Quins of Limerick – the pub with no peer

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ASCENDING the bockety old stairs up out of the darkness, I feel my heartstrings yank.

I am greeted by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia as I take in the all-too-familiar surroundings.

As my eyes readjust to daylight after a tramp around tunnels below Ellen Street, I momentarily stop in awe and puzzle over whether if I’ve just discovered a time travel portal as a flood of golden memories rush back to me.

Quins of Ellen Street Limerick
Quins of Ellen Street Limerick

I have just walked up the steps from the cellar of what was one of the very finest watering holes Limerick has ever known and it’s like bumping into a dear old friend you haven’t seen in donkey’s.

I am instantly transported back to the same establishment 20 years earlier and filled with awe as I savour every moment back in my old stomping ground.

The sense of déjà vu is so strong that a tear wells up in the corner of my eye as the ghosts of yesteryear come out of the woodwork to greet me.

For many Limerick people of my generation, Quin’s on Ellen Street will hold a very special place in our hearts. I enjoyed many good times within these walls in the late eighties and early to mid-nineties. Revisiting the popular hostelry one last time brought friends and faces to the front of my mind that I haven’t seen in eons.

Standing here now, I hold an imaginary glass aloft to toast all those that played their small part in making this city pub such a special place.

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I can almost see Christy, the best barman in Limerick in his day, pulling creamy pints and dishing out even creamier wisecracks to all that dared next the name of his beloved Manchester United in vain. Cheers Christy! Here’s to you!

 Ellen Street formerly Quins Bar Picture: Keith Wiseman
Quins of Ellen Street Limerick

Quin’s was part of the holy trinity on a night out.

Pints and banter would first be had in the popular Ellen Street public house before moving onto the legendary Termight Klub in the top floor of The Savoy. No night, of course, was then complete without the obligatory bag of garlic and cheese chips from The Lobster Pot before reeling in the festivities.

I can almost hear Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers still blasting out of the beloved jukebox at the end of the bar as I walk through this now desolate drinking establishment. All the familiar faces and characters that added to the charm of this wonderful old-world saloon are ingrained in its wooden paneling and limestone brickwork.

Quin’s has been closed since August 2006 but it’s still in pretty good shape. All it would take is a bit of elbow grease and a rub-a-dub-dub to get her up and running again. This realisation though only leaves me with a heaviness of heart as I stroll down memory lane.

Thankfully, the rules of the bar, which are still hanging up behind the counter, provide me with a warm fuzzy glow. It feels as though I last laid eyes upon them only yesterday.

“Two to a seat,” the sign proudly advises.

“Customers lying on the floor will not be served.”

Quin’s menu board also sits propped up on the bar with chalk lettering informing us that roast beef was served as the last meal for patrons before the stove finally received its death papers. While the price of a pint at the time of this popular taproom’s untimely demise was €3.55, according to a notice on the wall.

The old style pub charm is still intact and décor has been well preserved. Photographs of smiling customers, regulars and visitors from afar, taken during the pub’s heyday, stare down from every corner. I am taken right back.

I can vividly remember popping in for that Saturday afternoon pint, referred to as “an awful man”, after scouring the vinyl racks in Empire Music and Black Spot Records. I am whisked back to the marathon Christmas sessions with old pals and that gentle Sunday evening cure after weekends on the tiles.

Also known as The Vintage Club and The Lucky Lamp down the years, it’s a large space but this never took from its intimacy and snugness. People of all persuasions and interests, ages and backgrounds, drank together, laughed together and talked the talk here in this rich melting pot of local life. It was all here under one roof, and all were welcomed with open arms.

Proprietor Stephen Stolz and his staff ran a good ship. Trading as wine, tea and spirit wholesale merchant since 1822, Quin’s was in Stephen’s family for almost two centuries.

The atmosphere was always warm and welcoming and the service, second to none. I have many great memories here. Cheers Stephen! Here’s to you and all your loyal staff!

Ellen Street formerly Quins Bar Picture: Keith Wiseman
8-5-15 Ellen Street formerly Quins Bar
Picture: Keith Wiseman

I am surprised to find that an area of the bar that we always fondly referred to as the ‘nest’ or the ‘loft’ still has its wine cork blinds intact. I am brought straight back to 1994 and my going away party in this very spot before heading off to New York for a year.

Now closed for business, I also managed to take a peek around parts of the building that would have been out of bounds to customers back in the day. The two upper floors are equally impressive spaces complete with vaulted ceilings, carriage arch openings and limestone ashlar piers.

For a building that has been closed for almost a decade, it’s totally dry with no suggestion of damp. The possibilities for this historic building when the Opera Centre development finally gets going are endless.

The place is steeped in history and fond memories and it’s clear from my walkabout that this has not been lost on the local authority. Much care has been taken to preserve this old building’s splendours and hopefully it will one day soon bask in its former glory.

Taking my leave I once again lift my imaginary glass to toast all who frequented this fine establishment down the years.

“May the tap be open when it rusts. Sláinte!”

Ellen Street formerly Quins Bar Picture: Keith Wiseman
Ellen Street formerly Quins Bar
Picture: Keith Wiseman