reads: 'In Dublin there's a beauty that has no match, It is brewed in St James's, then thrown down the hatch". A ceiling of deep red embossed oak is bordered by deep and elaborate cornicing. The lamps, all Victorian in style, come in different shapes and sizes, there are globe lanterns, gleaming brass lamps and a miscellany of chandeliers over the bar.
Halfway down the premises, an arched doorway, surmounted by the antique Wekler & Schlegel clock, marks the entrance to the main drinking lounge, originally oval shaped and added to the original pub in about 1915. The lounge is a comfortable room, dimly lit by lanterns and the merry wisps of daylight that seep through a stained glass window overhead. Along the left hand wall hangs a series of old prints called 'The Criers of Dublin' (each focusing on a uniquely Irish object: a Noddy or Chaise for two Persons, or a Hearse or Sedan used at Cork for people of Middling Station); above, a pair of prints depict 19th century scenes, bordered by Antique single barrelled Muskets. On the right hand wall, portraits of double chinned Georgian women are juxtaposed with elaborate mirrors, a Jamaican rum barrel, an old letterbox and classical prints of orientals and deities. A charming grandfather clock patiently ticks to the right.
One of the regulars of The Long Hall was notorious Dublin bad boy playwright Brendan Behan, whose father worked across the road in Dockrells, the well known hardware store. Entering the bar, a line of aubergine topped stools waits by the long, timber counter running along the right side. It was at this counter that Dublin rock legend Phil Lynott sank his stouts during the filming of the video to 'Old Town' in 1982. Over the years, many politicians, playwrights and potwallopers have imbibed here side by side. Though this house zealously guards the privacy of its clientele, some of its famous patrons have been Rihanna, U2, Sean Penn, Richie Sambora, Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen who keeps a special bottle of whiskey behind the bar for whenever he's back in town.