Publin comes to town, paving the way for cheap drinks in Dublin’s Fair City. We interview founder John Geraghty about how he came up with the site and his favourite pubs.
One thing I have always begrudged Dublin is how expensive pints can be here. If €4.50 is roughly average for a pint in Dublin, you’ll find that’s the top end (£3.75) for most typical pubs in London. London!
Enter Publin. More than just a catchy name, this genius website is attempting to catalogue all the pubs in Dublin by price scale and features, as well as offering reviews and photos, a series of brilliantly-crafted, do-it-yourself pub crawls and recession-friendly specials offered by the pubs themselves.
If you follow Publin’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, you’ll get the heads up on these specials as they come in, making it quite easy to plan a night out on the cheap.
Here at IrishJaunt, we have been loving Publin since it appeared late last year. So, we decided to chat with the mastermind behind it all, John Geraghty, about Publin, being a pub crawl guide and the perfect pint of Guinness.
For starters, can you tell us a little bit about the people behind Publin?
Well, at present, Publin is just one person. My name is John Geraghty, I’m 26 and….I love pubs! I was a pub crawl tour guide for two years and I also visit them in a personal capacity from time to time. I came up with the idea for Publin around a year and a half ago and finally launched it last December. It’s an opportunity for me personally to work on something I really love and I also get a lot of satisfaction from helping people have a good night out while getting value for money.
Publin mastermind John Geraghty
What gave you the idea to start Publin?
I can’t recall an exact time that I came up with the idea or why, it just came to me over a period of time. It’s a fairly obvious idea for a website, especially in Dublin, and I guess I’m the only one that has put the time into keeping an updated price list for the whole city. When I was working as a tour guide I was always conscious of how expensive a city Dublin was for tourists coming here and I’m quite a frugal person myself. So, I decided to put something together to show people the options open to them in terms of price without sacrificing the quality of their holiday.
Using Publin, you could easily end up saving €15 on your night out. That’s the price of a nice meal. It was something that I knew I myself would use, so naturally I had a bit of passion for what I was doing and I knew there would be a market for it, which there is.
How many pubs do you currently have listed on the site?
We have around 210 pubs listed, 165 of those having a full price list, and we also have a list of more than 500 drinks specials covering all of those pubs.
Are you expecting lots more?
We are indeed! There’s plenty more in the city centre to list, but we’re also starting to creep out into more suburban areas close to the city. A lot of people don’t go into town when they have a good pub or bar so close to home, so we’re going to start trying to list those, too. I just have to be confident that we can keep track of our existing pubs before moving on to others. Once we have a strict rota in place, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we can at least double the amount of pubs we have listed.
There is space for people to “join” Publin. What does membership involve?
At the moment, membership allows you to rate and comment upon pubs, as well as mark them as a favourite for quick reference. In the future we’re going to make membership a bit more interactive, so you can create your own pub crawls and interact with other members on a forum and messaging system.
You’ve got a great selection of pub crawls on the site. Who puts these together and how?
I’m never one to sit still on a night out. I love changing venues and getting a taste for what is going on around the city. I don’t like to confine myself to one place unless I have to. With that in mind, I started creating geographically based and themed pub crawls. The geographically based ones are quite easy to do – they’re usually a long stretch of road like ‘the Baggot mile’, or a loop around Trinity College I call ‘the Trinity Ring’.
The themed ones are far more fun to come up with, as they require a bit of research. A few examples are the Harry Potter crawl, film crawl, James Joyce crawl, and the cheap craft beer crawl. The film pub crawl lists pubs where scenes from famous movies were filmed. These being Educating Rita, Michael Collins, The Commitments, A Fistful of Dollars, and many more. If there’s a hot topic in the news, I try to make a crawl based on that. The list keeps growing and it’s a lot of fun to play around with.
Mulligans of Poolbeg Street: the best pint of Guinness? Photo: William Murphy
Isn’t it a great perk to have to go out drinking for your job?
Too right it is! Any time I’m out for drinks with friends, I have a chance to do ‘research’. I can take down the prices, take a few photos or tweet something live from the venue. If you’re so willing to work after hours, it’s not really a job! I like to get a good spread of pubs too, so I never go to the same place too much. The down side is that everyone expects me to choose the next venue. I’m not that decisive!
I noticed you have iPhone and Android apps in the works. What can we expect from these?
I’m really looking forward to having the apps out and working. Not just for users, but for myself too! The apps will have a list of bars with individual pages for each showing their prices, a full drinks list consisting of over 160 pubs, a deal list, a Twitter feed (very important, because here we list deals that are for one night only), and a comprehensive map that will tell you where your nearest pubs are. I should say that these, at first, will only be beta apps and that more comprehensive and pretty ones will be on the way in a few months’ time. As we’re still a small website and we don’t have huge resources, we’re doing this alone, and so the product will be functional but can only get better. I’m learning Android and iOS app development, so we’ll have it mastered in no time.
What should we look out for on the Publin website in the coming months?
We’ll have new sections, new pubs, and increased details of pubs. We’ll be able to tell you where has wifi, pool tables, dart boards, function rooms, fire places, craft beers, gluten-free beers, beer gardens and much more. We already have lists for pool tables, beer gardens and others, but we’ll be making them far more comprehensive. Our list of deals stands at over 500 at the moment, but I’ll be expecting that to grow in a big way before the summer hits. In short- expand, expand, expand!
You list a lot of pubs offering drinks specials, both on Publin.ie and on your social media channels. Isn’t there a law against happy hours in Ireland? How do these work?
So far as I’m aware ,you’re right in saying that happy hours aren’t allowed, but most specials offered by pubs are over the course of the night and only on specific drinks. There’s no free-for-alls where prices are slashed 70% for only 60 minutes. It’s a lot more reserved that than. Most deals would be 2-for-1 cocktails on Thursday nights, a mixer and a spirit for €5 or selected pints for €3.50. Nobody goes mad with their deals and they’re mostly quite responsible. In many countries paying €3.50 for a pint would be considered expensive, so I don’t think we’re going off the rails here!
It’s the pubs’ responsibility to set prices that they think will get customers through the door, and we’re just providing that information. There’s nothing that we list that could be considered outrageous and, even though most of what we do is to show value, we would think twice about listing anything that we considered dangerous or irresponsible.
O'Donoghue's of Suffolk Street: a Publin favourite. Photo: Chris Friese
Do you have any personal favourite pubs?
Most pubs that I have a fondness for are because I’ve got good memories associated with them, but here’s a few that I’m very fond of. The Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dice Bar Smithfield, O’Donoghue’s on Suffolk Street, Black Sheep on Capel Street, Mulligans of Poolbeg Street, the George Bernard Shaw on Wexford Street and Bowes Lounge.
Which pubs would you recommend for visitors wanting to get a really authentic Dublin pub-going experience?
I think these would be a good starting point and you would be most likely to meet Irish people and tourists alike here: Cobblestone Smithfield, Kehoe’s off Grafton Street, O’Donoghue’s on Baggot Street, The Long Hall on George’s Street, Against the Grain on Wexford Street (to taste some real Irish craft beers) and O’Neill’s on Suffolk Street. I think that’s a good start, and if you’re still standing after those, come back to me and I’ll give you some more.
Do you think there really is such a thing as the best pint of Guinness in the city and, if so, where is it?
I’ve heard all sorts of rumours about Guinness giving the best kegs to a certain few pubs around the city, and I’d well believe those rumours. Conventional wisdom suggests the best pints can be found in the Long Hall on George’s Street, Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street, Toner’s on Baggot Street (they have a sign outside saying that a member of the Dubliners band proclaimed it the best pint of Guinness in Dublin).
We’ve started a Guinness rating system on the site, so hopefully we’ll be able to put the argument to rest once and for all. I maintain that the best Guinness I’ve ever had was at the bottom of a mountain in Letterfrack, Co. Galway. So smooth and just generally perfect. I don’t know much about the brewing process, but after drinking it for a few years you tend to know after the first sip whether it’s a good one or not. You’ll just have to judge for yourself!
Thanks again, John! We’ll be onto you for a pub crawl tour soon enough!