Is there any greater pleasure than easing yourself into the weekend by catching up with friends over a perfectly poured pint? How about bundling into the warmth of the pub and watching the world go by? Well that’s exactly what we did last Friday.
Sitting quietly on Wicklow Street, across from the iconic Brown Thomas, sits Mary’s Bar and Hardware, the site which once was home to the historic Wicklow Hotel. This city centre hotel was a regular meeting point for Micheal Collins and his close Irish Republican Army friends. It is said that the porter at the hotel, Peter Doran, was an informer for the British Army and Micheal Collins had him executed.
Seeking shelter from the cold weather on a rainy Friday afternoon, myself and a friend stumbled upon Mary’s Bar. We were immediately greeted by a friendly barman and took two seats available at the bar. The crowd was reflective of the afternoon hours, with pockets of conversation adding to a gentle hum of noise in the bar.
I am a firm believer in the medicinal properties of whiskey and feeling slightly under the weather, I ordered a Roe & Co and Ginger Ale (which happened to be on offer at just €6.50). My friend opted for a Murphy’s Stout, similar to Guinness with a slightly sweeter taste. The whiskey was smooth and completely hit the spot, while the Murphy’s was rich, creamy and was the ideal choice on a cold day.
Across from the bar, the wall was adorned with all manner of DIY essentials. Everything from nails, screws, fire lighters, paint cans and even copy books that every child in Ireland had to write their homework in (am I the only person who remembers writing about our daily escapades the “My News” part?)
While we enjoyed our drinks, we took in the sights of the bar, filled with every shape and size bottle of wonderfully coloured liquids. Whiskeys, Gins, Scotch and Bourbons all on display, along with an assortment of old school sweets.
Throwing us right back into nostalgia, we were reminded of our younger days when a pound would make you the richest child in the world and your arms sore from carrying all the sweets you could buy. Retro sweets of Apple Drops, Refresher Bars, Sherbet Lemons and a personal favourite, Wilton’s Macaroon Bars, are all available to those who want to indulge their sweet tooth.
For bottled beers, BRÚ Brewery’s range was on show as well as Wicklow Wolf’s selection of ales. A good compilation of gin was available with over 12 brands, including Irish brands Dingle, Mór, Listoke and Gunpowder, along with the various tonics.
For Whiskey lovers, Mary’s is a dream. There is a whopping 40 Irish whiskeys to choose from, with prices starting at €5.60 for Jameson up to €34 for Teelings’ 24 Year Old Single Malt.
The more adventurous among you can try Galway’s Micil Poitín. The bar also features a substantial range of Scotch and Bourbon and an interesting Japanese Nikka Pure Malt was also at one’s disposal.
If you’re feeling peckish, why not order what the bartender assured me is “the best toastie and pint in Dublin”. For just €8.00 you can get a toastie packed with thick cut slices of ham and gooey melted cheese, along with a pint of Guinness.
The bar man cooks the sandwiches behind the bar while expertly juggling pulling pints and taking orders. The glorious smells wafting from the grill were heavenly. If it was not for a dinner I had planned for later, I would most certainly be ordering a toastie myself.
A change of bar staff saw an equally friendly and enthusiastic staff member serve us our next round of drinks. Feeling revived from the magical Whiskey, the bar woman suggested I try a Pink Gin, to which I happily obliged. My friend wanted a light beer and the bartender gave us both tasters of a couple of beers, with my friend settling on Birra Moretti. The pink gin was sweeter than my usual preference, but it was a refreshing change with a fruity twist.
Chatting to the bar woman, she told us they had another bar with board games downstairs. Being the competitive person that I am, we took out drinks and headed down. The basement is equally as charming as upstairs, with even more cosy alcoves and a fully stocked bar.
We settled in an inviting corner and played a few board games while we finished our drinks. The pub was starting to fill up, but the crowd was laid back with people keen to relax and unwind rather than party the weekend away.
Mary’s is cool and casual without being pretentious,. There are plenty of inviting nooks and crannies for you to hide away in with a good drink, or why not drop by on Tuesdays for the trad music sessions at 7.30pm. The staff were all welcoming and chatty, with good knowledge of the drinks on offer as well as the ability to pour a beautiful pint of stout (that alone is a winner in my book).
Mary’s is throwing it back to the old days when the pub was a one stop shop for the community. Whether you’re thirsty, hungry, need a spare light bulb or just fancy a chat with your friendly bartender, Mary’s is the place for you.
Mary’s Bar and Hardware
8 Wicklow Street,
T: (01) 6708629
Sinéad is a Culinary Arts graduate from DIT. She is a passionate cook with a love of fine dining and modern Irish cuisine. A gin lover, Sinéad loves seeking out cosy new pubs and sampling a variety of craft beers.
If she’s not dining out, Sinéad loves travelling the world exploring new cultures and cuisines. Working with TheTaste allows Sinéad to fully immerse herself in the Irish food industry.