Established in 1861, Fitzgerald's of Sandycove is one of Dublin’s last traditional Victorian pubs. Located in the scenic village of Sandycove, Fitzgeralds offers a friendly welcome to locals and visitors alike. The current proprietors have owned the pub since 1960, and it has seen three generations work here to date.
The Martello Tower (now a James Joyce Museum), the setting of the start of James Joyces’ famed book Ulysses, is just around the corner, and the pub has a real literary feel to it. Many authors’ pictures adorn the walls along with many famous novels such as Homers Odyssey and Finnegans Wake as well as Ulyssess itself of course.
The main focus however is on the great James Joyce himself, with many references, pictures, books and newspaper cuttings throughout the lounge area. Every year we celebrate Bloomsday, in honour of the work of James Joyce on June 16th. The village has a festival atmosphere with great food & drink, live music & entertainment throughout.
Lunch is served in the pub daily from 12.30pm to 3.30pm offering a range of homemade soups & salads, grilled hot tortilla wraps, toasted gourmet bagels & freshly-made sandwiches along with a fine selection of teas, herbal teas and coffees in a relaxed and charming atmosphere.
Although restored in recent years, this house is one of the great Victorian pubs of Dublin. Quaint, relaxing and unpretentious, this pub captures the austerity of Victorian life better than any contemporary pub I know. And that is how it should be, for this house traces its origins to the Royal visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in August 1861.
As a tribute to that visitation the Borough of Kingstown renamed the road parallel to the premises which connects Dun Laoghaire and Killiney as Albert Road.
Thomas Boardman, wine and spirit merchant, commenced trading from this site in the same year and just in time for the Royal visit. We don’t know if Mr. Boardman served any of his famed libations to the Royal Consort but within a few months Albert was dead, and this house would enter Dublin publore as Albert House. And it has no association with the other Albert of latter day Irish political association, although a ballroom may yet be named in his honour. By 1875, Joseph Byrne was from his cellar underneath perfecting the long pull on his frothy pints to all the swimming enthusiasts who braved the salty depths of the nearby Forty Foot.
Later still, Edward Finn decided to add the Grocery trade feather to his cap and this became the leading Provisions store in Sandycove. Around the year 1887, he began serving a bearded and partially literary man, who came to live in 11 Sandycove Avenue West. This gentleman was an avid swimmer and thirsty customer who would later suffer the infamy of entering the pages of Irish History as the forger of the Parnell letters – his name was Richard Pigott.
But this house is best known for its Joycean connections, which developed in the two years in which James Joyce shared the nearby Martello Tower with Oliver St. John Gogarty. This house was Joyce’s local and proprietor Joseph Farrell often witnessed the eccentric behaviour of the brilliant Joyce. Indeed it appears that Mr. Farrell was not at all amused by Joyce’s frolics and on a few occasions severely reprimanded the literary genius, a factor which may have caused this house to be omitted from literary illumination in the pages of Ulysses.
However no such exclusion applies today as this house is among the most dedicated supporters of June 16, Bloomsday, when groups of Joycean scholars retrace the steps of Leopold Bloom. And if you happen to be in Sandycove next Bloomsday, be sure to drop in to Fitzgeralds, there you’ll get the genuine Bloomsday lunch – stuffed kidneys, roast heart and liver. This is great news for the offal eater and even better when you wash it down with wine or porter. In fact when you visit Fitzgeralds you will see that this house is a veritable museum dedicated to the Joycean theme. You will find several art pieces, works of sculpture including a replica of the bust from the Zurich Museum which was the mastercraft of Professor Brian king and, best of all, stained glass murals depicting each chapter of Ulysses. This of course causes a certain amount of confusion to those whose knowledge of the literary world is, let’s say, less than adequate. One such story survives concerning two well heeled damsels who, sitting at the bar, were rather curious as to the meaning of the Laestrygonians mural overhead. “What do you think these Laestrygonians are” asked the first. “Oh, I guess it must be the local rugby club”, replied the other.
Arthur Griffith was a regular visitor to this house in the days of the Anglo Irish Literary Revival as was Oliver St. John gogarty (buck Mulligan himself). Christy Brown continued this tradition in later years.
Today Fitzgeralds is a lively, active and upmarket sort of pub, ideal for that intimate family or business lunch. You will find Charles Fitzgerald still behind the counter, fresh as a daisy after serving over thirty years in this pub. His son Tom looks after the business end of things now, that is when he is not dressing up as James Joyce, for whom he is a spitting image. Next time you go to the Forty Foot or to celebrate Joyce, call into the premises where he was nearly barred...and, yes, Behan was refused.
(c) Eamonn Casey