Whisky Magazine Issue 3
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Michael Collins laid plans at the Palace Bar in Dublin, and Mary Robinson launched her bid for the presidency in the snug. Tom Atkin just went for a drink
You'll never come across a stag night or a hen party in The Palace Bar. Like jukeboxes and slot machines, such things are banned from this famous Dublin haunt. ‘This is a conversation pub,' says its friendly, broad-faced owner Liam Aherne. Even the dark wooden bar is divided, confessional style, into three stalls to encourage friendship and casual acquaintance.
Music detracts from conversation, so it stays out in the street. ‘I might allow a fiddle in on St Patrick's Day, but that's it as far as entertainment is concerned,' adds Aherne. Well, almost. On the night I visited, a boisterous brass band from Dax had set up stall on the eve of the Five Nations rugby international between France and Ireland. ‘What can you do?' asked Aherne, with an indulgent smile. ‘I'm a great sports fan. In fact, I've just put a bet on Ireland to win the Grand Slam at 50-1. We've got to start winning some time, haven't we?'
The Palace Bar is a friendly place. ‘If I go down the road for a pint,' Palace Bar regular Niall Quinlan told me, ‘I'll be drinking it on my own. Here I know I'll strike up a conversation with three or four people. It's like being in a country pub. You won't sit alone in the corner.' Even if you do, you're surrounded by memorabilia: photos and drawings of Irish politicians, writers and sportsmen; Flann O'Brien's typewriter, and a hurling stick signed by the Tipperary team which won the All Ireland Championship in 1989.
The Palace Bar attracts an unusual crowd. ...