Barfly: The Lord Edward, 23 Christchurch Place, Dublin 8

No 11: Steeped in history, the atmosphere in the upstairs lounge of this historic pub makes every newcomer believe they’re the first to discover it

The decor at the Lord Edward  has hardly changed since 1904

The decor at the Lord Edward has hardly changed since 1904

 

There’s magic in the air at the monthly singing session in The Lord Edward pub. Steeped in history, the atmosphere in the upstairs lounge makes every newcomer believe they’re the first to discover it. The Songs by the Fireside session is at home here, with its wooden rafters, antique bar and leaded windows.

It’s a well-rehearsed crowd and their wealth of knowledge and honeyed tones make for an elegant and exciting welcome to the thriving Dublin songbook tradition. Half the room is from outside Dublin, but this is still a true-blue gathering, with everyone made local through friendships forged and romances lived long in the capital.

The spirits of Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Nina Simone blend easily with sean-nós and traditional Irish music , all spun delicately (and hilariously) by Peter Grogan, who organises the session on the second Tuesday of each month. He chose a perfect venue.

The Lord Edward stands like a sentinel, defying the city to overtake it. The decor has hardly changed since 1904, except for the loss of the downstairs snug and the gas lights. Tourists come and go, the legal crowd walk from the Four Courts and the locals are loyal customers, says landlord James Lyster, who clearly loves this historic location.

Pubs are in his blood. His grandfather once owned The Glimmerman and James grew up in a pub in Baltimore, Co Cork, before the family returned to run The Lord Edward. He’s that strange breed: a Corkman now at home in the capital. Lord Edward (FitzGerald) himself took up the cause of the people of Dublin, and paid the price. Perhaps that’s his legacy: helping guests become Dubs. If so, it’s a happy curse you’d do well to fall under too.

The next Songs by the Fireside is on Tuesday, June 9th

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