In honour of their second birthday, Taylor's Bar will be re-opening their doors from 5pm on Monday 20 July with food served up out the back and if we know one thing for certain - we can't wait to get back into that beer garden! In that vein, there’s never been a better time to take a wander through the storied history of 7 Dominick Street Upper. From grocer-come-bar to a gentlemen’s club, the building’s journey started back in the 19th century and has evolved alongside the surrounding city to become one of the Westend’s most beloved boozers.
Built back in the 1830s, the building was originally a grand merchant house with high ceilings and large windows that served as an indication of stature within the locality. Converted into a grocery store and bar in the late 1800s by the McDonnell family, the Dominick Street destination stood right in the centre of what was then a thriving retail hub. To this day, a well-worn limestone plaque can be seen on the ground inside the entrance inscribed with what looks to be ‘McDonnell & Co’.
In 1910, George and John Brabazon Ellard acquired ownership of the property and created a lease for 150 years. However, after changing hands time and time again, the building was bought by Paddy and Vera Taylor and in 1949 the building became a well-respected watering hole by the name of Taylor’s Bar. With their son, Michael 'Mick' Taylor, coming into the world the very year they took over the bar, he seemed to be born with the art of entertaining flowing through his veins and took over the running of the bar at the age of 31.
Living over the commercial building, the Taylor family sitting room was the setting for many’s the lengthy conversation, putting the world to rights and laughing, singing, dancing and dreaming into the early hours of the morning. Downstairs, quality meat hung from the window along with snuff, tobacco and general groceries all available in the front shop, while the party continued in the back with pints of Smithwicks and tumblers of whiskey keeping the patrons in good spirits.
With Mick Taylor at the helm, the establishment was frequented by Galway’s bohemian community and the walls still echo with the music, poetry and artistry of the many creative regulars. President Michael D and Sabina Higgins even called this spot their local at a stage! Mick was at the centre of it all, enlightening those around him with his social consciousness that was far ahead of his time. Seriously progessive and a proud leftist, Mick was a big believer in the communist and socialist idealism, while remaining one of the most entertaining and absorbing publicans around. As a matter of fact, Mick was the first man in Galway to light a barbeque on the premises of a pub, thus creating the first beer garden!
Sadly passing away at just 40 years of age, Taylor’s Bar just wasn’t the same without Mick Taylor’s lively, liberal spirit. Sorely missed by those who teetered on bar stools, receiving an education from this well-read man and his widowed mother, who wistfully survived him, Seamus Mulligan kept the show on the road until the pub was eventually closed in 2004. From this point, the property was converted into gentlemen's club, ‘Le Paradis Club’.
In 2018, the cobwebs of lost time were wiped away and the memories of days gone by slowly began to be revived under the watchful eye of Johnny Duggan. Staying true to the building’s heritage, the title of Taylor’s was reclaimed and the bar and beer garden seamlessly marry the old with the new. Known for their live entertainment, sports coverage and whiskey selection, this is a great spot for a sup any day of the week.
Now a listed building for its architectural interest, much of the original carved woodwork, stained glass windows and fixtures have been perfectly preserved within the bar. Following the typical layout of a 19th century public house, the premises reflects certain archaic social norms that wouldn’t be quite so acceptable these days. The rear bar was reserved for men only, with a convenient little hatch from which women may procure their tipple of choice without encroaching on the male territory.
Having spent the past two years rising to the top of Galway’s pub scene, Taylor’s Bar remains loyal to its traditions while making new memories every night of the week. Just last year, on the 40th anniversary of Mick Taylor’s untimely passing, the crew commissioned a portrait of the publican from Owen Durkan in a nod of respect to the man who set the pace for the place. Whenever you find yourself in the area, pop in and raise a glass to Mick, soak up the atmosphere and embrace the sensation of two worlds colliding.
Special thanks to the legend that is Johnny Duggan for helping us piece together the intricate history of number 7 Dominick Street.