Barfly: Graces, Rathmines, Dublin

Its currency is space for conversation, comfort, a welcome for musicians and excellent service

It’s amazing how much culture four walls can contain.

It’s Saturday night in Graces and Aris Arun, the band that has held this bar enthralled for more than 14 years, has captured the crowd again. Doreen Kearns wraps the audience in an emotional song and this quiet bar in the centre of Rathmines stands proud for the night, a strong link in the growing Dublin songbook.

It’s a big pub that harks back to the lounge style of the 1990s. Eamonn Grace and his son run it together, and are renowned for their quiet welcome and straightforward service.

There’s lots of seating, it’s well maintained and full of local characters – who might well watch you come in but are only too happy to introduce you around. They’ll suggest you join them for the Friday night session too, slightly more instrumental, but equally loved. You’ll hear of the famous people that might wander in to join the crowd, and well-known traditional musicians in the audience who are called on to sing or play.

Pubs like this can struggle through the week. They don’t rely on gimmicks or trends and they aren’t hundreds of years old with old wooden snugs. Their currency is space for conversation, comfort, a welcome for musicians and excellent service. It’s one of a few Dublin pubs left that put value on serving your drink to your table and you’ll struggle to get to the bar before Eamonn or his staff get to you.

People are peering through the glass from the street now, intrigued by the music floating out. A small group of 20-somethings cautiously enter, take a seat in the corner and watch the band. Their smiles grow as the strong Dublin character of Graces does its job.

They don’t know it but they could be the future of this special Dublin bar.

Address: Graces, Rathmines, Co Dublin

Published by Gary Quinn

Writer on the Sea Road. Gary Quinn is a writer and editor based in Dublin. He's the author of the Harper Collins book Irish Whiskey (2020) and writes about whisk(e)y for the Single Malt Shop, The Irish Times, Stories & Sips and others. He has won several national and international awards for his writing and media work.

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