We’re sticking near the city centre in the series this week, though on the Correct Side of the river, with The Flowing Tide. While likely best known as a theatrical pub – it’s right across from the Abbey Theatre, and has been associated with actors, writers and other ne’er-do-wells since the early 20th century – there’s a lot of other history to this spot, too. It’s been a pub since the 1820s, and, as reported by the Irish Times, was even hit by an artillery shell meant for the nearby GPO during the Easter Rising in 1916. And back in 1907, it was one of the scenes of the Playboy of the Western World Riots, as angry crowds spilled out of the Abbey Theatre; give the Three Castles Burning episode on the topic a listen, it’s fascinating stuff. So, for a theatre nerd like me, this is an ideal spot to stop pre-show, but it’s also pleasant to simply wander in on a Sunday afternoon for a quiet pint. Indeed, the last time I did just that, I ran into an older gentleman from my neighbourhood who does it on a weekly basis – it’s his standing trip away from his/my usual haunts, and we had a lovely chat about it, and about which of our closer-to-home locals we most enjoy for different occasions.
Although the pub closed last summer, it re-opened, now under the same ownership as The King’s Inn, another Northside pub, after only a few months of well-considered renovation – it was, to be fair, looking a little rough beforehand. Now, as in the nearby Palace Bar, the stained glass is very much a focus, the theatrical posters are thoughtfully distributed around the walls – and the snugs are especially inviting.
As mentioned, I do love a good theatrical pub; The Harp in Covent Garden fills a somewhat similar niche, albeit on a larger scale, catering to theatre-goers, performers, tourists and locals alike (but with good cask options as well – you knew I’d have to bring that up). And while there’s no cask in The Flowing Tide, there is a broader-than-you-might-expect tap list, with Irish craft stalwarts Scraggy Bay and Ambush, as well as Beamish for the Corkonian stout enthusiast. You’re more likely to run into That Person who insists that Beamish is better than Guinness, versus the Guinness Enthusiast, but both are well catered for, as are whiskey fans.
And as for the pub’s name, I’m partial to both the Shirley Collins and Eliza Carthy versions of Just As The Tide Was Flowing (Roud 1105), although the probably-correct local lore says it’s simply down to its proximity to the Liffey rather than being named after the song. And while the music here isn’t always trad, but it does tend to (understandably) be more Irish than English folk, but every time I walk by (or stop in), the song gets stuck in my head. Normal folk music nerd problems…
Where: The Flowing Tide, 9 Lower Middle Abbey St, North City, Dublin
Access from the city centre: You are just north of it; the Luas Red Line is directly outside (Abbey Street stop)
Sport: While it’s a theatrical pub, it does draw pre- and post-GAA crowds on match days and there are screens
TVs: More downstairs, though there’s a big screen on big GAA/rugby days
Music: Lots of different acts downstairs, quiet enough to talk upstairs
Family-friendliness: Everyone seems welcome, but there isn’t a huge amount for non-theatrical kids to do
Pub-crawl-ability: High – Temple Bar if you are a masochist, but other, better options within a short walk include The Palace Bar, Piper’s Corner, Bowes, Mulligan’s and The Confession Box; also near The Silver Penny if you need a ‘Spoons
Local sites of note: Abbey Theatre, Gate Theatre, The Spire, NATIONAL WAX MUSEUM, GPO, Ha’Penny Bridge, Trinity College
Haunted: Surely, there’s an imprint of the Playboy Riots? Synge would be a fun ghost, but there’s so much scope for other theatrical ghosts (the best kind, obvs)
Other notes: The Neptune Lounge in the basement is also re-opened and has many screens for sports events and there is live music