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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
story of my pub

'It's the best pub I've ever worked in': Why Walsh's in Stoneybatter is loved by staff and locals alike

And why wouldn’t they all be smitten, with free cheese on Tuesdays?

OVER THE LAST number of years, Stoneybatter has undergone a makeover of sorts. What was once a traditional working class area has been transformed into a buzzy destination neighbourhood with coffee shops and gastropubs aplenty.

Sure, didn’t The Guardian liken the neighbourhood to “something of a little Williamsburg by the Liffey” a couple of years ago?

Amidst all the renewal and gentrification, local pub Walsh’s has continued to flourish, under the current owner Anthony Malone. A veteran of the Dublin pub scene, he took over the pub’s lease with his business partner eleven years ago having always had a fondness for it.

“It was always one of my favourite pubs,” says Malone.

“I’d put Walsh’s in the same list as The Long Hall, The Palace, The Stag’s Head, Ryan’s – that old classic Victorian pub. A proper pub. The stained windows, the snug, all the old features. It’s a very cosy pub.”

Upon taking the place over, Walsh and his partner carried out a few essential renovations, but much of the rest of the pub stayed as before, with the front bar dating back to the late nineteenth century.

Outside of cosmetic refurbishments, the pub has instituted a few changes over the last few years. For one thing, they now host weekly performances from acclaimed musicians, many of whom live locally.

“On Monday, we do music with Ye Vagabonds. They have a huge following. They were five years here last Monday and we threw a party for them. Then we have Lisa O’Neill on Sunday nights. There are great musicians, great talents in the area.

Then there’s Cheesy Chewsdays, which started almost by accident a few years ago.

“That started when one of the locals asked if they could bring in cheese and crackers,” says Malone.

He acquiesced and Cheesy Chewsdays quickly became a weekly tradition, with local cheese aficionados flocking to the pub to enjoy giant platters of cheese every Tuesday, free of charge.

“Every year, it has grown legs,” says Malone.

Walsh’s also hosts a Christmas Charity Cheesy Chewsday once a year in which they raise money for local organisations.

This year, it takes take place on December 11, in aid of Capuchin Day Centre. Cheese boards will be supplied by Lilliput Stores while cheesy tunes will be supplied by Today FM’s Ed Smith.

When they’re not hosting cheesy get-togethers or gigs, the pub owners aren’t averse to the odd bit of sport, particularly rugby and GAA.

At this time of year, Walsh’s screens Heineken Cup matches as well as international rugby fixtures. At the height of the summer, meanwhile, it screens GAA matches. Perfect for the blow-ins and culchies living locally.

Earlier this year, Walsh’s was awarded the title of the Pub of the Year at the Irish Restaurant Awards. The pub won the title after enduring three spot checks by mystery shoppers, which assessed the pub on its drinks menu, service and atmosphere, among other things.

“It’s fairly extensive, in fairness,” says Malone. “You get a five page report on the whole thing.”

Malone says the win came as a “complete shock”. He viewed it as a win not only for Walsh’s but for the whole area. “It’s great to see people coming in and recognising Stoneybatter.”

Whether it’s collaborating with other businesses on the Stoneybatter Festival or coming together to sort Christmas lights, Malone says Stoneybatter now functions as a village: all for one and one for all. “Everyone gets together and everyone is involved together.”

It’s all part of why Malone loves Walsh’s so much:

I’ve worked in Donnybrook, I’ve worked in town and this is the best pub I’ve ever worked in. There’s never any trouble. It’s just easy going.

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