Something old, something new

Melanie O’Reilly pits Whelan’s against sister venue The Village and decides that, well, neither of them are that great

Melanie O’Reilly pits Whelan’s against sister venue The Village and decides that, well, neither of them are that great

The posters in Welans

Yes, we have taken the route of originality and decided to have a face-off between Whelan’s of Wexford Street and the Village of… Wexford Street. The ingenious part of this plan is that these establishments are next-door neighbours, so you can check them both out yourself in one visit. The thing about Whelan’s is that everyone has heard of its live music reputation and, by most standards. it is Dublin’s best-known pub. The legendary status of some of its live gigs down through the years sets Whelan’s apart from its competitors. Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, Christy Moore, and Mike Mills, to name but a few, have graced the venue. In more recent times, you might have seen Damien Rice, The Magic Numbers, Ray Lamontagne, Regina Spektor, British Sea Power, and the Arctic Monkeys.

However, Whelan’s has seemingly lost some of its charm of late and has become more of a run-of-the-mill music venue/pub. To paraphrase the editor of this fine publication, “Whelan’s just isn’t as cool as it used to be, like” (Ed. – I think you’ll find that was “I remember when Whelan’s was cool,” Melanie). It’s still a good place to go, hang out with friends, and listen to good music but it just doesn’t have the kick it used to.

The décor is that of a traditional pub. The seats and bar areas are not the main attraction, though. The stage is undoubtedly the focal point of Whelan’s. If you want to be cosmopolitan and enjoy swanky furnishings, go to the Mint Bar – Whelan’s is a place built on character.

One thing that I am grateful for is that, during colder weather, the fire in the front is lit, and the table there is the perfect spot to spend the evening.

There is no particular dress code, but if you want my advice, go casual, get a table early in the evening, and chat with friends about everything and nothing. It is still a hugely popular venue, especially on weekends, with tourists, visiting actors and artists as well as the mid-20’s regular crowd usually in attendance.

Upstairs at Whelan’s is a slighter younger mix, and Whelan’s is still a must-do before graduation. However, it is up to you whether you want to repeat the experience or not:it’s certainly not on my own regular haunts list (and, yes, I do have a list.)

The Village, next door to Whelan’s (can you sense the sibling rivalry?) is a swankier, take on Whelan’s – perhaps in the hope of catching the music lovers who enjoy more refined furnishings and even cocktails.

The Village is an uptown type of venue, full of nooks and crannies for hanging out. The acoustics from the stage are quite good and it is possible to view shows from two levels, which adds to the intimate atmosphere.

There are two bars; one by the stage, and then another to the front of the venue, which is visible from the outside. The front bar is the more modern of the two, downstairs is more for the music.

One of the Village’s finest features is the ladies facilities – they are amazing. I wish I could take them with me and place them in my favourite pubs and clubs. So boudoir-like a ladies room in any club goes above and beyond the call of duty.

I have spent many a half-hour talking on the circular sofa, trying to turn my beetroot cheeks back to a more natural hue in front of the mirror, and double-checking in the full length mirrors that I have not managed to get my skirt stuck in my tights again (I am just that cool.) Sadly, I was unable to venture into the men’s room to see if it was up to scratch – I did try though.

To be perfectly honest, neither venue is worthy of a spot on my regular haunt list and the fact that you often have to pay in on the weekends is a pain. That said, they’re both worth checking out if only for the sake of experiment. Give them a go.