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Food & Drink

18th May 2023

Why are there so many pubs named after ducks and geese in Dublin?

Fiona Frawley

duck pubs dublin

We can’t get enough of the poultry, it would appear.

It can’t be easy to come up with a name for your business. You want it so set a certain tone, evoke a particular feeling, ensure it’ll roll off the tongue when people say “will we head over to ____ for a pint?”

If you’re not going for the failsafe option of your family name, it’s tough to whittle down the perfect moniker – do you go with a famous playwright? A rebel song title? Or, do you follow the current trend with Dublin pubs and name your business after a winged creature of some sort?

If you’re a regular pub goer in Dublin, you might have noticed the sheer amount of duck honouring pubs flocking the city (not to mention the rogue dolphin in the mix, but that’s a discussion for another day).

It’s hard to pinpoint the allure of our beaked friends when it comes to naming a pub – something to do with drinking like a duck? Taking to the hospitality industry like a duck to water? Or is a duck just an innocuous, comforting creature that publicans believe will summon feelings of tranquility and zen? A fairytale-eqsue vibe to accompany your pints and bacon fries?

We haven’t gone quite as far as the UK when it comes to the sheer amount of pubs named “The Duck and the Teapot, “The Duck’s Arms”, and so forth. Most of these names are said to be associated somehow with the history of the area they’re in, but with some it’s hard to make the connection.

In the case of “The Drunken Duck” in the UK’s Lake District, the name is said to be inspired by a Victorian landlady finding her ducks dead outside the pub. When she began to pluck them (waste not want not, etc), she realised they weren’t actually dead, but drunk, probably from having chowed down on beer soaked scraps around the pub. According to lore, she felt so guilty about the whole thing that she knitted the ducks teeny woollen waistcoats to stay warm. When it comes to the geese… there are less conclusive answers

We haven’t seen any ducks in waistcoats around Dublin just yet but we’re definitely well on our way – here are all the duck/goose holes we’ve observed around town.

The Lucky Duck

Aungier Street

This three-storey redbrick specialising in craft cocktails and Asian-inspired fare gains extra points for being just a few doors down from another bird bar, the Swan Lounge. Dublin by Pub has theorised that the proximity to The Swan could have inspired the pond-themed name, but who can say for sure?

The Wild Duck

Temple Bar 

You’ll find this fairy light-adorned Duck right in the middle of town, standing unafraid in the presence of its more aggressive cousins – the seagulls of Temple Bar.

The Dalkey Duck

Dalkey 

This duck has built its nest in the affluent seaside suburb of Dalkey, providing an excellent beer garden and regular live music in the process.

The Flying Duck

Dundrum 

One of the newer duck pubs on the list, this bar in Dublin 14 doubles as a theatre and performance space and is handy for a post-shopping pint.

Duck

Fade Street 

We’re cheating with this one – it’s actually a restaurant that specialises in, you guessed it, duck. But we’ve decided it deserves a place on the list, flocking together with its birds of a feather.

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A post shared by DuckinDublin (@duckindublin)

The Goose Tavern

Drumcondra 

The Goose joined her winged sisters by migrating east (to Drumcondra, specifically), and is a family-run pub known for its extensive outdoor area and creamy pints.

So there ya go now. We might not have gotten to the bottom of why there are so many duck-inspired establishments, but at least we’ve rounded them up in one handy place. We’ll get onto the eagles in another article.

Header images via The Wild Duck/The Lucky Duck Pub Dublin

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