An accomplished, well travelled writer and reviewer, Michele resides in Brisbane. Witty and highly articulate, her rivetting reviews show life through the eyes of a highly Gifted Adult viewing a world where she has an IQ in the top 1% of that world.
Gilhooleys, Chermside is the easiest Irish pub for me to get to and if it's day time or Thursday night, I can hurl in some shopping. I don't mean to sound like I'm there all the time. I'm not.
When you are Irish, it's difficult to comment on an Irish pub outside of Ireland because an Irish pub in Ireland isn't trying to be an Irish pub, it's just being a pub. It could be 600 years old and seen many 'slaintes' (toasts). Because they built Ireland to last, it may have original decor. Belfast's oldest, unbombed pub was built in 1630 I have a picture of my favourite cousin standing outside of it. He likes a drink.
Drinking in Belfast is different to drinking in the south. In the republic, you just relax and enjoy yourself. In Belfast sit away from the windows and facing the door. It gives you more warning if someone in a balaclava rushes in and opens fire. Lie flat on the floor. He'll be gone soon and the tavern will keep on serving as the paramedics treat the wounded and cover the dead with sheets.
Gilhooleys has some atmosphere but their choice of music can spoil it. Heavy Metal feels wrong. French restaurants play Francais music and they know all about ambience. Today, when I was in Gilhooleys, literally every second song was Irish, followed by one that was not. I nearly developed a split personality trying to adjust.
The pub has snugs that can be a bit dark if you like to read and don't look too close at the wood and you won't notice that it's veneer and not ancient oak that owls used to sit in. It's about three times the size of an actual Irish pub and they don't have stages or pool tables. The bright blue pool table gets me down.
When they have live music in Ireland, it's usually because guys have just turned up with their various Irish instruments and started playing. They've never had a music lesson, they were born with an ability. They're not even playing for an audience, they're playing for the soul of music. They enjoy bouncing off each other's notes, leaning over to say something funny and getting in the odd sip of Guinness, which is said to be good for pregnant women.
Gilhooleys makes good nachos and I drink Strongbow or Dirty Granny's. They have an outside area which you just don't have in Ireland, you'd be blown away and the fireplace is inside. While we grab some cultural atmosphere where we can, fake Irish pubs usually leave us feeling confused and we've had many a perplexing conversation about it
Gilhooleys just gets over the line, but in Brisbane, the pub that's done it best is O'Malleys off the mall. The 'craics' good.
'When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay'