Idlewild’s racing green exterior bears little obvious signage indicating its name, only a neon ‘bar’ sign protrudes overhead. On closer inspection, the metalwork beside the door has this establishment’s typographic logo fashioned into it at right angles to the ground. It’s more than unobtrusive, it’s borderline unreadable, though attractive in its own right.
There seems to me a rather obvious reason that the name is obscured, especially given that this bar is located directly across the road from the bar which owns the whole having no name thing in this town. And the reason is this: Joseph Todhunter Pim, quaker businessman, 17th President of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (1896-1900), proprietor of Pim’s department store, patron of the George’s Street Arcade and a man who briefly, in 2016, had two new bars in Dublin city centre named after him.
Unfortunately for the Fade Street branch of authenticity via historical association, JT Pim’s on George’s Street got their foot in the door first, leaving the would-be Tod Hunter Pym’s bar [sic] to become a nearby and related speakeasy and this establishment to seek out a new name.
I’m pretty sure many people will have heard this lecture before, but at this stage of the tumultuous year that is 2016 AD, the rules of the New Dublin Bar game are well established. Your bar will be located along some axes measuring association to olden times via the names of former and associated businesses, and by the levels of exposed brickwork and copper piping. Also by this stage of the year, this kind of pattern recognition really means a lot less: who cares if a bar is aping a generic style if it serves up the goods. It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with, as it were.
Idlewild might be named after the airport that became JFK Airport, or Roddy Woomble’s peripheral Britpop noiseniks or even Outkast’s 2006 musical. I didn’t read that part of the menu, and at this stage, how can anybody care? The things that work best for Idlewild have nothing to do with this. It’s on Fade Street, an excellent street for eating or drinking on, and it has seats outside. It has good Guinness (€5), a Boiler Maker menu which nets you a beer and a shot for a tenner or under and very chatty staff. And, yes, it is a very pretty bar, and it even boasts an extremely bright staircase on the way up from the toilets, which makes you feel slightly like you’re ascending to the afterlife, potentially to hang out with another dead Quaker businessman.
14 Fade Street, Dublin 2
Words: Ian Lamont
Photos: Killian Broderick