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The Last Shaw: our review of the final party at the Bernard Shaw

Today, Friday the 15th of November 2019, the new Bernard Shaw is opening on the Northside, in Cross Guns Bridge, Dublin 9. But will the new place be as good as the old one? South of the Liffey, on Sunday, the 3rd of November, the last show was hugely stirring for the regulars who have been coming there for the past 13 years.

In the middle of the crowd, a partier is holding his small dog. The funny bow-wow, dressed in a Pikachu costume, attracts the attention of the party-goers on their way back to the dancefloor. The thin rain doesn’t seem to be disturbing them. They have another idea in their mind: partying one last time at the Bernard Shaw, in the Southside.

The pub is moving to Dublin 9 after 13 years of existence in South Richmond Street. Due to an issue with the Dublin City Council and An Bord Plaenala, The Bernard Shaw is not allowed anymore to use the place, which was actually rented by the owner. The noises in the beer garden and in the outside dancefloor were too loud for the neighbours… Classic!

Saving the Shaw spirit in a new place was an obligation for the owner. When they knew the pub would close, the management team published a statement on the 9th of September where they said: “Dublin is changing, we can all see and feel it but we are going nowhere and we won’t go down without a fight. We’ll start something else, somewhere else, and keep fighting the good fight.” The thing is there is no other bar like the Bernard Shaw in the city.

Citation from George Bernard Shaw.

A Landmark of art and music

It was a cult place for all electronic music, art expositions and live concerts lovers. It was considered a landmark for underground culture in the capital; the best place to meet people because of its particular mood, totally free. A place where, as everyone say, “you can do whatever you want, no one will judge you.”

It was also a paradise for street-food lovers. A small market full of food trucks called the Eatyard had joined a side of the Shaw. They offered Mexican, Greek or Lebenese food. Everything is decorated by street artists, and made with second-hand material. The people’s firm favourite food truck is located in the beer garden: the Big Blue Bus, a city bus reorganized as a pizzeria.

The Eatyard was busy for the last show.

“You do whatever you want and no one can tell you that you can’t”

“Here, everyone talks to each other, everyone loves each other. You come, whoever you are or whatever you look like, the Shaw will have you” is arguing Aoifi, obviously so happy to defend his favorite pub. Even alcohol and the fact that it is the last party may make people overplay it, they all use the same sort of adjectives to describe it: “people are cool, it’s convivial” for Antonella, “each time I come, it is different” for William or “it’s a unique place, you come here, and you do whatever you want and no one can tell you that you can’t” for Alisson Oly, the owner of the Big Blue Bus.

Aoifi is going one step further in her thought by saying “it is not the Bernard Shaw which commands its mood and people who follow it. People are commanding the vibes and the Bernard Shaw follows.” Her friend Sam finds a really good advantage on the location of the pub, the old one: “It is located on the road between the city and the houses. That is why a lot of people are coming. In the Northside, it will be on the road to nothing.”

Aoifi, Sam and two of their friends.

How will be the new Bernard Shaw?

The main worry for the biggest fans of the Bernard Shaw is to know if the new pub will be as good as the old one. Most of them think it won’t be the same. “It’s like your fist love. The next ones are never as good as the first one” is embellishing Alisson before adding: “It won’t be better, it won’t be less good. It will be different.” Some are really uncertain. “Before, it was a place called Sin é. People were in tears when it closed and when it reopened, it had never been the same” sorrowfully relates Dave.

It confirms that vibes can disappear with a place. In the Bernard Shaw’s case, the reputation and the authenticity are also due to how the place looks like. In a middle of a busy street where modern buildings, banks and supermarkets are common, the Shaw is an oddball. The pub is made in dark bricks surrounded by two ruins. Tags are adorning its walls and, one is saying: “another building?”

Cranes all over the pub and the area are emphasizing the fact that the Bernard Shaw might be destroyed one day to erect a new building. “You know, people will continue to support it. People follow good things” hopes Dave. Tonight, people will have the first part of the answer.

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