Category Archives: History

Nuggets of gold chivvied out of Mulligan’s rich past

Mulligan’s draw – the original

Not all pubs have been so well-known for so long. This advertisement for the Irish Hospital Sweepstakes was part of a campaign run in the early 1960s.  


The Sweepstakes’ organisers were aware of Mulligan’s fame and used it in this line drawing in the Irish Press edition of 24 July, 1964.

The text at the top reads: ‘Joyce knew Mulligan’s and his Select Bar and he trod the familiar streets on his way there. Mulligan’s is part of Joyce’s Dublin and the visiting much-travelled much-read tourists find their way there to pay homage, among them, in 1947, after leaving the Marines, John F. Kennedy.

The artist includes number 10 which today has the sign ‘Mulligan’s’ across the ground floor. In present times, number 9 and number 10 have the same top roof level but in the sketch, number ten is lower than number 9. There also appears to be a sign on number 10 advertising, perhaps, another business.

Hidden Mulligan’s

Not all elements of Mulligan’s history are easy to spot on the premises or indeed well-known about.


One of the bartenders, Billy Phelan, kept a bird cage that was on the premises and was about to be thrown out. It is known that a bird was kept in Mulligan’s and up until the 1960s one of the then owners, Paddy Flynn, kept a cat.

Billy Phelan and Lorraine Doyle



The inscription reads: Gary O'D 12/03/99
The inscription reads: Gary O’D 12/03/99

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In 1999 a painter with the initials G O’D,  did some work inside the building and left his initials and date in hidden areas. One is in the front bar alcove, the other is above one of the the partially concealed window shafts in the front lounge.


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However, a third remnant of more ancient history lies above the porch of the entrance to the front bar. It is a horse-shoe embedded in the ceiling. The origin of this is obscure. It may have been a sign for good luck.

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One of the previous owners, James Mulligan, who ran the premises from 1875 to 1931 was a keen pony-trotter. Sam Greer’s sadlers shop was close to Mulligan’s for most of the twentieth century. It may have been a present from them to Mulligan.

The year Christmas arrived in Mulligan’s

In December 1989, Christmas decorations made their debut in Mulligan’s as recorded in an article in the Evening Press…

Tinselled decadence in Mulligan’s

Evening-Press-1-September-1954Even though I know this is likely to cause a major rift among the faithful, I have to do my duty and report the facts. For the first time in living memory, Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street has put up Christmas decorations.

image_thumb207Great skeins of tinsel cling to the mahogany; there is a gold star in evidence in what the aficionados call ‘the old side’ and in the lounge (to which carpet was recently introduced) there is further evidence of tinselled decadence.

The mutterings from the back room can now almost be heard on O’Connell Bridge. Introducing Christmas decorations to Mulligan’s is about the equivalent of burning incense in Christ Church Cathedral, but, to be fair, not everyone is averse to the notion.

Peter Roche entertaining the late Barney McKenny of the Dubliners and friend in Mulligan’s front lounge

In Mulligan’s last night we had the annual Christmas draw – a great civic occasion masterminded by Peter Roche and designed to bring good cheer to hundreds of people.

You could have heard the proverbial crowbar drop as Calonie Maguire drew the first of the winning tickets. Alas, as for the past twenty or so Christmases, yours truly was among the also-rans. I think I’ll abandon Mulligan’s draw and start playing the national lottery.

Peter Roche, left, during a break in filming of the highly successful television series The Tudors

A great night was had by all, but there was one sad disappointment.

The Maître Chef de Cuisine of Mulligan’s, who had worked so hard in preparing for this occasion, was, alas stricken with flu and couldn’t attend.

More’s the pity – that man’s truffles let alone his Pâté de Foie Gras are irresistible.

The mystery surrounding Italia ’90 and Mulligan’s

While most of Ireland was focused on the homecoming of the Republic of Ireland team on their return from Italia ’90, several people in Dublin became distracted by the loss of a coat belonging to Peter Roche, one of Mulligan’s most loyal customers.

This article from the Evening Press, 3rd July, 1990 revealed details of the mysterious events…

A nervous Jack Charlton during the homecoming from Italia '90. Later Charlton said he could not understand how anyone was not killed, given the crowds and the crush
A nervous Jack Charlton during the homecoming from Italia ’90. Later Charlton said he could not understand how anyone was not killed, given the crowds and the crush

The home-coming of Jack Charlton and the Irish squad on 1 July brought the capital to a standstill. Among the crowd of well-wishers on O’Connell Street was Peter Roche, who, by now, had ensconced himself in the role accorded to him by Con Houlihan as Mulligan’s public relations officer. The Evening Press reported curiously that the Irish World Cup spirit had scored a hat-trick in relation to an overcoat and listed the ‘scores’:

Scene of 'the crime' - the Gresham Hotel, Dublin
Scene of ‘the crime’ – the Gresham Hotel, Dublin

ONE: Mr Peter Roche gave his top coat to a girl of about 13 who was complaining to her father about the cold as they awaited the cavalcade outside the Gresham Hotel. Mr Roche temporarily left his vantage point as it became apparent that the Italia heroes wouldn’t be along for a long time.

On his return, he couldn’t find his beneficiaries in the dense throng. Apart from the loss of his coat, problem was, [that] a bookie’s ticket, on which over £200 was due was in the pockets.

Worse, the Yankee bet on the Curragh Budweiser on Sunday had been placed on Saturday on behalf of a friend. Yesterday morning, as soon as the bookies, Early Bird, Tara Street, opened Mr Roche asked office administrator Mrs Cluskey not to pay on the dockets.

Peter Roche with Billy Phelan
Peter Roche with Billy Phelan

TWO: The girl and her father, not being able to find Mr Roche, left the coat with everything intact on the nearest barrier. That was where Mr Kealey, of George’s Place, off Summerhill Parade, came in. Having found the unattended coat he took it to Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station.

There, an officer, with more than a little horse sense, found the bookie’s dockets and referred Mr Kealey to the Tara Street turf accountants with the observation on the back of the docket: ‘Owner may recover item (coat) by calling to Fitzgibbon Street sub station.

There were a number of successful dockets in the pocket on yesterday’s Budweiser Derby.

Peter Roche, right, with fellow sport fans
Peter Roche, right, with fellow sports’ fans

THREE: Mr Kealey called to the bookie’s office in Tara Street yesterday afternoon and was directed by Mrs Cluskey to Mulligan’s pub, Poolbeg Street, which Mr Roche occasionally frequents. As it happened, Mr Roche wasn’t in but barman Noel Canning and customer Paddy Dixon from Kilbarrack, who were aware of the coat drama, took control.

Mr Kealey, who had the vital racing dockets given to him by the Gardaí, accepted a bottle of orange from Mr Dixon, the punter collected his winnings and Mr Roche retrieved his white gabardine.

Mulligan’s and poetry

Mulligan’s has inspired poets to pen rhymes about its mysteries and its people.

See also ‘Mulligans of Poolbeg Street ‘ by Terence Browne under Stout Poetry>History

John Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street

by James Cassidy







Literary figures flowered

In John Mulligan’s bar.

Fame flourished fast

And travelled afar.

Was it the company

Or was it the drink

That prompted these people

To put pen to ink?

Pub Crawl

by Vincent Caprani

(Stanza 3 of 8)

liz first pint guinness

Or Poolbeg Street – that famous joint, where Mulligan’s boast the grandest pint

And students line the ancient bar and ’Press’ men down their cutline jar-

For ‘cubs’ and ‘comps’ can quickly sink pints as black as printer’s ink

[‘Cubs’ refers to cub (or trainee) reporters; ‘Comp’ refers to compositors (type-setters)]

Ideal summer holiday

by Leslie Craven


The summer of my soul would be

A jigsaw of geographical fantasy

A cottage on the Burren shore

Aran gleaming hazily

Behind the cottage, Mullaghmore

Harbour nodding lazily

Not least, near east,


Yeats’s fiddler playing merrily

The evening pint, by reach of feet

In Mulligan’s house on Poolbeg St.

(Readers’ competition of the Irish Times, 11 July, 1988)

Lenten exercises

by Leslie Craven


Abstain from drawing the dole.

Fasting is good for you and can be done anywhere.

Abstain from work. Meditation is better and can be done in the ancient cloisters of Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street.

(Readers’ competition of the Irish Times, 13 February, 1989)