We heard someone say a few years ago that it was no longer a case that individual pubs competed with each other for business, but rather that it was a case of competing areas. Perhaps it’s not so much a case of areas competing, but areas coming together. One of the best examples of this is Dame Lane and the Dame District.
The pubs and businesses on this narrow stretch of not quite pedestrian street at the back of Dame Street have come together to work in their collective interest and have created for us a fantastic area to eat, drink, and be entertained.
Each pub and bar on the stretch has a different offering, spoiling us all for choice. You’ve got historic pubs, musical pubs, pubs for big parties, pubs with great food, and in between them all you’ve got the occasional festival atmosphere and live music acts.
The Bankers at the top of the lane towards Trinity Street has set a few trends among pubs of their size around town. The success of their upstairs Teller dining room has spurred other pubs around the city into focusing more on food in separate and previously unused function room areas of pubs. They do an excellent trade in traditional dishes, serving some excellent Irish produce. They’ve also more than dipped their toes into Irish craft beer and whiskey. They proudly fly the flag of the Wicklow Wolf brewery outside above the pub, making their support clear.
They’re one of those pubs where Dubs and tourists can intermingle, having an exchange of craic that tourists come to expect of the city. All of these factors combine to make it one of our favourite small pubs in the city.
At the other end of the lane there is another amazing small pub known for live music, racing, GAA, and a comradely feeling among the regulars. The Dame Tavern is a family run pub that really does command the respect and love of a lot of Dubliners. Anyone who has been to their Sunday music session will understand just why people love this pub so much. It’s the kind of place people will just drop into for a pint and a chat with anyone who’s behind the bar because they know that they’re welcome. They have a new function room upstairs that is perfect for anyone hosting a small party in a very central location.
The Dame Tavern, like all of the pubs on Dame Lane benefits from the ability to greatly expand their capacity into the lane on days when the weather allows it or the size of the crowd demands it. Whether you’re in the bar or standing outside, the music and the atmosphere will keep you coming back.
Photo from Stags Head facebook page.
Dame Lane also boasts one of the jewels in the crown of Dublin pubs, The Stags Head. The Stags is one of only 16 remaining Victorian era pubs and the interior has remained equal parts immaculate and impressive for hundreds of years now. The facade is impressively decorated by metal busts of stags with gold antlers, pillars of a Victorian design (you can see these outside Whelans too), and the near-iconic Tyson clock on the 3rd floor.
The pub does a brisk trade in chowder, sandwiches, and other lunch favourites, as well as one of the best pints of stout in the city. Upstairs plays host to Ukelele sessions and birthday parties. Downstairs they have comedy and a one man show about Ulysses. It’s a cultural hub as much as it is a drinking house.
For those wanting a slightly later night out with cocktails, dancing, and live music of a bit louder variety, these are supplied in ample quantity by both 4 Dame Lane and The Mercantile.
4 Dame Lane
4 Dame Lane has a beautiful loft area that caters for large party and corporate bookings. Even Michael D Higgins was here himself a few months ago! They do some good cocktail deals downstairs, and there’s usually DJs on creating a big atmosphere. For small groups it’s a great place for a few drinks in the horse shoe shaped booths.
The Mercantile must be one of the biggest pubs in Dublin. They’ve got 2 main bar areas, one upstairs party area, a basement venue, and another venue to the right where they manage to fit in a 16 piece brass band that play there on a regular basis. They do an excellent trade in after work parties, people looking for live music, dancers looking for South American rhythms, and they’re not a bad spot to watch a match either.
Outside on the lane itself there is regular live music organised by the Dame District to keep the crowds outside entertained in a way that you don’t find in many spots in Dublin. See it as it’s best on a days like Pride, St. Patrick’s Day, or when there’s a big sporting or musical event in town.
Dublin isn’t blessed by many outdoor areas where people can congregate and have a pint. Dame Lane fulfills this function for the city, and through the partnership of the pubs in the area, they create an atmosphere that must be the envy of any European city.