The Wrens Nest during the 1970s

JULY 2015: A favoured pub during the 1970s was “The Wren’s Nest” at the Strawberry Beds along a winding road between Chapelizod and Lucan, on the River Liffey’s Northern bank as it made its way from its bend at Leixlip and Lucan into the city. The pub – “The Wrens” as we called it - which is still there, was in a beautiful location: a lush green valley, with occasional cottages dotted here and there, and the Liffey like you’d never see it in the city, meandering through green pasture, ditches and trees. Nearby there was a weir and in the Summer there were lots of swimmers, mainly teenagers who would head off in groups from Ballyfermot, Chapelizod on one side, Lucan on the other, while the groups from Palmerstown would sometimes head down through the grounds of Stewarts Hospital and cross the old Cattle Bridge and drop down through Lord Moyne’s estate onto the road. 

You needed to get to ‘The Wrens’ early to bag a seat in the back parlour, known as the tap-room where Irish music was regularly played; the room had a big fire and featured in the music album At Home with The Dubliners. Some friends, led by multi-talented Tommy Walsh (foreground in photo with tin whistle), played music – an accordion, banjo, mandolin, tin whistles and they would group in a corner and there would be a session for the evening. 

My father( with glasses in the photo) brought along a set of spoons or sometimes played the bones, while my younger sister, Eilish, often played the tin whistle, and my brother Denny (photo below) played the Bodhran. It was great fun; the music was definitely good and in-between there was conversation and a bit of craic. 

denny

You could order your drink from Peter who did both the Bar and the floor and who would barge through the parlour carrying pints with complete disregard to those who were left standing in his effort to deliver the drink and collect the money; he was intolerant of standers, insisting they find a seat or return to the bar. The musicians usually got a round or two of free pints. 

The Wrens had a quaint feel about it. It was a family-run, locals’ bar; the light was low and occasionally interesting people dropped in. The late Paul Furey arrived one Sunday afternoon, shoved his accordion box – which doubled as a stool - into the centre of the floor before sitting down and launching into a brilliant set of reels played at a pace that left everyone breathless. The late Michael O’Leary, the then Minister for Labour, arrived one Sunday with a tall, pretty, female partner, and a bodyguard - it was during the worst days of the troubles – and he proceeded, after a lot of nervous, yet convivial chat and joking to give a haunting rendition of “The Rocks of Bawn”. It was memorable.


Gentl© Barry Cullen 2018