Having been serving pints since 1780, this is one of Dublin’s oldest pubs. Formerly known as Doherty’s, the business was bought in 2006 by a band of traditional musicians known as The Merry Ploughboys, who have since developed this popular drinking hole into a leading live music and entertainment venue.
Every night, in the room above the pub, they host a live traditional Irish music performance accompanied by a troupe of Irish dancers, where guests can have a four-course meal while they enjoy the show.
And, thankfully, the food in no way plays second fiddle to the music at The Merry Ploughboy. As soon as you glance at the menu, you know you’re in for something more than mere pub grub.
Suppliers are all name-checked on the menu to include both local (Rathfarnham) vegetable and herb producers, and other leading producers from across the country such as Kettyle’s beef (Fermanagh), Silver Hill duck (Cavan), Jim and Breda Maher’s goat’s cheese (from the famous Cooleeney cheesemakers in Tipperary), Bellingham Blue (Louth), Kilmore Quay scallops (Wexford), Jim Telford’s Fermanagh black pork and more.
The dining area of the pub is cosy and inviting, with memorabilia charting the historic pub’s vibrant and colourful history, while bare wood and candlelight set the mood, creating a warm and homely ambience.
The menu is well thought out, offering an à la carte selection, a ‘pub favourites’ section, plus daily blackboard specials and a choice of vegetarian and children’s dishes.
‘Pub favourites’ (average about €13.50) include the likes of traditional fish & chips and appetising Merry Ploughboy beefburger, served with either Aged Dubliner cheddar or chorizo and mozzarella.
On the à la carte, you’ll find tempting starters (about €4-8.50) such as seafood chowder served with homemade Guinness brown bread; Jim and Breda Maher’s Goats cheese rolled in hazelnuts; and salmon, prawn and Castletownbere crab cakes.
Main courses prices are moderate, ranging from about €14.50 to €22.95, with the most expensive being a chargrilled Kettyle Irish Angus fillet with all the trimmings. Other choices include such promising dishes as a Tasting of Jim Telford’s pork (smoked belly, Tournafulla black pudding and apple boudin, medallion of fillet served with berry cider jus); darne of Clare Island organic salmon (with chive creamed potato, roasted tomato and lemon and chervil dressing) and roast breast of Silver Hill duck (served on a bed of sweet chilli, coriander and ginger infused vegetables, with confit of damson).
Tasty and wholesome, this is enjoyable food – and presentation is also a real highlight, with a lot of effort going into serving food attractively on wooden boards and slate plates and other pleasing touches.
Desserts (about €5.50) are all homemade on the premises, offering homely favourites like traditional bread and butter pudding and warm sticky toffee pudding alongside more sophisticated dishes such as an apple and plum tarte tatin which is served still warm in a small iron pan, and tastes delicious.
The Merry Ploughboy is a popular venue for the coach-loads of tourists who flock to the venue to enjoy the music and show upstairs – but also with locals, who come back time and again for the good food and warm atmosphere.