Category Archives: Flann O’Brien

Celebrating the Cusack Stand

Fifteen years ago, the journalist Sean McElwee paid a visit to Mulligan’s and wrote this review of it for the Anglo-Celt.

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Poolbeg Street is tucked between Trinity College, the Liffey, under the shadow of the high office buildings of Apollo House and Hawkins House in nearby Hawkins Street.

When I paid a visit to the premises recently, it was quite obvious that those who value the unique quality of a traditional Dublin pub were well aware of the existence of Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street. At 8 o’clock the place was buzzing with an abundance of joviality.

This was the favourite haunt of the staff of the Irish Press from nearby Burgh Quay, and even today you will find many of them still frequent it in the company of journalists from other national media. One of the country’s most celebrated journalists, Con Houlihan, is held in special esteem in Mulligan’s for a plaque has been erected in his honour in the lounge.

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Tommie Cusack with Cora Roche at the wedding reception following her marriage to Peter Roche

Tourists from all over the world come here to sample a real pint of Guinness in an authentic Dublin pub.

During my visit to the premises I was approached by a visitor from Newcastle asking if this was one of James Joyce’s favourite haunts. Joyce, of course, was a regular visitor and ensured that Mulligan’s would remain forever etched in the social and literary history of the city by mentioning the premises in one of the stories from Dubliners.

Its ambience has changed little from the days of Joyce at the turn of the last century. It is still a haven of conversation free from the intrusion of any of the modern means of entertainment or communications. In the bar, there is no piped music, no radio, no television, no telephone and prominent notices on the walls remind drinkers to refrain from using mobile phones on the premises. Television is tolerated in the lounge area only for major sporting occasions.

Food is never served on the premises. This is strictly a drinking pub and has changed little since it opened in 1782.

Thomas Cusack arrived from Lavey to serve his apprenticeship as a barman in Mulligan’s nearly sixty years ago and has worked there ever since.

Today he still retains an interest but plays a less major role in the business serving only for short shifts in the mornings in order to meet some of his regulars of many years.

 

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Gerald Cusack, Courtesy Anglo Celt
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Gary Cusack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still in good health, he lives on the old Navan Road, but management is now in the capable hands of his two sons, Gerald and Gary. They continue to foster its old ethos and charm and ensure that Mulligan’s will retain its reputation as one of Dublin’s finest pubs.

Anglo-Celt, 19 October, 2000.

Myles ahead

Flann O’Brien used the Scotch House, Burgh Quay, Dublin, as his ‘office’. However, he had dozens of other haunts in Dublin, including Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street, which is the near site where the Scotch House once stood.

Flann O'Brien
Flann O’Brien

As the years have gone by, his reputation internationally has grown enormously. However, one of the great story-tellers in the English language, Graham Greene, spotted the talent early on…

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Cover of first edition of At swim two birds, 1939.

Writing under the pseudonym, Myles na gCopaleen, Flann mentioned Mulligan’s every now and then in his column in the Irish Times. In this particular extract, he refers to the theatrical association which the pub had because of its proximity to the Theatre Royal which once stood opposite the pub.

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Extract from the Cruiskeen Lawn column by Myles na gCopaleen, Irish Times, 13 July, 1953.

The puzzle of ACCISS decrypted

Brian Ó Nualláin/Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen (1911-1966) was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist, considered a major figure in twentieth-century Irish literature.

Flann O'Brien
Flann O’Brien

He frequented Mulligan’s (and indeed many other pubs in Dublin) and mentioned the Poolbeg Street saloon in his column for the Irish Times written under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen.

In the early 1950s, he began writing about a Lord Mayor of Dublin and these articles — with the mysterious word ACCISS prominently displayed — eventually led to Flann being removed from the civil service.

Section of article by Flynn O'Brien writing under the pseudynom, Myles na gCopaleen, from the Irish Times 24 December, 1951
Section of article by Flynn O’Brien writing under the pseudynom, Myles na gCopaleen, from the Irish Times 24 December, 1951

In one of the columns, Flann mentions a party he held (though the story appears to be fantasy) at which, Jack Grealish was among the invitees. Grealish knew the writer well and referred to him as Flann in conversation.

Section of article by Myles na gCopaleen in which Jack Grealish is mentioned
Section of article by Myles na gCopaleen in which Jack Grealish is mentioned

Grealish worked for the Irish Press and brought the future US president, John F. Kennedy to Mulligan’s for a drink in 1947.

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Jack Grealish with his pet terrier, 1941.

The mystery of the acronym ACCISS is explained with great flair by Val O’Donnell in this video. Click on the picture below to unravel the ACCISS mystery…

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