I suppose I’ve grown up a bit since I started going to Eamonn Doran’s's original manifestation in Temple Bar, slipping, sixteen years old, around the bouncers or in through DiFontaine’s. It seems that in the time between the closure of its Crown Alley premises and the opening of its Leeson Street iteration, on whatever ethereal plane it inhabited in the interim, Eamonn Doran’s grew up too. Many Dublin pub-goers, especially ones that were pub-going at a young age, will have cherished memories of the grime, the sweat, and of being soaked in pints any time Sweet Child O’ Mine started.
Its full title, Eamonn Doran’s Tavern on the Green, would appear to have aspirations of distancing itself from the dankness and grunge of its, and my, formative youth. Expecting a transposed Doran’s of the past, we did a double take when we walked in, physically slowed en route to the bar by how comparatively classy it was. The interior effortlessly evokes the indie-tavern aesthetic that bars like The Black Sheep and Against the Grain seem to be groping for. Lots of dark wood, low lighting, small windows with bent glass, and an assortment of mismatched chairs and squishy couches make for an instantly comfortable atmosphere. There’s even a dartboard in its own little alcove which, to our shame, we didn’t make use of.
In a further step away from its divey adolescence, gone is the Thin Lizzy-riddled jukebox, in its place a DJ playing only a smidgen of classic rock and plentiful helpings of disco and electro pop. It wasn’t open when we were there, but there’s also an upstairs stage room for live acts. The drinks selection is more eclectic, too, with all the usual suspects being backed up by one or two craft beers.
We couldn’t keep our conversation away from comparisons, and our surprise that the new Doran’s is unrecognisably un-dingy – the toilets being the only part that even approach its grotty history. The smoking area will be missed, though. Standing on Leeson Street is a poor replacement for the beer-jail it used to feel like we were trapped in, observed by, but protected from, the roving hens and stags of Dublin’s “cultural quarter”.
The whole package that new Doran’s is presenting, along with lovely door- and bar-staff, feels like it’s one of the better bars in town. It’s a puzzle, then, why between 9 and 11 on a Friday night it was almost empty – even with drinks promos aimed at keeping the after-work crowd in. Maybe people have yet to find this place, or are worried that their old friend Eamonn is still as embarrassingly messy as he used to be. Rest assured that he’s grown up, moved out of home, and scrubs up well – but after a few drinks he’ll probably get as raucous as ever.
Eamonn Doran’s Tavern on the Green
104-105 Leeson Street
t: (01) 661 8603