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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Oughterard to Dublin, Ireland

Woke up to rain this morning and it didn't stop until 6PM. Drizzling and dreary! We really can't complain, though. The weather hasn't been that bad.

We stayed a little longer speaking with Anne. We learned she has dual citizenship with the United States. She earned citizenship when she came to the United Sates to work as a nurse. She lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Roxbury is recognized as an official neighborhood of Boston.

She and her sister both worked as nurses and they shared an apartment with other nurses.

A couple doors down lived a man named Patrick whom worked as a carpenter. Well, he was from Ireland, too, but from another section of the country than Anne. Patrick lived with other guys. Sometimes, they would drive the ladies to work. Being they were all from Ireland, they socialized on different occasions. Well, they got married and then moved back to Ireland. Anne's family had owned a bar and bed and breakfast when she was growing up and she knew someday she wanted to run a B&B. Patrick helped her cook this weekend but he works as a carpenter.

Driving to Dublin, took us mostly on N and M routes. You can made better time.

The landscape is quickly greening up. Anne told us the "usual weather for this time of year" is behind by two to three weeks. Daffodils should have passed blooming and tulips should be out now. She has sown some packets of flower seeds but it looks like they have only popped up through the soil the last day or two. She told us they have had a long cold and rainy winter.

There is no reason to have a car in Dublin, so we decided to turn the car in. As there was a constant steady rain, Michael decided to drop the bags off at the Albany House before we took the car back to the airport. It isn't easy driving in Dublin as many streets are one way and you have to go "way out of your way" to get to a street that actually is close by. Also, parking in the city is extremely limited and terribly expensive.

We are staying at Albany House which overlooks the vibrant Harcourt Street in the city center. We are within walking distance of many of the city's famous landmarks. St. Stephen's Green is only a two minute walk and a nine minute walk to the Trinity College.

We asked for a suggestion for dinner. We finally decided to try Devitt's of Camden Street which was one block over.

Devitt's is a long-established traditional Irish pub located on Camden Street, in easy walking distance of Dublin city center. Close to all amenities and only a 10-minute walk to the center, Devitt's caters to customers of all ages, from all corners of the globe.

They serve a wide range of drinks, including (they think!) the best pint of Guinness in Dublin, other local beers such as Liberties Dublin Ale, Five Lamps Dublin Lager and Franciscan Well Rebel Red Ale from Cork, plus of course a typically fully-stocked bar.

They have an extensive gin menu, including some world-class Irish gins such as Hendrick's and Gunpowder, and a huge selection of Irish whiskies including Jameson, Redbreast, Powers, Paddy, Method & Madness, Midleton, Green Spot and Yellow Spot.

The lights suspended from the ceiling were quite unique. They took a Waterford decanter (of course) and cut off the bottom. A light was suspended down the neck of the decanter.

There are 84 cabinets along two walls. You can purchase a bottle of Irish whiskey ranging in price from 250 to 600 euros. They will lock it in one of the 84 units and give you the key. The only empty cabinet was #1.

Here is a little history about Devitt's.

"This area, which was originally known as Kevin’s Port in close proximity to St. Kevin’s Gate, was an ancient medieval gateway to the City of Dublin. There has been commercial activity conducted on this site – 78 Lower Camden Street - for over 200 years. A shrewd lady named Mrs. O’Neill operated a thriving lodging house business here in the 1850's and 1860's during the growth period connected with the advent of rail travel. In the mid 1860s Mrs. O’Neill sold the business to James White, Organ Builder, whose business was associated with the boom in church building.

First License November 1871 In the summer of 1871 no. 78 came on the market as James White was moving into the city center, and Christopher C. Clinch, who previously traded from no. 92 (Ryan’s), acquired this property as a licensed premises. It appears Christopher Clinch was attracted here primarily because it was a better source of business than no. 92 as a consequence of the fact that Pleasants Street was then a designated trades area. Additionally this location afforded Mr. Clinch greater access to the more prosperous Victorian citizens who lived on Upper Camden Street and the surrounding streets.

In the spring of 1872 the name Christopher Clinch, Tea, Wine & Spirit Merchant, was prominently displayed above the door here. Christopher had strong competition on the corner opposite (no. 77) from George Mordant, a very successful Dublin publican. Next door to George was the Pleasants Asylum for elderly disoriented ladies. In the following decade Christopher Clinch grew his business year on year, attracting a more affluent Victorian residential trade as his premises also stocked fine teas, coffee, snuff, semolina and other grocery items. Frequently the No. 33 Rathmines Horse Tram brought added business to his door.

Christopher Clinch Moves On In 1884, Michael Cusack – a name that would later be associated with this house – was busily founding the GAA in Thurles when Christopher Clinch decided to take his profit and move on. In that year Christopher sold out to Tipperary publican, Andrew C. Ryan. Andrew was scarcely in the front door when a new neighbor of considerable financial repute moved in next door to him – the Ulster Bank. The Victorian neighborhood liked what they saw, and they also liked to pop into Andrew Ryan’s for the odd potion of gin or Irish whiskey.

Camden Street was now in popular demand as a most elegant Victorian community with great resources and facilities at their fingertips. Around this time also the St. Louis American Flour Mills commenced trading next door to the Ulster Bank (no. 81). George Mordant of no. 77 had by now moved on to that great emporium in the heavens, and his wife, the Widow Mordant ran the premises. These were good times for Andrew Ryan as the upper end of Lower Camden traded far more prosperously than the Wexford Street end.

The Arrival of Patrick Ryan By the late 1880s the affluence of middle class Victorian Dublin had made Camden Street one of the most popular and profitable thoroughfares. It was at the zenith of its power. The Rathmines Horse Tram had now been replaced by the electric tram, which ran back and forth past the premises every few minutes, bringing with it custom and good fortune. At that time, there were many Dublin publicans enviously eyeing Andrew Ryan’s pub and making overtures for him to depart. In the summer of 1890 the name Patrick Ryan, Tea, Wine and Spirit Merchant, was seen above the door for the first time. Patrick was a most seasoned and respected Dublin publican, who additionally ran a thriving pub business at 110 Thomas Street. No. 110 Thomas Street was a famous pub in the heritage of the Dublin licensed trade in that this house was the launching pad of James and John Power, and the original home of Powers Whiskey in early 1800s. In moving to 78 Lower Camden Street, Patrick Ryan would interweave the history of Powers Irish Whiskey with this premises.

But Patrick Ryan knew what to do when he got his feet inside the door. His first action was to commission a stylish Victorian pub renovation complete with imported mahogany from Africa, stained glass mirrors, brass fittings and state of the art dark wood chests to hold and better preserve his teas, coffees and other items. Immediately the turnover and patronage increased and this became one of the most popular pubs in Dublin’s south city. Patrick Ryan enjoyed the financial spin off here in the early 1890s but felt it was best to sell on when things were going well.

Thomas J. Keogh By the winter of 1894 another respected Dublin publican, Thomas J. Keogh, was pulling the pints here and enjoying the magnificent trade along this thoroughfare. By now the Camden Markets were bringing a busy day trade and these streets were populated by some of Ireland’s most distinguished businessmen. Just down the way at no. 24 Wexford Street was the business of William Ruddell’s Cigar, Snuff and Tobacco Manufacturing business. Ruddell, famous for his pipe tobacco, also had outlets at 147-148 Francis Street and no. 134 James’s Street. He additionally developed a major tobacco business in Liverpool. Perhaps Thomas J. Keogh paid too much for this premises in 1894 because he had moved on within five years, selling out to Joseph Leech in 1899.

Joseph and Peter Leech When Joseph Leech arrived here in 1899, he had identified this oasis as the place to live out his golden years but by 1902 he had passed on to be succeeded by his son Peter, who would remain here for the long haul. In many respects Peter had landed on his feet in taking the reins here. Dublin was then the second city of the British Empire and prosperity seemed all about. Camden Street was thriving although the local citizenry were not enamored by the amount of street traders who, in their eyes, were soiling their splendid neighborhood.

In the Joycean Dublin of 1904, when Joyce was himself ejected from Camden Hall for looking up the skirts of a leading opera singer, Peter Leech was busy pulling the pints of this affluent Victorian pub that had a strict admission policy. Joyce was an inveterate imbiber but it’s unlikely that Peter Leech would have tolerated his eccentric behavior very long. There was great commotion here in the following years when no. 34, which had been vacated by the Camden Street Theater, was now leased by the militant Countess Markievicz, who used it as a drilling center for Ireland’s boy scouts.

World War, Independence and Economic Slump Leading up to World War 1 Camden Street was one of the most prosperous and popular streets of Dublin. Next door was the ever-present Ulster Bank, and down the way was the fashionable Theater De Luxe that attracted all the latest acts from London. Few would have envisaged that all would change utterly with the outbreak of war. In 1914 the Great War commenced and countless thousands of Dubliners marched away to the trenches creating an economic vacuum that was felt throughout the Dublin licensed trade. Rations followed and supplies of beer and spirits were restricted creating great financial distress.

In Easter 1916 Camden Street ground to a halt during the fighting as British troops were advancing from Portobello Barracks. All the pubs were closed for a week and local resident, Councillor Richard O’Carroll, who lived up the street at no. 67, was cruelly murdered by Captain Bowen-Colthurst. Following the War of Independence and the establishment of the Irish Free State, the licensed trade stumbled into a deep economic slump as the infant state was starved of capital. Joseph Leech, who witnessed unprecedented change in his lifetime, remained here until 1943 when he was relieved by Jeremiah Aherne.

Olympic Ballroom and Street Traders Times were economically challenging when Jeremiah Aherne made his debut here in 1943. Blackouts and rationing were the order of the day. But Camden Street fared better than most in these years in that the markets brought great crowds at weekends. But soon a new venture that commenced life as a skating rink would become the economic savior of Jeremiah Aherne’s Bar.

The Olympic Ballroom came into prominence in 1950s as all of Ireland flocked to the “ballrooms of romance.” No. 78 was the prime feeder for the Olympic Ballroom as Ireland’s males sought liquid courage before advancing for the dancing fray. This house literally did a roaring trade in Baby Powers and naggins as no alcohol was sold in the Olympic, but the wily punters concealed them past the doormen. There are many anecdotes surviving of ‘Lugs Brannigan,’ the legendary law enforcing guard, standing on the opposite corner observing the clientele leaving this pub and going into the Olympic Ballroom.

The street traders were always a thirsty lot and this pub became one of Dublin’s Singing Pubs for a time in the 1950s and 1960s. Among the clientele who frequented this house were the Behan family, and the young Brendan Behan unleashed many a ballad here.

Willie Devitt and the Cusack Stand In the late 1970s, Willie Devitt relieved Jeremiah Aherne from his long years of toil. Limerick-man Willie ran a very respectable and responsible premises here for many years that enjoyed great patronage from Ireland’s Gaelic games community – especially hurling. The walls of Devitt’s became and remain a veritable reference archive to the great moments of hurling. All the epic games and players are featured here.

The Arrival of the Mangan Brothers In 2016 Paul and Eoghan Mangan took possession of this great watering hole and have since utterly transformed the premises in the traditional idiom while enhancing the character, ambience and appeal of this house.

Devitt's serves fantastic pub food.

I had the butternut soup.

We both had the fish and chips. It was served with a very unique salad. I would describe it as a fresh salsa on lettuce leaves.

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