Ah, the Parnell Mooney – for obvious reasons, I am sure to visit this pub each time I’m in Dublin. Truth be told, it’s a fine pub done in traditional style that serves one hell of a chicken curry. In a somewhat more radical fashion, the Parnell Mooney is also host to perhaps the most happenin’ punk rock scene in the Irish capitol. Old Charles Stewart, and whoever the hell “Mooney” is, would be proud of their namesake.
Formerly known simply as “The Parnell,” the Parnell Mooney is located on the south side of Parnell Street, just west of the Charles Stewart Parnell monument and Parnell Square. Here, a regally-columned, graystone facade lies at the base of a tasteful red brick building. Large windows with red wooden trim look out upon Parnell Street and keep the bar rather cheery inside. Brightly colored Guinness flags wave in the breeze, just above a wooden sign that advertises “traditional music nightly” in gold-lettering, which sponsored by Heineken. I ran across the pub on my first trip to Ireland in 2000 and, even though I hadn’t read it yet, I abided by Pete McCarthy’s adage in McCarthy’s Bar: “The Eighth Rule of Travel states: Never Pass a Bar That Has Your Name On It.” It simply would have been foolish not to.
Step through the arched doorway and you’ll find a spacious, nicely carpeted drinking space, anchored by a large, rectangular wooden bar with plenty of table seating around the periphery. It’s a rather comfortable atmosphere to enjoy traditional Irish specialities or to take in a game of football. A long stairway at the southwest end of the room leads to the second story where private parties are held within rose-painted and dark wooden-paneled confines. Here, one is able to keep abreast of things particularly when ABC hosts a party (notice picture #6).
If a bit of trad isn’t your thing, head downstairs into the depths of Parnell Mooney’s darkened, smoky basement for a more cutting edge scene that starts around 11:00 p.m. and runs well into the night. Every Wednesday, “Firehouse Skank” gives Dubliners all the reggae they can handle. On Thursdays, Jane Ruffino’s brainchild “Ground Zero” is hosted. Also known as “Club GZ,” Thursdays feature the best DJ-spun indie, punk, hardcore, and metal. Live bands of these genres are also featured monthly, as are theme nights. Either night will only set you back €5.
“For the love of God, Sean. The Parnell Mooney is only allowed keep its license because the Gardai (Police) like to keep all the criminals in the one place where we can keep an eye on them. Seriously, Monday to Friday all the robbers, theives, muggers and pickpockets converge there daily to discard the evidence because it takes a riot squad to arrest or search anyone in the place. At the weekend, you need a riot squad outside all day for the inevitable 30 prisoners that will kick the crap out of each other and anyone near them. It should say it all that all you need say over the radio is ‘Parnell’ and squad cars and beat officers will come running!”
– K.C. (January 29, 2008)
As for Parnell, Charles Stewart was known to many Irish as “The Patriot” and the “Uncrowned King of Ireland.” Originally from Avondale, County Wicklow, Parnell fought charismatically for Land League and Home Rule. At one point, he was jailed under the “Coersion Act” in the grim, gray Kilmainham Gaol (now a museum), in 1881 but was released the next year. Tragically, his downfall came when it was revealed that he had been living with Katherine O’Shea by her estranged husband, when Captain O’Shea filed for divorce. When Kitty refused to pay the Captain blackmail of £20,000 that she received as an inheritance from a deceased relative, the snubbed Captain made the affair public. As a result of Charles’ adultery, the public outcry was that he step down from leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Instead of laying low for awhile, Parnell resisted and lost support of the very people he was fighting for. His fight took a toll when he passed on prematurely in 1891, at the age of 45. Today, his grave can be found in Glasnevin Cemetery, just north of Dublin and bordering the National Botanic Gardens. In memoriam, the obelisk-shaped monument of Parnell stands at the top of O’Connell Street. “On its base are his words: ‘No man shalt say to a nation, ‘Thus far shalt thou advance and no further.” His hand is outstretched in the direction of Mooney’s pub, and irreverent Dubliners insist that this means they shalt not pass Mooney’s without stopping in for a drink, or two, or three,” according to Arturo and Maureen Brigid Gonzalez.
“He is dead. Our Uncrowned King is dead
O, Erin, mourn with grief and woe
For he lies dead whom the fell gang
Of modern hypocrites laid low”
– Excerpt from Dubliners by James Joyce
W.B. Yeats once observed that Dublin must be the only capital city in Europe to have statues of three adulterers in its principal thoroughfare: Parnell, O’Connell and Lord Nelson. While I find this notoriety somewhat disconcerting, I was horrified to learn that rather than being Irish, the surname “Parnell” can be traced back to Cheshire, England, then to the U.S., and then back to Ireland. Arggh!!! I was also disturbed by this whole “Mooney” business. Aside from another surname, I’m not really certain as to what it signifies. My experience with the term is photographing bare asses with someone else’s camera in a round of “moonies,” unbeknownst to the owner of the camera until the film is developed yielding a rather unpleasant surprise. However, there apparently was a character known as “Councilor Parnell Mooney” played by Frank Kelly on Hall’s Pictorial Weekly.
The Parnell Mooney is nothing fancy but a fine traditional, all the same – even though they changed the name from “The Parnell” to “Parnell Mooney.” And, as a living tribute to Charles Stewart Parnell (Mooney, get stuffed) and the punk rock scene, the Parnell Mooney is a must when in Dublin. While I am unsure if it still exists, check out the Parnell Mooney website for more information.
“The Parnell Mooney, the first pub my girlfriend and I stepped into while in Dublin 1996, is my favourite place in the world. the people were great and the barmen extremely attentive. Mark, Dermot (who gave us a Dublin soccer shirt), Colette (who quit just as we were leaving, and then worked there again, and then quit as I left again the next year!) and Damien the manager. Let’s just say there was many a song, many a joke and many a lock in when we were there visiting from Australia. We liked it because it wasn’t touristy in any way and we were accepted by all the locals, although we were seen as something as legendary as there were few Aussie girls there, and certainly not single ones to boot. Well, after a couple of snogs from obliging barmen, we had to leave the country but the place was often in our thoughts. It is a great place but we never ventured downstairs, even though several likely lads told us ‘there was a disco downstairs.’ Mind you I was down there in 1997 watching the Gaelic Football final. Can’t wait to get back there.”
– Jodie from Australia, November 15, 2003