In reading about Dublin pubs with a lot of history, so many of them make the claim to have been a meeting or drinking place of Michael Collins. With the anniversary of the 1916 rising on the horizon, we’re going to do a few lists and articles that connect the pubs of Dublin to the events and people of this time. Here’s a few Dublin pubs in which Michael Collins drank or has some connection to.
In our research we’ve found a number of pubs that were regarded as IRA safe houses, but we weren’t able to find any specific mention of Collins. These include: Walshs Stoneybatter, The Seven Stars and Phil Ennis’ on Parnell street, Backhand pub on Coleraine street, Mackens in Church street, Big Mackens North King street,and McGowans in Francis street.
If you know of any other pubs that Collins went to, please comment below or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Stags Head
The big fellah would apparently come into the Stags Head for a whiskey from “Mick’s barrel”, which they kept specially for him.
The Old Stand
Collins apparently held informal meetings of the IRB in the Old Stand on Exchequer street. He had an office nearby at 3 Andrew street. The pub was known as ‘The Monico’ at the time.
The Brazen Head
The only mention of Michael Collins having been in this pub is from the pubs website and the Visit Dublin website. It does have a history of playing host to rebellion leaders of the past, such as Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone. Given that they’ve had these leaders in for a few scoops, we’ll take their word on Michael Collins.
The Confession Box
Collins would apparently drop into this pub, then known as ‘The Maid of Erin’, and receive communion and confession from sympathetic priests from the nearby pro-cathedral. There’s still some Collins memorabilia on the walls today.
Bull and Castle/ The Castle Inn
Collins was a patron of the pub in the early 1900s when he was the treasurer of the IRB. It was a brave move, considering the whole of the British establishment in Dublin was around the corner in Dublin castle.
Source: ‘Historic pubs of Dublin’, Aubrey Malone, 2001. p25.
Collins was in regular attendance here in Davy Byrnes, most notably for cabinet meetings upstairs. He’s reputed to have sent a telegram to the pub during treaty negotiations asking them to send him over a brandy. On the night the treaty was signed, it was toasted by Arthur Griffith and other members of the executive council of the free state.
Source: ‘Historic pubs of Dublin’, Aubrey Malone, 2001. p90.
It’s said that Collins drank in here when he was on the run from the British, and even had a drink when there were Black and Tans on the same premises.
Source: ‘Historic pubs of Dublin’, Aubrey Malone, 2001. p98.
In another instance of Collins hiding in plain sight, Collins had several IRB meetings in this pub. The owner of the pub, John Davy, was a magistrate and very pro British. A lot of his trade came from the army barracks in Rathmines. Collins would keep his gun cocked under the table in case he was recognised.
Source: ‘Historic pubs of Dublin’, Aubrey Malone, 2001. p133.
In the early 1900s Collins set up an ammunition factory in one of the buildings attached to the pub. It’s then likely that he had a few drinks in the pub.
Source: ‘Historic pubs of Dublin’, Aubrey Malone, 2001. p214.
The pub and premises was used by Collins and ‘the squad’ during the war of independence. It was owned by the Kernan family, whose daughter Kitty went on to become Collins’ fiancé.
Crowes in Ballsbridge was established in 1906 by Timothy and Catherine Crowe, who had a friendship with Michael Collins and Sean Treacy. The pair often drank in the pub, resulting in the occasional raid by the Black and Tans.
A 1969 guide to Dublin pubs mentions that the pub on this site at the time was used by Collins as a meeting plot. The book further mentions that “It was also the last pub in which the invincibles had a drink before leaving for the phoenix park.”
Source:’Irish pubs of character’, Roy bulson, 1969. p.81
Details online are scarce about Collins’ use of this pub on Amiens street, but we do understand that is was mentioned in a Collins’ documentary as a pub where he held meetings. Images of Collins hang in the pub to this day.
Unfortunately this is now an apartment block on the corner of Gardiner street and Parnell street, but this former pub has one of the best Collins stories. Apparently the proprietor, James Kirwan, was himself quite high up in the movement, as were some of the barmen. Tom Bourke, a barman doing his apprenticeship in the pub at the time, recounts this story about a raid in the pub.
“The Black and Tans came into Kirwans one day and I was there just a few months and they went to search and said, ‘Put up your hands!’ And they walked down to a big snug at the end of the room and there was a private meeting going on there between the late Michael Collins and others. So the Tans spent a couple of hours there drinking. Oh, the Tans had drinks galore. Then Michael Collins excused himself to go into the toilets and he didn’t return. So that was one narrow escape he had.”
Other pubs of significance:
While Collins didn’t drink in The Bank bar (as it was…a bank at the time) they do have a bust of him and a room named after him. They also have a framed copy of the proclamation, busts of other 1916 leaders, and other items of historical significance.
Kavanaghs, The Gravediggers
If you feel like actually paying a visit to see the Big Fellah himself, you can go to his grave on the excellent Glasnevin cemetery tour. You can then go for a pint in The Gravediggers pub right beside the cemetery. The closest pub to Michael Collins these days.