Sizing Up The Competition: Dublin's Finest Micro-pubs

Dublin

Dublin is a city of pubs. There's in or around 800 of them in Dublin city and county. For the most part they all do well in business terms. But, there's always going to be competition, and to do this they sometimes have to distinguish themselves from the others. To be known as the oldest pub in a city is a big boon to trade. Just look at The Brazen Head, which proudly proclaims to be just that and is filled with tourists looking for drinks, music, and food every night of the week. But what about the smallest pub in Dublin? 3 pubs vie for this distinction, some more accurately than others.

We start our search for the smallest pub in Dublin in 'The Confession Box' on Marlbrorough Street, a street of 4 pubs that once boasted 16. The Confession Box is small, no doubt about it. As you enter the usual sight is of a horse shoe bar with older men sitting atop stools all facing in towards the bar staff. Aside from that area there's maybe 2 more tables around which you'd fit a few more people. Upstairs is another smaller space with a few tables. Up here they could lay legitimate claim to the title of 'smallest balcony' in a Dublin pub.

 

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To be fair to 'The Confession Box', they have never claimed to be the smallest pub in the city. Nevertheless, the reputation persists. Even without the title of smallest pub they have enough history to attract tourists and locals alike. It's famed as a hideout for Michael Collins and other famous revolutionaries during the War of Independence. It was in this pub that Collins and others would receive communion from sympathetic priests. It's from this story that the pub derived it's name. Find out more here.

 

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Our next pub makes a more bold claim with 'The smallest bar in Dublin!' painted on the windows of the pub. 'The Lotts' on Liffey Street has caricatures of famous Irish artists and musicians such as Cillian Murphy, Phil Lynnott, and Bono on their windows. This would suggest that they're targeting themselves at tourists, making the mantel of 'smallest pub in Dublin' quite a draw for the uninitiated. Their claim as smallest bar is made through their 'snug bar', a very small space with minimal seating, a fireplace, and a generally pleasant atmosphere. The only problem with this claim is that this small snug area is attached to a massive cafe bar at the side.

The two bar areas are linked and inseparable. The clincher for us is that when having a drink in the tiny snug bar you have to walk all the way through the other dining room/bar area and downstairs in order to get to the bathroom.

 

While it may be a very small space, it can't really be counted as a separate bar and thus falls short of the title of Dublin's smallest pub.

Finally, we move onto the pub that makes the claim and backs it up. Walking up Dawson Street towards Stephen's Green you could easily miss the narrow red doorway that brings you downstairs into Dublin's actual smallest pub. The Dawson Lounge has a winding staircase that doesn't accommodate 2 way traffic very well. Once downstairs you'll immediately notice that the ceiling is very low. So low in fact that there are tactically placed cushions directly above some seats. There must have been a trial and error approach to the interior design in this pub. Wherever people seemed to be hitting the crown of their head would then be covered in leather cushion. This design feature follows through into the ladies toilets where above the lavatory there is a sloped roof with another courtesy cushion.

 

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As small as it is, the pub never seems to be more cramped than any other pub in the city. It's certainly at its most peaceful during the day when the crowd is limited to inquisitive tourists and the odd academic from Trinity College dropping in for a pint on their lunch break.

So there we have it; one pub that doesn't want the crown, one pretender to the throne, and the rightful King. Naturally, it's a very tiny crown.