The summer of the repurposed shipping container
Happy Out café: Bull Island Dublin – sandwiches by the sea
Since moving to Dublin 15 years ago, I have become increasingly aware of an amazing resource that I was missing out on – the sea. This summer, I dove in, and I have since become attached to the adrenalin that comes with taking a dip in the cold waters of Dublin Bay, even with a thick wetsuit for insulation.
I’m part of a What’s App group of sea swimming pals where we share tales of tides and allay each other’s fears of jellyfish. Just two weeks ago, one of our swimmers shared a picture of a shipping container that had appeared, as if overnight, on Dollymount Strand. “New little coffee hut on the island,” she wrote. “I can report the coffee is good.”
It has been the summer of the shipping container. Joining the ranks of repurposed transportation units alongside Eatyard and Container Coffee is Happy Out, a project by food enthusiasts Karl McCullagh and Brian Hanratty. The structure sits about halfway down Dollymount Strand, and now that it’s here, it seems so obvious that it’s what the strand has been missing.
McCullagh, who lives in Raheny, has a background in financial services, but he was also the previous owner of the excellent Bakery on Essex Street West , and last year he released a golf book, The Little White Ball, with his golfing pal Colin Byrne. Happy Out has been a passion project of McCullagh’s, in the making for the last two years.
I’d been inspired by shipping container projects I’d seen in Australia and the UK, and I wanted to bring it to Dublin. I always had Dollymount beach in the back of my mind,” says McCullagh.“What a perfect combination . . . the shipping container down on the strand with the ships going past full of shipping containers.”
McCullagh sourced the two containers from Rush Fleet down in the docks and he drew up the design himself. They worked with outside suppliers like Extra Space Solutions, Airtech engineering and Doorfix to create a compact, space-smart and secure container.
After a Saturday swim, friends and I huddle up to Happy Out to get a taste of their sandwiches. There are currently four on offer and it’s not your bog standard fare. Most impressive is a vegetarian toastie named Asparagorgeous (€6), which is oozing with yummy cheese, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and crunchy vibrant tops of aspargus. A Clucking Unbelievable (€6) sambo is a bacon, chicken and avocado delight. McCullagh gives his nephew and business partner Brian Hanratty the credit for coming up with those inventive sambos.
A ham and cheese sandwich (€5) is a little average by comparison but McCullagh has a wide range of customers to cater for here, from kids to grannies, so a good old fuss-free ham and cheese seems appropriate. The bread is sourced from Bread Naturally in Raheny and Tartine Organic Bakery in Grange Abbey, Co Dublin. There are cookies and cakes supplied by the outstanding Camerino Bakery on Capel Street. I can also report that coffee (€2.30 for an Americano), made with Roasted Brown beans, is indeed very good.
Plans for the future include creating an indoor seating area in one of the containers for 20 people, windbreaks around the decking, and soups on the menu to make it a year round destination. And what’s with the name? “It captures why everyone would come down to this location,” says McCullagh. “For the beach, the swimming, and the fresh air.”
Happy Out, Bull Wall, Bull Island, Dollymount Strand, Co Dublin. www.happyout.ie