Music! Poetry! Dancing! Bovril! (and more!)
The Harbour Bar in Bray have five days and nights of excellent music and assorted events coming your way..and it’s all free! We’re bringing back the infamous Harbour Bar’s Banjo and Bovril Nights!
In the spit and sawdust days of The Harbour, when the short winter’s days were coming to a close and the wind was whipping against the door, Paul Snr would have a slab of cheese at the ready and crackers out while everyone grabbed steaming mugs of Bovril and prepared for the arrival of Jimmy The Banjo. (Mind, not a pint was served until the cheese was in the belly and Jimmy was ready to belt out tunes to the gathering.) The roaring fire would bring a glow to the cheeks and songs of faeries and their love of giants would get the crowd warmed up fast. We’re celebrating this old tradition coming back to life - so sit back and check out we have on offer for you.
Easing us into what is certain to be 5 days and nights of immense craic, we have the fabulous The Brand New Switcheroo on Wednesday, 28 January. Brothers Brian and Diarmuid Glynn, joined by Anthony Mannion, will be performing a mix of blues, bluegrass and folk music in The Bar. With guitars, fiddles and mandolins which swap hands throughout the act (and accounts for the ‘switcheroo’ part of their name), and the blend of their voices, you’ll be toe tapping and head nodding in front of our fire in no time (9:30-11:30).
On Thursday, 29 January we’ll be welcoming 5 piece ballad group Rake The Ashes to The Bar, who’ll be singing songs to their hearts’ content (and yours)!(9:30-11:30)We then have the brilliant Old Hannah hitting the stage in ourLive Lounge. Old Hannah are a 4 piece country-roots band hailing from Sligo. Featuring Anthony Mannion (dobro/guitar/vocals), Lucie Crichlow (mandolin/guitar/vocals), Luke Mercer (guitar/vocals), and Leo Morris (banjo/guitar/vocals), they mix traditional and contemporary influences and masterful three-part vocal harmonies They’ve played Other Voices, Body & Soul Festival, Hard Working Class Heroes and Sligo Live, to name a few. Come and check out why The Irish Times called them “a sublime band who straddle folk, country, roots, bluegrass, and more” (9pm)
On Friday, 30 January in The Bar we invite you to pull up a seat and check out the ever popular trad stylings of Crooked Jack & Friends (9:30-12:30). Bunoscionn will be paying a visit to our Live Lounge. Formed through friendships, sessions and copious cups of tea, they describe themselves as ‘a musical love-child mothered by Irish folk music and fathered by dance, reggae and rock’. This 5 piece band have been entertaining folks for several years, playing tonnes of festivals and stages in Ireland and Europe. With their main arsenal of banjo, whistles, flutes, bodhrán, mandolin, guitars, djembe, drums, bass and blended vocals, the Bunoscionn sound emits an overall warm rootsy feel with enough kick, we guarantee this is going to be a night you won’t want to miss! (10:30pm)
On Saturday, 31 January we’re starting off with Banjo, Rhythm and Rhymein the Live Lounge (3 - 4pm), expect banjo tunes and chats.We’ll then have the Circle Sessions, a celebration of Irish poetry, Upstairs (4:30 - 5:30pm). Trad group Seoidín will be in The Bar (9:30-12:30) - what better way to while away an afternoon? On Saturday night we’re bringing you Trad vs Hip-Hop in the shape of the hypnotic Jiggy in the Live Lounge. Daire Bracken (fiddle), Garry O’Meara (banjo), Éamonn Galldubh (pipes), Robbie Harris (percussion) and DJayzus and his decks mix traditional Irish dance tunes and sweet hip hop beats. The result? Serious toe-tappability. (10:30pm)
Pinch and a punch, it’s the first of the month! Never ones for resting on the sabbath, we’ve got lots in store for you on Sunday, 1 February. Banjo, Rhythm and Rhyme are back in the Live Lounge (3 - 4pm). We’ve got aTrad Session in The Bar to get your feet stomping while you sup a pint (3-5pm). From the early evening we’ll have an hour of The Magic of Irish Danceto stir your soul (5-6pm). Last, but most certainly not least, we have the spectacular-no-holds-barred Kila hitting our Live Lounge (9pm). Hailed as one of Ireland’s most exciting bands, Kila’s music has roots in traditional Irish music, with strong percussive like singing, gorgeous melodies and a serious rhythmical undercurrent. They are widely renowned for their awesome live performances and have been thrilling folks around the world for years.
So, folks, there you have it. Our Banjo & Bovril Nights are back with a bang! Five nights of great music and atmosphere - and all free. Grab a creamy pint, a steamy mug of Bovril or enjoy a craft beer (the lip smackingly good Wicklow Wolf is brewed right here in Bray!). Pull up a comfy chair in front of the fire, hide away in our lovely Snug, relax in our Conservatory or hit our heated Beer Garden and take in some sea air.
Posted by The Harbour Bar on January 15 2015
Christmas at The Harbour Bar
Christmas and the Harbour Bar go together like mince pies and mulled wine. Paul O’Toole Snr remembers Christmases fondly, and has many a tale to tell about the festive goings-on in the pub over the years.
One such story is of the annual Turkey Shanghai darts competition at Christmastime. Every December, Paul would buy five turkeys and bring them down to the Harbour, where they’d be hung up in the bar. The locals would welcome the new arrivals, sticking cigarettes into their beaks and having chats with the lifeless birds in the wee hours when there was no one else to listen.
On Christmas Eve, the darts competition was held, with a turkey going to each of the winners. This was all going well, until some ringers caught wind of the competition and came to the Harbour, to beat all the regulars at darts and sell the prize turkeys on to the highest bidders elsewhere.
Unhappy with this arrangement, Paul and the other bar staff hatched a plan - they took the turkeys out to the back and beat them up, toughening up the meat to ensure that the sneaky chancers would have a lot of trouble trying to sell on the bruised turkeys!
Alas, the Turkey Shanghai competition has gone the way of the dodo, and we’re not sure the Food Safety Authority would approve of a load of raw turkeys hanging from the ceiling these days, but there’s still plenty of Christmas cheer to be had in The Harbour Bar.
Come down for a hot whiskey or a pint of whatever-you’re-having, sit yourself down by one of our fires, and enjoy the festive atmosphere!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on December 02 2014
The Harbour Barber Movember Fundraiser
The Harbour Bar has been Bray’s official Mo Hub since 1st November - if you’ve passed through, you may have noticed some of our barmen sporting a few stray whiskers on their upper lips. After three weeks of hard work, their ronnies are beginning to look respectable, so we invited the fine folk from Sam’s Barbers out to tidy up their ‘taches with a hot towel shave.
Three Mo Bro men in uniform called in for a quick shave too and told us that, strictly speaking, any facial hair apart from a neat above lip moustache is prohibited in the Garda Handbook, but that a blind eye was being turned to their full handlebars for the month that’s in it.
The shaving highlight of the evening had to be Pearse, whose beard had reached the venerable age of 43 years without a shave. He had collected money to donate to Movember, and was more than happy to endure a cold chin for this worthy cause. Good man, Pearse!
If you'd like to show support for Pearse's noble sacrifice, you can drop any amount of money into the Harbour Bar in an envelope labelled 'Pearse's Beard Fund' - all proceeds received with thanks and donated to charity!
Dylan Walshe was on hand to bang out a few tunes, as were the delightful gents of the Sea Sharps barbershop chorus, whose a cappella renditions of both old and new songs were a great hit with the crowd.
All of the men who participated in the event were suitably impressed with their silky-smooth faces after their shaves, and were sent home with some fine grooming products courtesy of Brendan the Barber.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped out with the event and dropped a few coins and notes into our donation boxes. Everything raised will be added to our ongoing fund in aid of Movember. If you didn’t make it down, it’s not too late to donate - just visit http://ie.movember.com/team/1542709 to pledge a few quid!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on November 20 2014
Keep Bray Hairy - The Harbour Bar, Supporting Locally Grown Moustaches this Movember
Over the years, hundreds of different types of facial hair have passed through the doors of The Harbour Bar. From the days when Paul O’Toole Snr served men who enjoyed the white foam from pints of Guinness on their well-groomed moustaches, to nowadays where thick beards have regained popularity and have become a sign of distinction and creativity among men of all ages.
This year in particular, we’ve seen an impressive increase in the amount of men who sport finely groomed facial hair. We’ve come to understand the time and effort that goes into grooming and caring for any type of facial hair. We want to encourage this great hair revolution by bringing in one of Ireland’s most talented barbers to provide grooming advice and free shaves to all our hairy customers. It’s a chance to make the most of your facial hair from some of Ireland’s best.
On Wednesday the 19th of November, we’re inviting anybody who’s interested in facial hair to come down and feel the satisfaction of a trim or a hot towel shave from the experienced craftsmen of Sam’s Barbers. The event will be in aid of the Movember Foundation, who encourage the growth of facial hair every November to raise money for Irish prostate cancer research and treatment programmes.
Throughout the Month, we’ll be showing our support for Movember with our homemade “have-your-own-moustache” frame at the entrance to the beer garden. Feel free to see what you’d look like with a moustache and drop a donation into our moustache-shaped donation box. All of the funds raised will go the The Harbour Bar Movember team at http://moteam.co/the-harber-barbers. The money raised by the team goes to The Movember Foundation who work to improve the care of the 1 in 8 men who get diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Ireland. Movember is partnered with The Irish Cancer Society and all money raised in Ireland goes directly towards Irish prostate cancer research programmes.
This is an important cause for the wellbeing of men and families all over the country and a chance for our staff and customers, men and women alike, to get involved and have a positive impact on the health and lives of men all over Ireland. So grow that Mo, join our Mo Team (http://moteam.co/the-harber-barbers) and help us keep Bray hairy this Movember.
The Movember Foundation – Changing the Face of Men’s Health
Posted by The Harbour Bar on November 01 2014
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
We noticed some strange things going at The Harbour Bar so we set up some cameras to see what happens when no one is around...
Posted by The Harbour Bar on October 27 2014
Tales of The Harbour Bar: The one about the fire…
If you’ve visited upstairs in The Harbour Bar, you’ve probably noticed many of the little knick-knacks and curios that hint at the pub’s rich history throughout the years. However, only the eagle-eyed will have noticed some scorch marks on the rafters, just above the green pantry by the door to the ladies’ toilets. We asked Paul O’Toole Sr. to tell us the tale...
It was lunchtime on August Bank Holiday Sunday back in 1955 - one of the busiest days of the year for The Harbour Bar - when a fire was started upstairs, in what was then the living quarters.
Paul O’Toole's younger brother, Gabriel, was crouched on the floor with a box of matches. He was striking them to try and shed light under the bed, when suddenly the bedclothes caught alight. The flames spread quickly, engulfing the bedroom as the young Master O’Toole ran for help.
In 1955, Bray had no full-time firemen and was staffed by volunteers who would run to the station from their homes (or the pubs they were in) when they heard the siren ringing in the Town Hall on the Main Street. The brigade arrived on the scene, climbed onto the roof, knocked a hole and fed the hose through.
Luckily for the family, the customers - and, indeed, for us - disaster was averted! The fire was controlled and no one was hurt, locals helped to move any perishables from the bar downstairs, and neighbours took in the O’Toole children for a few weeks while the damage was repaired. The bar was even open again the following day in time for the Bank Holiday Monday revellers. The roof was repaired, and the place was back to normal after a few weeks.
And what became of young Gabriel O’Toole, you ask? His brother Paul tells us that their father was so angry, he said the boy would not be able to attend Presentation College, as hoped, and was shipped off to the French Foreign Legion instead. The next time they heard from him, he was battling the Taliban on the Khyber Pass..!
Gabriel has since retired from the military. He lives in Co. Donegal and is a successful painter.
Posted by The Harbour Bar on September 29 2014
Happy Birthday To Us!
Last Friday evening, we threw a little bash to say a big thank you to all of our fantastic, loyal customers who've been so good to us over the past 12 months!
We hung the bunting, distributed the obligatory party bags, donned some classy party hats and then sat back and enjoyed some pretty epic sets in the Live Lounge courtesy of The Eskies, Blind Yackety, Wyvern Lingo, The Viking Project, Mongoose, Conor Linnie, Coddle, Fever and Toasted Special.
You've been incredibly supportive of us and the massively talented bands and singers we've been lucky enough to host in the Live Lounge and Main Bar. You create the warm atmosphere, the unique buzz and the mighty craic. You truly make The Harbour Bar the best little bar in the word - yis are a bunch of legends!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on September 08 2014
New Term at The Harbour Bar
Right gang, enough of your tomfoolery, it's time to knuckle down.
Please find the attached timetable for the coming month and study it carefully.
Now is the perfect time to get involved in one of the many extra curricular activities taking place in The Harbour Bar.
Monday: Seaweed Sessions under the moose - an eclectic acoustic jamboree
Tuesday: The Circle Sessions in the conservatory - storytelling, poetry, music
Tom's Beer Club upstairs - tasting and talking about beer. Every second Tuesday (see facebook.com/tomsbeerclub)
Wednesday: Brand New Switcharoo in the Main Bar- Trad / Bluegrass
Cult Film Club upstairs - cult film screenings every second Wednesday and one Sunday a month (see facebook.com/braycultfilmclub)
Thursday: Rake the Ashes in the Main Bar - Trad
Friday: Crooked Jack & Friends in the Main Bar - Trad
Saturday: Seoidín in the Main Bar - Trad
Posted by The Harbour Bar on September 01 2014
Craft Beer and Wine Experience
Bray's first Craft Beer and Wine Experience at the Wicklow Food and Garden Festival last weekend was a roaring success! Our beer geek, Tom Moore, gives us a quick recap of the samples on offer...
"Well now that we've all recovered from the long weekend and facing into the next one, it's time we talked about the Bray Craft Beer and Wine Experience that took place as part of the Wicklow Food and Garden Festival. It was a great weekend with some really excellent beer, cider and wine available to sample. Joining us for the weekend was Mark from the Slane Cider Mill, whose Cockagee Keeved Cider was one of the big hits of the weekend. Rascal's Brewing Company were also very popular, especially their Ginger Porter (a favourite of mine) and their Wit Woo Belgian witbier. The Porterhouse were showcasing their new Dublin Pale Ale, and it's a fantastic beer, bitter and fruity and well balanced. Their Porterhouse Red was also very popular.
The Martello were pouring one of the standout beers of the weekend, a blonde weissbier from White Gypsy in Tipperary, which became known as 'the banana beer' due to the clean banana notes coming from the German yeast. My favourite beer of the weekend however, and one of the most popular overall, was pouring at the Harbour Bar stand - Camden's Unfiltered USA Hells Lager. It was an extremely refreshing lager, with lots of hops which gave off hints of lemon and lemongrass, with a nice clean bitter finish.
One of the main aims of the weekend was to showcase some of the great beer available in Bray, and I think it's safe to say we managed that. It was so encouraging to see Irish craft beer stand toe to toe with international offerings; the Brú IPA from County Meath stood up to fierce competition from Brewdog's ubiquitous Punk IPA, and in the opinion of many, came out victorious. White Gypsy from Tipperary saw off all competition with their wheat beer and Rascal's Brewing had a range of innovative and extremely tasty beers. Things are definitely looking up for Irish Craft beer - we'll drink to that! Cheers!"
Tom's Beer Club takes place in The Harbour Bar every second Tuesday at 8pm - all welcome! Check out facebook.com/tomsbeerclub for more info.
Posted by The Harbour Bar on August 09 2014
The Circle Sessions
The Circle Sessions, held in the cosy surrounds of the Conservatory every Tuesday evening from 7.30pm, is one of our most popular regular events. Brian Kingston, the man behind the operation, tells us what it's all about...
"The Circle Sessions is a unique night of spoken word poetry, music, storytelling and performance. We invite both seasoned performers and complete newcomers to come and contribute to the circle with whatever medium they choose. This allows for the formation of an encouraging, open and collaborative environment where spontaneity and creativity flourish.
We bridge the gap between audience and performer, to allow anyone who wants to express themselves to do so. Each person performs one piece at a time, whether that be in the form of song, story, poetry, a monologue, or any performance piece. In our three hour sessions, each performer usually gets a chance to perform 3 or four peices, lasting approx 2-4 mins in length each.
The format is fluid and self-expressions is encouraged, come and contribute to our rapidly growing circle and experience our warm and inspiring atmosphere."
The Circle Sessions is a free event, held every Tuesday from 7.30pm in The Conservatory - all welcome!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on July 23 2014
The Harbour Bar Stage at Groove Festival
Harbour Bar regulars, Interskalactic kicked off the weekend on The Harbour Bar stage with their infectious Jamaican ska sounds, as crowds started arriving. Conor Linnie, Wyvern Lingo and Samuel Vas-y kept a chilled out vibe going all afternoon for festival-goers enjoying 99s and lounging on blankets on the grass! The rain kept off for the afternoon but we had a brief deluge as The Cujo Family hit the stage - it didn't damped spirits though, the crowd scurried in under the tent, making for a very intimate gig!
On Sunday, 90s dance cover band, Attention Bébé got the party started for us with their own twist on some teen disco flashback favourites, like Will Smith's Getting Jiggy With It and Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise. Sligo folk and roots band, Old Hannah, gave us a nice chilled out set as the clouds cleared, followed by another folk-jazz quartet, Mongoose. Oddsocks, who've drawn big crowds at the Harbour any time they've played, didn't disappoint - the party was well and truly underway by the time Jamie Duff played a quick surprise set ahead of our headlining act for the day - The Eskies. The lads were joined by two of Attention Bébé's brass section and put on a great off-the-cuff comedy show in between numbers - if you've never seen these guys live, make it one of your missions in life!
Overall, Groove Festival was a really great weekend, the weather behaved itself for the most part, there was a happy, chilled out, family-friendly atmosphere, good food and, most importantly, clean portaloos without long queues!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on July 09 2014
Groove Festival Promo with The Eskies
We're delighted to anounce that The Harbour Bar will have an official stage at Groove Festival in Killruddery House and Gardens, right here in Bray on 6th and 7th July!
Posted by The Harbour Bar on June 21 2014
The Bray Cult Film Club
The Bray Cult Film Club will be kicking off with The Big Lebowski in The Harbour Bar at 8pm on the 11th of June. Come down and worship His Dudeness, Duder, El Duderino with a white Russian and your bathrobe.
Both The Harbour Bar and Bray (home of Ardmore Studios) have a strong connection with film so we’re taking a quick look at two Irish films that were filmed, or partly filmed, in Bray.
The Miracle, 1991. Dir: Neil Jordan
This little-known film takes place almost entirely in Bray. Two teenagers, Jimmy and Rose, spend their summer wiling away the days by making up exciting imaginary lives for the townspeople around them. When a glamorous blonde steps off the DART, played by Beverly D’Angelo, life becomes more exciting. He quickly develops a crush on her but a family secret changes everything. Jordan filmed many scenes along Bray promenade and in Martello Terrace where he lived at the time. It features the acclaimed stage and film actor, Donal McCann, in the role of Jimmy’s father. Some Bray folk might recall the filming which included a circus on the promenade. Paul O’Toole Snr remembers the circus animals loose on the prom during the shoot. Unfortunately we can’t find any photos of this!
Check out this clip to see some familiar sights:
Breakfast on Pluto, 2005. Dir: Neil Jordan
Another Neil Jordan film, Breakfast on Pluto, features a scene filmed in The Harbour Bar with Paul O’Toole Snr as the barman! Though he only had one line in a scene with Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson, he said it took plenty of takes to get the perfect one.
The film is an adaptation of the Pat McCabe novel about a young transgender woman and her coming of age story. It follows Patrick “Kitten” Brady, played by Cillian Murphy, as she grows up in Northern Ireland and moves to London in the 1970s in search of her mother.
The Bray Cult Film Club will be screening great films in The Harbour Bar regularly so keep an eye on the Facebook page for details.
Posted by Harbour Bar on May 26 2014
Did you ever hear of the bona fide loophole?
Before 1960 the licensing laws in Ireland were much more restrictive and pubs were unable to serve alcohol on Sundays unless you were a bona fide traveller who lived a minimum of 3 miles from the pub. This was a quirk in the law left over from the days of coach travel (the horse and carriage type rather than the Finnegan’s type) and was meant to serve people when travelling was a bigger ordeal.
Perhaps the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927 will explain it better:
"For the purposes of this section a person shall not be a bona fide traveller unless either the place where he lodged during the previous night is situate in a county borough and is at least five miles (measured by the shortest public thoroughfare) distant from the place where he demands to be supplied with intoxicating liquor, or the place where he lodged during the previous night is situate elsewhere than in a county borough and is at least three miles (similarly measured) distant from the place where he demands to be supplied with intoxicating liquor."
Perhaps not. This law was increasingly regarded as ridiculous by many and people began to find ways around it. Paul O’Toole Senior remembers in his youth when the “3 mile” radius rule was subverted when locals from Shankill would come to Bray to have a drink on a Sunday and vice versa. Though not everyone would make the trip to Shankill and many pubs, The Harbour Bar being one of them, would sometimes bend the rules.
O’Toole recalls having a doorman on hand to determine the bona fides of the traveller and if a local turned up he might be given a wink which signalled he was to go around the back into the store room which is now the cosy Backroom/Parlour. So you would have the Shankill folk in the front of the pub and the Bray locals in the back! If the Gardaí were to arrive the illicit drinkers would be hooshed upstairs while James O’Toole would hide the evidence of the Sunday speakeasy. If caught, there would be a fine to pay.
This rather ridiculous law became unenforceable for the Gardaí and it was abolished in 1960 and opening hours were extended on Sundays, though still with a two hour closure in the afternoon.
So the next time you’re enjoying a pint on a Sunday be glad you’re not forced to walk three miles down the road or sipping your pint out the back, whispering beside a row of kegs!
Posted by Harbour Bar on May 26 2014
Take a look at our June newsletter next time you stop into the bar. To celebrate the beginning of summer our newsletter this month features a map of Bray with a list of things to do while in Bray for the day.
Posted by Harbour Bar on May 26 2014
Zaska at the Harbour Bar
Max Zaska is a fantastically talented musician who is already well on his way to superstardom. He stopped by the Harbour bar recently to record this lovely little tune with band members Karen Cowley and Keith Fennell.
Posted by Harbour Bar on May 26 2014