A true gem of the north side, this inner city bar stands proud as a jewel in the sun on the end of one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets. Having closed its doors as St. Mary’s Church back in 1964, the building remained dormant for over three decades, falling into disrepair until eventually being sold to a developer who set about the extensive seven year renovation the structure would eventually see.
A strange relic, steeped in history, the building appears juxtaposed in its surroundings. With a modern glass exterior and external stairwell wrapping around its tower, the façade immediately catches the eye of all that pass by the busy streets on either side.
Under it’s current management for ten years now, The Church, as ambitious an operation as it may have originally seemed, now runs as smoothly as an Easter mass. Though there is something almost blasphemous about indulging in libations under the roof of this once clerical structure, this may simply add to the charm.
Once inside guests experience the full extent of this seven-year renovation project. With two floors, wrap around balconies acting as the restaurant and a central galley bar on the ground floor, it is quite an impressive room.
Passing by the display cabinet of Church Bar T-shirts and souvenirs there is no doubt that the trade relies quite heavily on tourists here, though the price of a pint in no way compares to the extortion one can experience around some of the tourist friendly taverns of Temple Bar.
It’s the addition of a large wrap-around beer garden that catches the sun up until the last rays of the day are gone what makes this somewhat ‘touristy’ spot a prime contender for any local looking to make the most of a sunny day in town. In-fact this beer garden regularly appears in many top ten lists.
Food-wise the selection is consistent with that of any traditional pub with a choice of appetisers, main courses, salads and sides all served at a reasonable price. However, for those looking for finer options there is the choice of the gallery restaurant that opens from 5:00 pm on the first floor.
From this elevated vantage point diners are treated to a birds-eye view of this unique space as well an up close examination of the old Renatus Harris organ, once played by classical composer Handel, which still stands as bold as brass, looming over the bar below.
The two storied stained glass window of the west wall illuminate the room during the daytime, shining directly onto a marble bust of Arthur Guinness. Those who stick around into the evening will be sure to enjoy some of the traditional Irish entertainment that is put on each night.
One interesting fact about The Church is that Arthur Guinness was married in this very building. That being said, it would surely be rude to leave without sampling a pint of the black stuff.
Having previously devoted every ounce of his spare time to music, Tony is more commonly found these days in a kitchen than on a stage. With experience in writing on festivals and shows around the country he has recently turned his pen to more culinary exposés. With a particular penchant for craft beer he can often be spotted travelling from one bar to another in search of the latest brew to hit the market.