The Brian Boru Pub (P. Hedigan) – Dublin
There are lots of people, who when buying a house, will always check out the local pubs first. Well, the Brian Boru, or Hedigan's as it is still often known to locals, is the kind of pub that would make you go out and actually look for a house to buy in this part of Dublin. There are some pubs, which make you think from the moment you walk in, this is it, this is my local, and the Brian Boru is just such a pub.
It was established in 1840 as a grocers and pub, as was very common in those days. The Hedigan family took it over in 1904, the same year that the first Bloomsday, made famous by James Joyce in his novel Ulysses, took place. The grocery side of the business ceased in 1946 - Dublin was still on ration books then - and the family focussed solely on what was already a very successful public house. The pub was already famous for bottling its own Jameson and Powers whiskeys, both distilleries being only a few miles down the road, and it is said that the Brian Boru was the only pub in the country that did not run out of whiskey during World War II. The whiskey for Hedigan's in those days was solely matured in sherry casks and the pub had 250 gallon vats in the cellar. Bottling took place once a month and simple tap water was used to bring the whiskey down to 70% proof, the standard strength for whiskey back then. Hedigan's Powers whiskey had the reputation for being the best on the Northside of Dublin - what punters didn't know was that for every 100 gallons of whiskey bottled in the cellar vats, Michael Hedigan used to add a gallon of sherry - a practice which would be frowned upon by distilleries nowadays, but which ensured the high reputation of Hedigan's Powers whiskey! Hedigan's was one of the very last whiskey bonders in Dublin to bottle their own whiskey. Michael's last bottling was in November 1973 and to this day he has kept a couple of those bottles as a memento to a lost era.
The Brian Boru is now a very vibrant and large pub in this famous part of Dublin. It has lost none of its Victorian charm - dark mahogany interior, stained glass windows and plenty of old whiskey memorabilia. Of note is the beautiful DWD mirror in the main lounge - DWD was another nearby distillery, which closed down in the 1930's. Look around and you'll see old Powers miniature casks, old bottles and various instruments and implements that would have been used during bottling. In honour of their historical association with the Powers Distillery, The Brian Boru converted one of their large snugs into a Whiskey Snug, where guests can enjoy a whiskey surrounded by Powers memorabilia. The Brian Boru also has its own Whiskey Bar, with a large collection to reflect the many Irish whiskeys now being produced in Ireland.
The Brian Boru is however much more than a whiskey pub. It is extremely popular with locals - very good food and extremely friendly staff, being the main reason. There is also always something going on in this very Dublin pub: traditional music every Wednesday from 9.30pm, regular pub quizzes, music sessions and even theatre and poetry events upstairs in the Dublin Writers' Room. Michael Hedigan is still very much part of the pub, a real gentleman, who is probably as knowledgeable about Irish literature as anyone. He even produced his own film about Joyce and other famous Dublin writers. Check out their website or Facebook page for a list of events and do say hello to Michael if you see him.
The Brian Boru is just a short taxi/bus ride away from Dublin city centre and the Old Jameson Distillery. It's the ideal place to eat and relax, especially if you plan to visit the nearby Botanic Gardens or Glasnevin Cemetery, and it's the perfect pub for enjoying that unique Dublin atmosphere away from the beaten tourist path.
The Brian Boru - 5 Prospect Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9
Tel. + 353 (0)1 830 4527