This fascinating and authentic pub is located just nine miles from the capital on the north coast of Dublin.The coastal seatown of Malahide is today properly celebrated as the mecca of Dublin social and leisure activities but some fifty years back it was merely a country village surrounded by pasture and cornland. And when the Gibney family first arrived here on December 6th 1937- (in plenty of time to catch the Christmas drinks trade!) - they were entering what was essentially a "spit and sawdust pub" with a backyard that contained an apple garden and a pungent smelling piggery.Gibneys Pubfront

For the Gibney family, who have been five generations in the Dublin licensed trade, this may have appeared an unusual acquisition - but it continued the family migration trend northwards towards the coast. At the time James Joseph Gibney paid £2,500 for this pub, he also owned the Royal Hotel in Howth and the famous Phoenix Bar in Parkgate Street - the once famous refuge of Michael Collins. It was here that the young Jack Gibney learned to ploy the wares of the licensed trade before moving to Malahide. His father,James Joseph, was regarded as something of an entrepreneur in the trade and had also owned the Abbey Tavern in Howth which he sold in 1925. His forebearers were also conspicuous in the Dublin trade having served at Bow Lane Street, the Haymarket in Smithfield, where they ran a Bakery, Grocery and Eating House, and also at Benburb Street. In 1937, and for many years beforehand, the Malahide pub had been known as the Abercorn Tavern - the name which had been adopted by Henry Barton Cooke on the 6th of June 1890 when he acquired the pub from James O’Hara and the ground landlord, the Right Honourable Richard Hogan Baron Talbot De Malahide.

By 1917 Henry Cooke was suffering financial distress and the premises became partly invested in Ormond Quay Auctioneer and Valuer, Andrew Keogh, who had forwarded Henry some £400.

Though Henry Cooke was the nominal owner, the premises appears to have been administered by his daughter Alice, who had married James Archbold, until the sale in 1937 The present licence of Gibneys can be traced back to 1845 but for almost a century beforehand this pub had been one of the treasured custodians of Dublin licensed heritage, sharing an inseparable link with the Talbots of Malahide Castle who in the 18th and 19th centuries controlled the life pulse of Malahide. It was through Colonel Richard Talbot, the 18th century genius of industry, that the pub first came to prominence in the 1740’s as the famous golden Lion Inn’.

Gibney FamilyDuring this period, Malahide was a hive of prosperity: famous for its green finned oysters, cotton and silk manufacturing industries, a thriving saltworks and a huge coal yard which imported shiploads of coal daily on the tides. At this time, Colonel Talbot granted permission for an inn to be constructed on his lands near the Village Green, which was known locally as Theatreland in consequence of accommodating the visiting Circuses and strolling players who spread their tents there.
And for many years after the Golden Lion was famous for accommodating all the revellers, journeymen and pillars of Dublin society who would ride out to Malahide to enjoy the purity of its sea air and the famous oysters. For some mysterious reason the Golden Lion ceased to operate in the early years of the 19th century. One possibility is that permission to operate as an inn was refused by the Talbot family - possibly for some misdemeanour on behalf of the management or, more likely, because the tone of the premises may
have been seen to deteriorate into an orgy of drunken squalor, public unrest and dissipation. For whatever reason, the premises ceased to operate until 1845 - the year after the coming of the Malahide Railway.

Gibneys, today, receives many plaudits for its unspoilt, natural and preserved image, reminiscent of the arcadian days of Jack Gibney when rings and cards were the order of the day and when the local population arrived en mass on Sunday afternoons (opening 1 - 7p.m.) to listen to the big radio and the voice of sport - Michael O’Hehir. By 7p.m. of course many of them could scarcely remember who had won the game, not that it mattered too much at that stage.

The premises is now administered by Tony Gibney who receives ample support from his brothers John and Barry. Deceptive by appearance from the exterior, Gibneys is one of the largest pubs in Dublin, accommodating a bar, front and back lounges, the ‘Well Room’, the Courtyard and the Caughoo Bar. Tony Gibney

On your next visit you should pay particular attention to the pitch pine, Liscannor slated, Well Room. Here you will see a wishing well which is not just another gimmick of contemporary pub modernization. This was previously used as the Wash Room where all the bottles were washed before bottling. Don’t be tempted to stick,your nose into the wishing well It holds some 14,000 gallons of water and was used for many years as the village well. Some villagers will tell you that it has healing properties - qualities which may have been very useful in a house which bonded their own potent whiskeys.

While you are there, ask Tony or one of the lads to show you some of the five gallon porcelain casks of whiskey from Locks Distillery in Kilbeggan and Powers of John's Lane.

You can then wander into the courtyard and enjoy the quality of the Malahide sea air washed down by some healthy libations from the bar. This pub operates one of the most advanced cold rooms and cooling systems in the entire trade even though the ritual pouring of Guinness is still reverently observed and wondered at like one of the hidden secrets of nature. For a nocturnal fling, try the caughoo bar named after the legendary horse who raced, fleet footed as a stag, through the mists and fog of Aintree to win the 1947 Grand National.

But don’t try to emulate him - You may not be quite as fleet footed as you think when you leave the bar.

Back to top