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