The Stag's Head, Dublin City, Est 1895.
Located through a narrow passageway off Dame Street or through Exchequer Street or Georges Street. Housed in a sturdy redbrick building with impressive marble columns that have supported many a punter leaving worse for wear over the years. The folklore behind the pubs name is that a runaway stag, destined for a dinner table in Dublin Castle, was stopped in its tracks when it ran its head right into the original hostelry that stood here way back in the 18th century.
A pub has existed on this site since the 1770's. The premises first attained fame in the 1830's as 'John Bull’s Albion Hotel and Tavern'. One of the most popular premises of its age. The Stags Head really came into its own after being taken over by George Tyson who arrived in Ireland in the 1870's to establish a thriving Menswear business in Grafton Street. He acquired this premises in the early 1890's and commissioned a leading architect to build Dublin's most advanced and distinctive Victorian pub. It was to be the first pub in Ireland to be electrified, controlled by a switchboard from behind the bar. The pub opened in October 1895, shortly after Dublin's wittiest playwright Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour. When it opened its doors to the Dublin public, its patrons were distinguished patronage and respected members of contemporary Victorian society.
Designed by architect A. J. McLoughlin, the three storey pub was built of Co. Dublin redbrick, with a façade of chiselled limestone, relieved by polished granite columns, sills and plinths. A polished granite frieze bears the pub's name in distinctive gold letters. Heavily moulded jambs and red granite pillars frame the main entrance, set beneath a canopy and an oriel window of Victorian bottle glass. Above the stag's head with gilded antlers over the entrance, is a clock on which Tyson's name is still emblazoned. His initials echo along the wrought iron railings beneath the pale green bay windows of the upper floors. Colourful flowers billow out of troughs and baskets along the wall.
When you enter, old world values confront you. Everything here is of authentic Victorian origin. A polished mahogany bar capped with the same polished red Aberdeen granite installed by Tyson. The bar has a Victorian architectural pattern, long and punctuated by partitions. Ornate stained glass and lamp fittings are everywhere, all embossed with the stamp of the Stags Head. Dark oak whiskey casks are recessed into walls, complementing the richly panelled Renaissance style ceiling above.
The counter curls into a snug, this area once served as a fashionable Victorian smoking room. The snug is a dark, comfortable sanctuary, the sense of space exaggerated by surrounding mirrors. The porch, windows and roof lights are filled with heraldic stained glass, including more stag heads. A stuffed fox takes pride of place in the ground floor snug (known by many locals as the "Stag's Arse").
This pub aims to be all things to all patrons. In the basement during the summer months, trad bands belt out to the delight of visiting tourists on bar stools, while the ground floor is your typical pub atmosphere. There, you will find the stag's head itself above the ornate bar where you can sup a Guinness and put the world to rights. Upstairs has the feel of a private members club, with red leather seats and big picture windows that look down to the street below.
The beauty of this pub is that it is virtually unchanged since Tyson's day, and yet it has also jumped into the 21st century and landed firmly on all four feet. The who's who of past drinkers includes James Joyce, Michael Collins and Quentin Tarantino.
The Stag’s Head is always a great experience. Cosy, warm and glowing at night time and during the day wafts of sunlight filter through the stained glass windows. Dark wood, sunken seats and a mysterious old air. Simply lovely.