Technically the address for Forde’s may be Barrack Street – and it does indeed have a door that opens onto the bottom of that street, below the Flying Enterprise – but in truth the pub’s long facade sits squarely on Sullivan’s Quay, looking out onto the Lee with the South Gate bridge just to the left. If you asked me to choose between my usual stops – Forde’s and An Spailpín – I couldn’t. And wouldn’t. I’m fond of both but frequent them for very different reasons.
The seats and stools in Forde’s are cushioned and comfortable, so if I have the time of an evening to read a good paper – in print or online – over a slow pint I step in here. Wood and patterned glass partitions and a fireplace lit on cooler nights. They have the best price on a Murphy’s I’ve seen in the city. And it’s a lovely pint. Unlike An Spailpín there is no live music but if I want to watch a live rugby or football game I come here. Several well-placed big screens. Absent sports the TV is typically on at night but more as background. As with all good pubs the bar staff soon know your preference; a nod or raised glass is enough to indicate another. Forde’s is very much a local’s bar with a quieter clientele; I recognise the repeat offenders. While it can get busy, it’s never jammed, even on a weekend night. I’m here most often on a Friday or Saturday.
A place overlooked by the rowdy and the power drinkers. Possibly because conversation might be required. Their neglect my benediction. Forde’s provides positive reminder of what pubs were largely like in the northwest of my youth, before philistines with yawning wallets and questionable tastes decided that the institution needed to be re-imagined. They were wrong, as is plainly evidenced by the attempts of newer establishments to recreate the past or older ones to rediscover it. Forde’s is authentic and that adjective is not airily applied.
Forde’s, 2, Barrack Street, Cork City
Phone 021 431 6009
A pint of Murphy’s is €4.30, Beamish €3.70.