Newswire » Culture » Fallon’s ‘The Capstan Bar’

Fallon’s ‘The Capstan Bar’

Fallon’s ‘The Capstan Bar’

Fallon’s ‘The Capstan’ Bar is located in Dublin’s Liberties area on the Coombe and is just beside the Hyatt Centric Hotel. It is only a short distance away from the historic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

The pub’s original name of ‘The Capstan Bar’ comes from a vertical-axled rotating machine called a capstan which was used to haul ropes and cables on sailing ships. Originally, the bar was popular with sailors and dockers from the River Liffey who went there after work. This was at a time when sailing ships, barges and trawlers docked further up the Liffey than today. It became known as Fallon’s after one of its previous owners, John Fallon, who took over the running of the bar in the 1970’s. Another of its previous owners was prizewinning boxer Dan Donnelly, who died in 1820. There is a print of Dan Donnelly on the rear wall of the bar near the restrooms.

The current owner is Conor Linnane. Conor and  his brothers also own the Dawson Lounge in Dawson Street, which is reputed to be Dublin’s smallest pub.

Fallon’s   History

The pubs street front sign makes reference to 1620 and there is believed to have been a tavern existing at this site since then.  Its external brickwork is Georgian which means that this brickwork dates from sometime between the reign of King George I in 1714 and the death of King George IV in 1830.

In 1875, a fire broke out at Lawrence Malone’s bonded storehouse on Ardee Street, where 5,000 casks of whiskey were being stored and this caused severe damage to Ardee Street and the surrounding area. The exploding casks of whiskey resulted in whiskey flowing in streams along the gutters of the streets and caused the fire to spread rapidly throughout the area. The fire even spread as far as the Capstan Bar and damaged it badly.

Although the Lord Mayor of Dublin at the time, Peter Paul McSwiney, said that he was “happy to learn that no life was lost during the great conflagration” unfortunately 13 people died as a result of the incident but not from the fire or its fumes.

The cause of their deaths was alcohol poisoning because many locals filled any container they could lay their hands on with the undiluted whiskey from these casks and then drank excessive amounts of it.  This whiskey was much stronger than the whiskey which would be sold across the counter and this is what resulted in the fatalities.

The interior of the Capstan Bar had to be rebuilt as a result of the damage caused by the fire. The current back bar dates from the 1880s and was built by workers from the now closed Powers Distillery at Johns Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin.

Fallon’s is a small, cosy pub with seating and tables for around 50 people and there is a ‘snug’ to the right of the entrance. For those not in the know, a snug is a small screened area where customers can have a pint with more privacy than in the main bar. These were introduced in the latter part of the Victorian era in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Although the snug in Fallon’s has an open entrance, many snugs in the past had doors which meant that the customers inside could have complete privacy. There is still a snug with a door on it in Toners Pub in Baggot Street, Dublin 2.

Snugs in Ireland were often referred to as ‘confession boxes’ and had small hatches through which the bartender could serve drinks and some even had doors which could be locked from the inside. Snugs were also places where clergymen could enjoy their pints without being seen and until at least the 1960’s, this was where women could drink as it was frowned on for women to drink alcohol in the public view. Another Dublin 8 pub which still has snugs is Ryan’s of Parkgate Street. The snug in Fallon’s has two tables and seats about 8 to 10 people comfortably.

The walls of Fallon’s are decorated with old photos, mirrors and other curios and surprisingly, there is a wedding photo on the ceiling just above the entrance. One story goes that the photo was placed there in the 1970’s. Apparently a regular drinker in the bar at that time had disappeared for some months and when he returned, he told John Fallon, the pubs owner, that he had gotten married and that was why he had been absent. He had brought the wedding photo to prove the truth of his story. However, after he had finished his usual session of drinking, he left the photo behind him. The photo was then placed on the ceiling to jokingly remind him of his marriage any time he fell flat on his back after one too many pints.

Fallon’s Customers and Atmosphere

Fallon’s caters to a very mixed crowd from local ‘regulars’ to students of the BIMM Institute just a short distance away in Francis Street. It is also very popular with tourists who are visiting local attractions such as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Teelings Distillery in Newmarket. A pint of Guinness will cost you 6 euro and 20 cent and a glass of Powers Whiskey 6 euro. A very tasty and filling toasted sandwich made with batch bread,  ham, cheese, tomato and onion will set you back 6 euro.

There is no music and the two televisions at either end of the bar are normally reserved for sporting events such as football and rugby matches and its quiet, intimate atmosphere is conducive to conversation. Its small size means it fills up quickly and it can be very busy in the evenings and at weekends, so get there early!

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design