Posted by: susanjcaldwell28 | February 4, 2012


In my teens and twenties when I was out on the tear with my friends, The Bailey would not have been one of our preferred venues.  Sure, we did visit but not frequent it.  We thought it too trendy and preferred to take our drunken banter and boy seeking bods to more down at heel places like The Stags Head and O’Donoghues.  Im not sure how much of going to O’Donoghues was my choice, I actively disliked the ballad wailing place and did vow after a few years of going there four nights a week that I would shoot someone who sang Spancil Hill within a two mile radius of me.

As time went on and I met John and had my kids and my dislike of sport and macho testosterone touting males screaming at screens to equally inarticulate footballers, wonderful advice like “kick the fucking ball” I began to despair of the amount of sports pubs that had erupted in the capital.  it became my mission to find screen free venues or venues that were not wall to wall screened. My research lead me to Russells in Ranelagh and when we were going to town,  The Bailey.   I always felt a sense of history sitting inside or outside the Bailey, looking at Davy Byrnes and recalling it to be a place where hairdressers used to drink but long before that when poets and writers and actors frequented it and The Bailey.  There was a little snug area in The Bailey that was on a lower level than the main pub. My girls used to love to sit there as we partook of refreshment after a day’s shopping and they would read their numerous books or take out their sketch pads and draw portraits of each other or someone in the crowd.  I was not so pleased with the dipped down snug, being naturally curious, it disabled my ability to people watch and get a glimpse into the lives of the people in the pub and limited my nosiness to the passers by.

The other main problem with The Bailey was that they did not serve food and the beer was a little limited, having long since abandoned the need for the chemical fix of  Carlsberg, Heineken and Budweiser, I had a preference for Becks Veir and other pilsner drinks or Italian beers.  Then, something rather spectacular happened, the Bailey had a long overdue facelift.  The exterior was painted a delicious powder blue and some durable floor covering put outside and heaters in situ. The inside snug was bought up to the main floor level and Peroni arrived. At last, a fab Italian beer, and then came the fateful day that I sometimes curse, when menus arrived on the tables.  Perpetually on a diet and never being one to like big meals, the menu contained a “Small Bites” section. We discovered the joy of triangles of toasted bread on a platter with delicious bowls of salsa and black olive tapanade, vegan friendly and fabulous and only 4 euro, what was there not to like?.  The only problem being, I find it difficult to go in there now without partaking of same said refreshment.

Yesterday was a freezing cold day. I went to the gym in the morning and came home to a house that was stocked with the week’s shopping and the fruit and veg that had arrived from the Organic Shop.  The house was clean and tidy and I didn’t have to cook. It was also Friday and John was off to teach creative writing for an hour and we agreed to hook up afterwards, John being much in need of a bevvie after trying to talk to 30 unruly private school students in Dublin’s top league school, the majority of whom thought creative pursuits were a total waste of time as they thought of their careers in banking or law, and decided this doss class was a good chance to conduct as much slagging and merriment as possible.  He felt for the three or four who wanted to listen and had to really strain to hear past the unrelenting din.

I got off the LUAS on a freezing cold day.  I love being 10 minutes away from town and just popping in on a regular basis.  The last few Fridays, John had been supervising exams so we hadn’t met up. The girls were heading off to Insomnia in Donnybrook with friends after school, so it was time for some quality time together.  John rang and announced that he had managed to acquire a couch in The Bailey.  This was good news, getting a seat of any kind on a Friday afternoon in The Bailey was difficult enough, so to acquire a comfy couch was good news indeed.  He asked me would he order a Peroni and then asked did I want the bread and dips, “Oh I shouldn’t, Ill be like a saint from Monday”.  “One each”.  “Oh gosh, ok, lets do it”  I walked in, sat on the comfy couch, sipped my Peroni, kissed my hubbie nibbled the tapanade and tipped our glasses against each other.  The weekend had indeed begun.



  1. Sounds Bliss!! I DO miss Dublin so much sometimes but I guess living in the west has its compensations. I used to meet a boyfriend from Surgeons in The Bailey years ago-he was great fun-I just couldn’t get over my broken heart at the time but it will always remind me of the keeper I didn’t keep. Still, no regrets-like you I get to meet my hubbie of 20 years this summer who among other things is my best friend and great to snuggle up to on a comfy couch in a pub on a cold afternoon. Only thing is Gotham café would call on the way home-another haunt that has survived from way back when!!!

    • Yes Moya, thats where we met the last time, it has been totally refurbed since. Hopefully, Ill meet up with you soon. Ill have to get that name off you re the surgeons guy, I worked there for four years!. Say hi to all in Limerick. xxx

  2. Love the Bailey, although, like you, it wasn’t one of my favourites until latter years. I try not to think that it’s age! Quite surprised that you didn’t nibble the husband and kiss the tapenade Susan. Are you losing your touch? 🙂

    • Nibbling is something I do to my toyboy, Im way more formal with my husband darrrrrling!!

  3. Lovely post Sue – I never drank on the southside of town – the Shakespeasre and Conways and Tom Mays were my haunts after work or rehearsals with Strand.. sisters did the Bruxelles, Baileys scene though

    • Yeah did Conways etc. too years ago, cos it was handy for the bus, but only go North now to visit the Italian Quarter, and at least I can still see south of the river from it so I dont get too panicked!!

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