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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 17 February, 2019
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'It's a local for people who don't live locally': The story of Dublin's Victorian gem The Long Hall

And how two babies led the current owners to take over.

In 2016, THE LONG Hall celebrated its 250th year in business. With its distinctive red and white front and classic Victorian interiors, the pub stands out in the George’s Street landscape and holds a special place in the hearts of Dubliners.

Since 1972, the pub has been in the Houlihan family.

“My father took over the running of the pub on May 1st 1972,” says proprietor Marcus Houlihan. “It’s the longest the ownership has been in one family in its 250-year history, which is something we’re very proud of.”

Houlihan recalls that his mother and father fell in love with the pub shortly after he was born. His mother had been in hospital for a week after having a “difficult birth” and his father, a publican, decided to bring her out on a jaunt.

“My father took her out of hospital one afternoon and into town,” says Houlihan. “They went up to The Long Hall.”

“Two years later in 1972, they were expecting my sister and back in town. He suggested to my mother that they go back to that lovely little pub on George’s Street. They discovered when they arrived that it was up for auction.”

Kickin’ May off right with the fam. 🍻☘️

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His father bid at the auction and was the underbidder. When the top bid fell through, the auctioneer informed him that it was his if he wanted it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lunchtime #dublin #ireland #thelonghallpub

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Der Wahnsinn 👍😋

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The pub is chiefly known for its interiors that have largely remained untouched since a refurbishment in the 1880s. It’s a source of pride for Houlihan.

“I know I’m biased but to me it’s the best example of an intact Victorian-era pub in the country,” says Houlihan. “You’d never change it. Certainly not on my watch anyway.”

It’s so unique. The craftsmanship that’s gone into it. The antiques that have been collected over the years by different owners. It’s a real… if the walls could talk, you know?

Among Houlihan’s favoured features are the famous arch, which separates the bar from the lounge. He also has a soft spot for a clock behind the bar.

“The other clock behind the bar was put in in 1881. It was specially commissioned by the owners.”

“They had completed the interior refurbishment that you see there today and the clock was put in especially to mark that. It’s just incredible given its age that it’s still ticking and records time so accurately.”

But the interiors aren’t the only thing that’s old school about The Long Hall.

“I have a very old school attitude to the running of it,” says Houlihan. “Our manager is with us forty years this October. We have career bartenders. All full-time with us.”

“I would have a passion for excellence. For good habits. We are what we repeatedly do. It’s all about keeping up standards of customer service. I tell everybody that works with us, ‘I want you to treat our customers like you would treat people in your own home.’”

#dessert #guinness #ireland #pub #dublin #beer #slainte #travel #whiskey

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Naturally enough, the pub is popular among tourists. Indeed, it’s welcomed many famous faces over the years and counts Bruce Springsteen as a regular.

But what surprises Houlihan are the Dubliners who venture out of their way to pop in for a pint.

“I’m often amazed at the Dublin people and the distances they travel to come into us,” says Houlihan. “They’ll tell me that they grew up in the area or their parents lived in the area and that they’ve moved out for jobs. But they’ll travel back into town to come in.”

It’s a local for so many people that don’t live locally, if you know what I mean.

Good to be home #family #friends #guiness #craicagusceol

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Another year, another round of drinks on empty stomach. #dublin #pub

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Over the past decade, Houlihan has witnessed the area undergo a period of regeneration – something he welcomes.

“It’s the locals’ Temple Bar,” he says of the area from George Street to Dawson Street. “I hear Irish customers say it to visitors. This is where Dublin people go to socialise.”

“Back eight or ten years ago in the recession, rents dropped and a few high profile chefs came into the area. It’s become a real cluster of really good quality restaurants and bars. It’s a hub for nightlife. I think it’s great.”

For Houlihan, he just wants to maintain The Long Hall for another generation of customers.

I don’t see myself as owning it. I see myself as a custodian. We have a job to keep it for future generations.

Bring on the 500th birthday celebrations.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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