Rent a bike, get some nails, drink a pint.
There is no purer drinking spot on Earth than Foxy John’s in Dingle, Ireland. Tall praise, but the facts support the designation for the part-time hardware store, part-time pub that operates in one of Ireland’s most scenic settings on the southwestern tip of the island. The sign that juts out just above the front door says it all, with equal weight given to Foxy John’s status as pub, hardware store and bicycle rental / repair shop.
And the exterior is glorious, a green and white palette in traditional Irish pub style, with black and white subway tiles serving as accent to the red door and wide windows that frame the front wall. Around the corner, the storage area attached to the main bar can be seen, with all manner of bike parts and ancient hardware potpourri dotting the shelves.
That same aesthetic carries into the space itself, a narrow alley between two long, wooden low bars that might as well grown out of the wood floor themselves given how sturdy they look and how it seems implausible that anything else has ever stood on this ground. The walls are inundated with box after nondescript box of something vaguely industrial looking, all perched upon a labyrinth of shelves that supports what looks to be centuries of hardware remnants that have been waiting for a buyer for some time. Even the ceilings feature hanging selections adorned with handwritten price tags, the perfect place for that nail gun you’ve had your eye on.
As with many Irish pubs, the central corridor features a handful of short, squat wooden chairs that make for an interesting body position when trying to avoid the solid wood walls that aren’t fond of knees or legs or any limb at all, really. On busy nights, this main corridor is thick and largely impenetrable, a cascade of elbows and apologies as people desperately try to crane for a beer or bathroom. On occasion a singer or two cram themselves behind the hardware portion of the bar, impressively finding room to stand upright with guitar in hand.
The magic corner of Foxy John’s is the snug just to the left of the main entrance, a narrow wooden coffin of a space with a window view and a private drink counter with direct access to the bar. This reviewer has had the pleasure of an evening spent in this snug a handful of times, and there can be no finer way to get drunk on stout as black as night. Snagging this space on a busy night requires some real commitment with an early entrance and a group big enough to fend off the invading hordes.
On slower nights, the chance to revel in the environment provides an endless stream of conversation, ranging from the signs long forgotten atop the crowded shelves to sheer curiosity into Foxy John’s hardware inventory, ranging from rubber gloves to chisels. Over the years, the assortment has changed and the space has transformed, gradually shaping the space to hold as many drinkers as possible. A back room was renovated some years ago, offering a secondary, fireplace-dominated drinking location and an open-air patio accommodates smokers that not long ago would have spilled out into the street, cigarette in one hand, beer in the other.
This is not an unbiased review. This reviewer’s favorite city is Dingle and favorite pub is Foxy John’s, so the 10 out of 10 rating will come as no shock. But to support that bold position, I would simply offer up that there aren’t many places on earth where your thirst, hardware and extermination needs can all be satisfied in a location quite as perfect as Foxy John’s. And get their early to snag the snug.