February 9, 2010

Reflections and Drinking in Ireland (part IV)

Oliver St. John Gogarty’s (4.0 out of 5)
Fleet Street and Anglesea Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

A multi-story yellow structure with murals and flags out front, Gogarty’s is pretty hard to miss. Furthermore, it is a destination you should not pass by. Is Gogarty’s ‘touristy’? Yes. Is Gogarty’s a fun cultural experience? Absolutely! There are four levels at Gogarty’s. The first is a street level wrap around bar area with a sound system playing top 40 music. In this facet alone, Gogarty’s is not impressive. However, like an 80’s fantasy film this is just the mediocre beginning of the journey. As the hours go by, you climb the stairs and the party intensifies. Finally, David Bowie appears in a giant bubble. Just kidding, but I did get my ass grabbed by a 50 something Welsh woman.

Better yet, you can have 3 weird French guys tell you how "gangster" (add requisite hand motions) Detroit is. Maybe it was their teeth, the man purses, or their bad dancing; I had to get away and up the stairs. Lucky, because the second floor features another bar along with a cozy stage and seating area. By the time you have had a few drinks and get to the second floor, your wallet should be lighter. Even by Dublin standards, the drinks at Gogarty’s are a few Euros high. Still, you will find an outstanding selection of drinks and the lines tend to be low due to a high number of bars and bartenders. The second floor has a folksy feel with traditional music playing and a smaller crowd. The second floor also includes an open-air smoking patio. A handsome courtyard style area, a smoker can bring his or her drink and not have to leave the bar. The second floor’s dark lighting and intimate audience with the musicians is a nice place to be when you start to get tipsy. Afterwards, up the stairs you go again.

The third floor is bright, open and loud. As you walk in, yet another live act emerges.  This time, you will hear some Irish standards but also some modern rock.  There is a buzz to the room best associated with a really good house party.  In the close quarters, conversations with those around you come easily. The mood, the lighting, and the music: it all has the feel of a strictly plutonic good time. Who knows what might happen on the third floor? Once, I played Fisher-Price mini-golf on the cobble stone floor with a group of Brits dressed in garish golf attire. In fact, they were ‘playing’ an 18-hole (pub) round of drinking golf with par (beer) values assigned to each stop. If you really fall in love with Gogarty’s you never have to leave. The fourth floor is a small hostel. The rooms are basic and affordable, if not a little loud. Still, few places in Ireland are louder than…The Temple Bar.