How did we hear about Johnnie Fox’s Pub and their Hooley Night?
My daughter and I are Reality Television lovers. Especially all the shows on the Bravo Network in the States. Our favorite series are the Real Housewives shows. We always watch Orange County, New Jersey and Beverly Hills together. I watch all the others as well but without her.
What does this have to do with our Review?
We had been watching The Real Housewives of Orange County while at one of our Housesits in England and they were showing a new episode of a trip the ladies took to Dublin Ireland.
A few days before I booked our trip to Ireland we watched this episode and decided that we had to do at least one of the things or visit one of the places they did.
We settled on Johnnie Fox’s Pub and learned what Hooley Night was all about.
To book a reservation for Hooley Night you need to do it on their online form or call them. We used the form and then they emailed us for our information. We had to pay a non-refundable deposit of €100 for 4 people (€25 pp) which we did. Here is our final bill excluding our Deposit and extra tip. It was an expensive evening but it was worth every penny. Visit their site for full pricing details.
Johnnie Fox’s Pub is in Glencullen just 30 minutes outside of Dublin’s City Center. It’s apparently the highest Pub in Ireland so there’s that also. I don’t know about highest because it was dark by the time we got there but the street getting there is crazy windy and steep. The way these buses get there at the speeds they travel while sharing the road with oncoming traffic is not something for the faint of heart.
Johnnie Fox’s has a link on their website to a bus charter company who picks up passengers for 10 Euros per person (You Pay the bus driver and get a ticket) at a handful of large hotels around Dublin. We had to call to find out these locations and pick up times. We just showed up at one of the hotels and asked the front door man where to wait. They all know about this bus so don’t worry about trying to figure it all out on your own.
The transportation is there and back. HOWEVER, the bus picks you up 30 minutes AFTER the 2nd music act is done. This might be too long for you if you are tired or have a long day or early morning planned the next day so maybe finding alternate transportation is a better option.
Upon arriving at Johnnie Fox’s Pub you will see this white building with a thatched looking roof. There is an outside hang out area and it looks kind of small from the outside. Upon entering however it’s a busy and thriving environment.
There are kitchy and odd items, knick knacks galore, in each room of this pub. There are lots of separate rooms big and cozy to hang out in, including the bar area.
To get to the Hooley Night area you walk in and head to the Right and go all the way to the end.
When we checked in with the Host, he showed us to our front row center seats. WOW! We were all so excited – Jackpot!!
We were immediately greeted by our waitress for the evening. I can’t remember her name but she was 19 and gave us great service. We placed our drink orders. Shawn & I had to get a Guinness because, well, Guinness is Irish beer! The kids had their drinks and we cheered away for a great evening.
Next, we saw the 3 man band start setting up. They looked very serious and went about their business.
We all ordered our dinners. We had some choices off of a set menu. Appetizer, Meal and then a dessert option. Something for everyone.
Appetizers came quickly. Mine was AMAZING and huge. The Mussels and sauce were just wonderful and I couldn’t get enough. I even dipped a bit of the Soda bread we received into it. This was my favorite part of our entire meal.
Shawn and the kids all had soup. While they liked it, they all thought mine was better. I know it because they each tried some and said so. If you have the option, get the Mussels.
The band started. They mostly did a lot of Irish Folk songs. They were very funny, fun and lively and you could tell they’ve all played together for a long time. There was a lot of joking and audience participation.
Our dinners came. I had the Chicken, the kids had the beef and Shawn had the Pot Pie. All were very good.
The music continued throughout dinner. One song that has stuck with us is Molly Malone. It’s super catchy and it doesn’t help that every car or bus ride we took over the next several days played it multiple times. Get to know this song well.
The band went on break and the stage was quickly cleared. The dancers started coming though to prepare. The stage was LIFTED. That was a surprise. It came to the same height as our tables.
Dinner was served and then the dancers began.
WOW. Our son is a dancer and Tap is a style he is good at. Irish Dancers wear a form of Tap shoes with a thick front and back sole. Their non-tap shoes are a mix between a ballet Pointe shoe and Jazz shoe.
We were all mesmerized, especially Sam.
At one point, the dancers started going into the audience to pick some dance partners. Sam was grabbed by one of the female dancers. See him go:
How cool was that? He was in heaven and after they presented him with a special certificate that we sent home to my parents to hold onto for him.
The dancers finished up and the band prepared to come back. I’d say about 1/2 the audience left at this point.
It’s a shame really because they paid for a full evening of dinner and entertainment and I also think it’s very rude to leave a show early. Just my personal feelings.
Anywho, We were chatting with the band leader (he sat right in front of us on stage) between one of the songs. I honestly don’t remember how the conversation came to this but we mentioned that Alex was a singer.
Well, he asked her to come onstage and sing a song with them. She was a bit mortified because most of the songs she knows like the back of her hand are from musicals or not mainstream nor are they Irish Folk Songs.
She remembered that she knew most of Carole King’s ‘I feel the earth move under my feet’ and kind of worked out the tempo with the guys. Alex doesn’t love this because she again didn’t know all the lyrics but she looks and sounds like a pro.
We were so proud of our kids for getting out there and participating. This is one memory that none of us will ever forget. What an amazing night!
The show ended at around 11pm and we were super tired, Sam was already half asleep. We had to basically sit around for 40 minutes until our bus came back. We couldn’t sit in the bar because Sam was a minor and well, this is really a bar so…we kind of had to hang out in the Hooley Room or outside.
Overall, my entire family highly recommend that you head to a Hooley Night. They occur 7 days a week and you will get a full Irish experience. I mean, you get some dinner, see the highest pub in Ireland, learn and listen to Irish Folk Music AND get some extra culture by seeing and perhaps participating in some Irish Dancing. If you were to do any one of these things individually then it would probably cost a lot more. If you can, make sure not to miss a night at Johnnie Fox’s Pub and Hooley Night.
Let me know if you have any other questions about the show, food, costs, or how to get awesome seats.