Wandering around the centre of Dublin, you can barely turn around without being faced with any number of great pubs. The drinks are flowing, the craic is great and the ceol is usually cranked up to 11.
Sometimes though, there's a lot to be said for getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city and escaping to more peaceful surroundings. That said, you don't have to go far in Dublin to find just that. Down in the Strawberry Beds, just about 6km from the city centre, one can find one of Dublin's most quaint and underrated pubs.
The Strawberry Hall is unusual in Dublin in that it's pretty much isolated in its Liffeyside surroundings, save for the odd cottage or two nearby. There's no nipping into the deli next door for a mid-pint chicken fillet roll from this location.
What you will find though is one of the most authentic pubs in the entire city with more character than you can shake a stick at.
You'll find yourself not noticing the hours going by as the friendly staff look after your every need. While the pub, known colloquially as 'The Straw Hall', will always attract swathes of curious passers-by, it also caters to a loyal local clientele from nearby areas such as Lucan, Castleknock, Chapelizod and Blanchardstown.
My personal favourite time to visit the Strawberry Hall is on a warm, sunny day where I can have a chinwag with friends in the beer garden out the front. There's plenty of reason to stay after the sun goes down though with regular live music sessions and the opportunity to get to grips with the bagatelle table (don't worry - the regulars will explain.)
While spring and summer nights are well spent in the Straw Hall, many of you might mostly associate the pub with Christmas time when it transforms into a festive wonderland.
Shiny and colourful decorations don every inch of the interior giving customers that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes along every December.
So if the Strawberry Hall is so isolated, how can I get to it?
Good question! While the pub isn't exactly in the middle of nowhere, it is fairly off the beaten track. If the weather is good to you, it's well worth taking a stroll down from the Phoenix Park or Castleknock Village, which can be accessed by the 37 and 39 Dublin Bus routes or the Maynooth commuter Irish Rail line. Be sure to take care once you hit the long and winding road under the West Link M50 bridge as traffic can come out of nowhere. Single file, folks.
If you don't fancy trekking down, the good people at the Straw Hall also offer a shuttle bus service from Lucan, Castleknock, Chapelizod, Ashtown, Clonsilla and Blanchardstown which runs from 8pm to 11pm every night.
Alternatively, a taxi from any part of the city wouldn't cost too much between a few people and, frankly, it'd be worth every penny because once you sample the Strawberry Hall once, you'll want to return again and again.