Dick Mack's, Dingle – Co. Kerry
There are a few truly iconic pubs in Ireland, whose name is known to more or less every person in the land. Dick Mack's is one of those pubs.
Dick Mack’s opened in 1899 and three generations later, is a wholly atmospheric experience in the heart of Dingle, County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. Tea and sugar bins stamped with the Mac Donnell family crest and motto ‘As you like it’ are relics from the early 1900s, when Tom Mac Donnell who was stationmaster at Tralee and Dingle Light Railway & Tramway opened the bar to provide light refreshments to its passengers.
Tom ran a grocery and general store up until his death in 1938. It was also during this time that he would purchase two small casks from the Jameson Distillery in Dublin which were delivered and then placed behind the bar: these would be used to make a simple form of blended whiskey which was then bottled into ‘Tom Mac Donnell’s Whiskey’. Today there is only one known empty bottle which contained this whiskey in Dingle.
After Tom’s death the pub was taken over by his son Richard Mac Donnell who established a successful boot store. It was then that the pub became known as Dick Mack’s and his name was put above the door, a ‘k’ added for aesthetic reasons. Walk into Dick Mack’s today and timber floor to ceiling shelves are still filled with shoeboxes and shoes, buckles, trimmings, tools and nails; all a reminder of times past.
Today the bar is owned by Dick Mack’s son, Oliver James Mary Mac Donnell, the eldest of twins, an eccentric character who is as big a draw as the pub itself. Working under Dick Mack, Oliver continued the leatherworks and used to travel to the Dandelion Market in Dublin to sell leather belts and carry out shoe repairs. He also laid down one of Dingle's most famous landmarks, the Walk of Fame outside the pub, honouring some of the famous actors, writers, politicians and sportspersons who have enjoyed a tipple at the bar.
Today Dick Mack’s grandson, Finn is running the bar and the tradition of entrepreneurship hasn’t been forgotten nor has a respect for the past and its traditions. Finn has resurrected the shop half of the bar and after years of silence one can once again hear the ping of hammer on leather on iron as custom made leather belts are crafted to the delight of customers young and old during the summer months. The phrase ‘Step Up and Get Waisted’ is back!
Conversation flows at Dick Mack’s and it was during the course of a conversation and a tipple on a quiet winter's evening, that Finn met Peter White of the Irish Whiskey Society, where they set in motion what would be Dick Mack’s next undertaking. This would be to increase the already impressive whiskey selection available to its customers. This has now been achieved and there is now a superb choice of Irish whiskeys including some limited additions as well as whiskeys from every region in Scotland together with some impressive international names. Whatever your taste in whiskey, you'll find it in Dick Mack's, together with enthusiastic staff, smitten tourists and friendly locals alike. Finally, another unique feature of Dick Mack’s is the fact that the water used in the pub and surrounding buildings is drawn from their own well!
Last piece of advice: the front bar with its two small snugs in Dick Mack's is so great, that you are likely to completely forget to explore the rest of the pub. Well, do. There's more great little quirky rooms at the back and the side of the bar. If you decide to try a different whiskey in each different room, you could be in for a long night!
From April 2013, Dick Mack's will have 4 rooms available to rent, these feature four poster beds, are en suite and located above the bar with on free on street parking. Booking will be available over the phone or on their website.
As they say in Dingle: Where is Dick Mack’s? Opposite the church, where is the church? Opposite Dick Mack’s!
Dick Mack's Pub, Green Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Tel.: +353 (0)66 9151787
Web: www.dickmackspub.com (site under construction)