THE LONG HALL is a Dublin institution, and loved by locals, tourists, and celebrities alike.
The little pub on George’s Street first began serving pints in 1766, just seven years after Arthur Guinness began brewing at St James’ Gate. This year, it celebrated 250 years of pulling pints and serving the city.
But what is it about this Victorian pub that has such a draw on people?
Owner Marcus Houlihan told DailyEdge.ie that the secret is in the hospitality.
I treat people like they’re in my home, it’s the same philosophy. We’re in the hospitality business, we’ll welcome you, we’ll get you a seat, we’ll hang up your coat if you want.
It’s rare to get such a perfect fusion of tourists and locals, but it’s all down to the conversational tone of the place. No one feels out of place.
I’ve seen people sit at the bar with a guide book, and someone will see them, they’ll end up closing it and getting their information from the person beside them.
Adding to the atmosphere, the illusive televisions are rarely turned on, avoiding the temptation to stare at a screen instead of each other. They’ll be on for the big occasions, but none of those Sky Sports second division football matches “ruining the atmosphere of the pub”.
Among the “all walks of life” Marcus says frequents the pub, there’s the odd celebrity punter.
Phil Lynott famously frequented, with the pub featuring in Thin Lizzy’s Old Town video.
Rihanna, Richie Sambora, Sean Penn, Bono, Bryan Adams, The Edge, and of course, Springsteen, have all sipped the wares.
But why here, instead of the other pubs the city has to offer?
We treat them like anyone else. They can feel normal.
Rihanna’s driver recommended she visit the Long Hall when she expressed interest in a post-dinner Guinness, and Richie Sambora exclaimed, “if it’s good enough for Bruce!”
Bruce has been coming here since he came to play Slane. He’s an absolute gentlemen, he comes in, there’s no entourage, no palaver, no phone call ahead.
He liked the fact he’s treated like anyone else, Irish people have a respect for that and don’t bother him.
It’s become somewhat of a local for Springsteen when he’s in the country, with fans anticipating his summer Croke Park gigs stopping off at the pub in the hope of a glimpse.
Of course, he called in. But his relationship with the pub goes way back.
He was working out in the George’s Street gym that’s now a FlyFit back in 1985, when one of the bar staff saw him and they got chatting. He came down for a couple of drinks and ever since then, he’s never been to Dublin on tour and not called in.
While Bruce’s drink is a Redbreast, another reason people flock there is the Guinness. You’d be hard pressed to find a guide to Dublin or best pints in the city list without the Long Hall included.
In fact, a pint of Guinness in this excellent people-watching spot is one of the finest pub seats in Dublin
So, what’s the secret formula?
There is none.
The same kegs are delivered into every pub. It’s down to the way the keg is handled, the stock is rotated, lines replaced more often than we should, and kept impeccably clean. The bar staff training is so important.
Of course the barmen are almost attractions to the pub themselves, with barman Val serving 38 years and going strong. Marcus says he can’t get into a taxi without being asked how Val is doing.
Finally, the decor is a big plus for trad-hungry tourists and is a familiar comfort for locals. The Victorian interior has been perfectly retained through the years.
The iconic arch is one of the hall’s most stunning features
It has the past owners initials carved into it, including Marcus’ dad’s. The pub has been owned by his family for almost 44 years. That iconic arch we’d never really throw a second glance at holds a whole lot of history.
As for Marcus’ reign? He says he’s not the owner, he’s just “passing through”.
I’m looking after it for future generations. This pub means so much to so many people. People have stories of first dates, marriages, proposals. Making changes would be criminal.
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