Dublin Is Losing It’s Pubs To Hotels.
The first time I went to the Shaw, persuaded by my hipster, doc-marten wearing friends who gasped at the fact that I’d never drank or spent an evening there, we hoped aboard the fabulous, ‘big blue bus’ and ate delicious goats cheese pizza.
After 13 years since opening, the charming, hipster-haven pub, art installation venue, outdoor eatery, the Bernard Shaw and connected neighbour EatYard, is set to close and relocate.
Local residents had complained about noise levels from the outdoor smoking area and anti-social behaviour leading to difficulties renewing the lease. Often Dubliners who had been to the Bernard Shaw expressed a liberal opinion when it came to noisiness but local councillor Mannix Flynn expressed bitter distaste towards the venue in The Journal, ”A bunch of cool hipsters can think it’s an amazing place. But the level of anti-social behaviour that goes on is incredible, and the noise is appalling.”
Andrew Lane Theatre that housed the underground, base music club ‘Hangar’ and the Tivoli Theatre, which ran the popular, techno night ‘District 8’ were also shut down with new hotels erected. A chain hotel, which is completely opposite to what the Bernard Shaw represents, is being speculated to replace this local venue as the area is becoming an office and hotel playground.
Emma Conlon, who lives just around the corner actually, thinks the noise complaints are absolutely ludicrous. “I’ve left here many late nights and it’s definitely not a loud, noisy environment whatsoever when you’re leaving.”
The George Bernard Shaw is unique. Dubliners like this place due to it’s vintage, traditional, clouded pub in the front which transforms into a graffiti sprayed, chilled, art-space in the back. It became a reliable night-out where you’d always bump into familiar faces.
On a recent evening out to the Shaw ‘Fran’ was enjoying a well-deserved drink with a friend. The Bernard Shaw gave him a free pizza on his birthday last year as they regularly chose different names to receive complimentary pizza which they advertised on social media. Fran felt extremely sad about the pub closing as it was a rare place that served the tonic wine, Buckfast.
Ciara CH who goes to the Shaw regularly remarked how it feels like a family. “It’s almost like sitting in your sitting room,” she gleamed brightly looking at her friends who were enjoying a few after-work pints in the smoking area, “I just live down the road! It’s definitely going to be that there’s less fun places to go that I feel most chilled out to be in.”
All around Dublin on construction sights where new development is undergoing, posters of cranes (the bird, not the metal cranes) are being hung up with an anti-hotel message. While pacing in the smoking area of the Shaw, a dystopian art-piece depicting tourists along the river Liffey with high-rise hotels towering behind them, homeless people beneath them, posing with their leprechaun memorabilia can be noticed.
“To put a hotel here is counter-intuitive to what Dublin should be,” Finn O’Neill voiced to me beside the legendary double-decker bus. He and others are aware that it’s moving to a new location, but few of those I spoke to thought it would be the same.
We’re left to question, where do Dublin’s collective of energetic, creative artists, D.J.’s and people who don’t drink at Diceys or Weatherspoons go to unwind on the weekend?
Bodytonic, who manages the Bernard Shaw, released a statement on The Bernard Shaw’s official website:
“It’s with heavy hearts that we announce the end of our Bernard Shaw adventure.”
“We’ve tried really hard over the last few months to renew the lease, stay on longer, or buy the place. A lot of things didn’t go our way over the last 12 months either, but it’s out of our hands now unfortunately.”
They thanked various staff members, neighbours and artists who contributed to the Shaw over the years. The news though met with pity, has been looked at positively by The Shaws owners. They ended their statement with a bold underdog message:
“Dublin is changing, we can all see and feel it but we are going nowhere & we won’t go down without a fight. We’ll start something else, somewhere else [ plans are afoot ] , and keep fighting the good fight.”
The Bernard Shaw expressed to me that they were taking this time to focus on making their last few weeks full of happy memories instead of talking to press.
This locality was designed for broad-minded, unprejudiced people by broad-minded, unprejudiced people much like Alan Monaghan, who wasn’t impressed by Dublin’s unpopular development boom. “There’s so many corporate buildings. The likes of District 8, the Central Bank-where all the goths use to hang out…All of them little cultural spots have disappeared one by one so another spot gone down the drain…”
The Bernard Shaw will be relocating to The Porterhouse Whitworth, at Cross Guns Bridge in Glasnevin, Drumcondra with an official opening party on November 15th. The new venue is equipped with a beer garden, gallery and mural space, enough room for Eatyard and the Big Blue Bus. It’s even alongside the canal.
Slán to the Dublin we knew but at least the tourist industry is booming…
This feature was originally published in DUB8 magazine.