A friend of mine once remarked. “The problem with Christmas is, it brings out all the amateur drinkers.” He had a valid point. In the lead-up to the 25th of December, office parties, social club gatherings, classmates, and other loose collections of connected people take the arrival of the festive season as an opportunity to come together, socialise and become, well, festive.
In this feature Limerick born journalist Ger Leddin looks at what has become over the past decade a festive tradition all over Ireland — The Twelve Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl — and how to do it in style in his native city.
Meeting Point for a meal – Bobby Byrnes, O’Connell Avenue
Every successful pub crawl needs a good start and let’s face it if you are about to embark on a night on the town you’re going to need sustenance; like the General said: “an army marches on its belly.” In other words get some grub inside you. This is important, and there’s no place better to start than Bobbies. Strategically located at one end of the city, within walking distance of the city centre — which by the way should be your final objective — get a decent meal in Bobbies, use the early moments of sobriety to discuss, debate and finalise the protocols for the silly games you’ll be playing throughout the night. Then “let the games begin.”
Leaving Bobbies, cross the road to O’Dwyer’s. The red brick building is easy to identify. Here you can begin your pub-crawl in earnest; a good place to carry out the first of your chosen tasks. A traditional task for the first pub could be, no drinking with your right hand.
2. Willie Sextons
Ok, time to move on. Leave O’Dwyer’s behind you and continue down O’Connell Avenue until just before the Crescent you’ll turn left and see Willie Sextons in front of you on Henry Street. Willie’s is a fine pub; long narrow, and with a large beer garden to the rear, the ideal place to continue with your schedule of tasks. Experienced Twelve Pub veterans would suggest that the nominated task could be — no talking in this pub. Trying to mime your order to the barman should be interesting. Just remember Willie once played rugby for Ireland and is a big lad, so keep it clean folks.
3. Myles Breen’s
Time to move on, a quick five-minute walk down Henry Street, turning right up Shannon Street will bring you to Myles Breen’s pub. Breen’s is a fine, normally quiet establishment in the heart of the city, a pub which everybody knows. A great place to get a sandwich if you or any of your group is feeling that little bit peckish. The bar is normally frequented by a steady clientele of regulars but they’re a jovial lot so won’t mind a brief interruption by a hoard of Christmas jumper wearing louts – hopefully. Perhaps this would be a good place to introduce another element of your tasks — no using the loos. It does make for speeding up the process and moving on to the next port of call.
4. Squire McGuire’s
Now you need to backtrack a little to Lower Cecil Street and Squire McGuire’s city centre pub. This is a grand pub, lovely pint’s and known for its occasional karaoke nights. If you’re in luck, your visit might just coincide. Make singing along a challenge; it mightn’t win you any friends but it’s all in good fun.
5. Tom Collins
At the intersection of Cecil and Catherine Streets, you’ll find the red facade of Tom Collins bar. Another long narrow bar, in quieter times it’s frequented by Limericks intelligentsia. Don’t worry with a few pints inside you, you’ll fit right in. expect this bar to be packed, so a wise move might be to use the Catherine Street entrance through the smoking area. Now might be a good time to do a quick head-count and regroup your forces. College students beware; there is a strong probability that you will bump into your lecturers here. You might be advised to be on your best behaviour.
6. Jerry Flannery’s
Moving on, perhaps it’s time for a bit of music and lively craic. Flannery’s of Catherine Street is definitely the place to visit on your odyssey. A fun-loving crowd who won’t mind the invasion of your merry little group; this would probably be an ideal place to try out one of your next tasks. Perhaps finding a new girlfriend for the youngest single member of your band might be an idea; a drunken version of speed-dating? You’re bound to find a bit of music in Flannery’s and as at this stage you will be halfway into your journey allow a bit of time to regroup.
On a serious note; on a night out, such as this one, you would be wise to have two mature consenting non-drinkers advised of your whereabouts and in phone contact, just in case that there might be a few fallers who need rescuing. You never know! So be prepared.