The Flowing Tide
Named for the tide that flows up and down the nearby Liffey, or for the traditional tune, guidebooks claim that The Flowing Tide benefits from its proximity to the Abbey Theatre. Some certainly benefited in 1907 when they took refuge in the pub from the violence in the theatre after Synge's Playboy of the Western World was first performed.
On the corner of Marlborough and Lower Abbey St and served by the Luas, to the visitor's eye the pub does not seem to garner much of the thespian crowd these days, who no doubt head to glitzier establishments across the river. But stories abound of nights when those who tread the boards pack the place, gossiping and drinking their meagre savings away.
When there is no performance on across the road the clientele of the Flowing Tide is a curious mix. Student types mix with grizzled old timers. A group of Indians gives impromptu renditions of wailing songs almost exactly like a ‘Sean Nós' dirge that could be heard in a pub in west Clare on any night, except for the Hindu lyrics (but who can really tell?). The occasional Goth wanders through, brushing past the bankers.
The décor is unique. Refurbished snug's surround a large open plan area, with the bar curving strangely towards the centre, possibly in the spirit of its namesake. On the walls hang many theatrical images, as well as a large mural celebrating Irish playwrights and their work. The most striking piece is a backlight strip of stained glass high on one wall, showing the Greek masks of comedy and tragedy, that bears extended examination.
A friend exclaimed “This is not a charming Irish pub!” on entering one afternoon, due to the presence of two televisions and the ever so slightly seedy atmosphere. Admittedly, they are large and loud, but they are the few faults in an otherwise resolutely authentic, unpretentious and oddly beautiful pub, in an area of the city with all too few.