Stoop’s Pub and Joe May’s

Stoop Your Head is a well known hostelry where one may slake one’s thirst if one cares to. For many years it was owned by Michael Duffy, who hailed from Cabinteely and was a tea traveller for a large part of his life. He first came here in 1914 and spent the remainder of his life here assuaging our thirsts. On the gable end next to Gowan’s, he painted the words in large letters Grosvenor House, a rather fancy name for an ordinary common place pub, but later changed it to Stoop Your Head. The reason was probably, at some customer’s suggestion because Micheal J. Duffy was constantly shouting at persons who wanted to go from the bar to the lounge “Stoop Your Head”! This was necessary as the ceiling was very low in places.

The proprietor in time became known as Old Stoop but never Old Grosvenor, a name in fact that was promptly forgotten. Old Stoop operated an all male pub, as was customary in those days and quite successfully, too. It is as well to mention here that there has been a change in our drinking habits. Nowadays, people guzzle pints or Guinness or Ale. It is the popular drink.

It wasn’t always so. For the genuine, authentic, honest-to-God toper, whiskey was the drink and pints of porter were only for dock-labourers and their ilk.

Certain pubs earned the reputation of keeping first-class whiskey, as now they are highly regarded if they keep “a good pint”. Now Stoops was very primitive by modern standards. The seating was hard. Indeed there was hardly a soft seat in the pub. But nevertheless the whiskey men flocked in. They weren’t bothered about seating but about drinking and so he had a fine clientele, mostly of course, during the summer season, men after his own heart.

He was an excellent raconteur who delighted talking about the Dublin of fifty years before, about characters like the Bird Flanagan who walked its streets in the early days of the century, a lost world. He kept what he called “a respectable house”, the innuendo being that not everyone had the same high standards.

His neighbour, only a short distance away, allowed women to cross the sacred portals, not by design but by accident. Joe May’s was the nearest pub to The Tower where the Tower Mascots had their entertainment. They liked a drink after a tiring day’s work and so Joe May had to admit their women folk, dancers and so on, as he was perfectly entitled by law to do.

Joe May was the genial publican par excellence and was immensely popular. He had a way with him. Being a life-long friend of Joe’s, I used frequent his pub mostly at week-ends and never found his lady customers an occasion of sin. They were Glaswegians mostly, jolly and well-behaved.

Paddy Halpin [SHS, 1994]