Costellos Tavern was, and still is, an important part of Limericks nightlife.
A tribute to Costellos Tavern- Sticky Floor, Mon Amour…
Written by Jen Ronan
There’s a (very false) rumour that pops up every couple of years which sends people in this great city of ours of a certain age into a dark spiral of fear and nostalgia: “Did you hear Costello’s is closing down?” Jaysus, even typing that gave me chills.
There’s a kind of litmus test to determine if the friends you’re hanging out with are cool enough to keep around in your inner circle; repeat said rumour back to them and gauge their reaction. If they don’t fall to the ground sobbing, screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” while punching the nearest Raver in his Naf Naf jacket, then just walk away. They’re not worth your time.
It’s less ‘misty water-coloured memories’ when a Limerick person thinks about Costellos; more a ‘fuzzy beery-coloured flashbacks’ type situation. But God, do we love it. So much so that it’s earned its own place in Internet Meme Hall of Fame.
Costellos Tavern, to give it its full Confirmation name, is one of the truly historic sites of Limerick. A haven to all those of an ‘alternative’ disposition, who by day would roam the streets clad head-to-toe in black, wearing expressions of faux-misery and hugging everyone hello and goodbye in their immediate circle of friends, cooling their arses on the shiny filthy ground outside Todd’s while they sit and watch the passers-by (on their way to obey The Man, no doubt).
Ah, yes. I too was one of those. Still am, actually. I have been known (very recently, I’m ashamed to say) to sit in the hallowed giant red booth upstairs in my home away from home sneering at the young pretenders dancing to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and yelling at them “You weren’t even BORN when this song was released!” and then proceeding to do the exact same thing as them to a Zeppelin tune. Hypocrisy, I know. But it’s our right as grown-ups. And so the circle continues…
I guess what separates Costellos from the rest of Limerick night-life is that the previous generations who went there as youngsters are STILL regulars there. Without a trace of shame, I might add. There’s a comfort inconsistency. It’s got everything you need for a full night out.
The reassurance of Flan Senior on his stool with his cash box at the door, ready to accept eager sweaty fivers from happily twisted folk who gleefully shout “FLAAAAAAAAAAAANN!” as they approach the gates of his sticky-floored Paradise, waving their crumpled currency in the air.
The stuffy heat as you walk in and scan the bar, seeing at least four different groups of people you want to sit with and have ALL of the meaningful conversations, the contents of which, as tradition dictates, must stay within the confines of this hallowed space forever. The Beer Pong down the back. The mural with the dreadlocked dude (or dudette, depending on who you ask).
The Old-Man decor of the pub and the awesome music being played at just the right volume for chats. The bravery that kicks in after a shot or three when one of the group stands up and announces “Right, time to go…UPSTAIRS.”
Oh, yes. Upstairs is where ALL the awesomeness of the wee small hours happens. It’s the drunken equivalent of The Magic Door in Bosco. You step up warily into darkness, you know the lads are in here somewhere, so you might as well head to the bar and order a dri-OH MY GOD HE’S PLAYING THE SMITHS I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!!
On the floor, while spinning madly doing the Morrissey patented arm-flail, you see two mates. They grab you screaming “Where were you? We thought you’d gone home!” Then drag you out to the rest of the crew, who are serving their time in the Seventh Circle of Hell known to all as the smoking section.
You’re torn. Smoking areas in bars are single-handedly the most smelly, disgusting, lung-violating place in the world (can you tell it’s a non-smoker writing this?) and while every cell in your body is roaring at you to leave, you simply have to stay. Why? Because that’s where the core banter is, that’s why. I don’t make the rules, I just know they have to be obeyed.
There isn’t a sinner in Limerick worth their salt who doesn’t get a tingle in their tummy when the weekend comes around after a bad few days and someone says “Costellos on Saturday? Be grand…” It’s a place unlike any other and has to be experienced to be believed. There’s a reason it has achieved cult status in this fantastic quirky city of ours. It is what it is, and makes no apologies. It’s just simply…perfect.
On and on it goes, every week without fail. Costellos is a part of our past, our present, and even though we’ll be responsible adults during the weekdays, rest assured the spiritual home of Limerick grungers and rockers will most definitely be in our future. Possibly our kids’ futures too, but we’ll let them have the Fridays; Saturdays belong to us.
Flan and Family: To those about to take our fivers, we salute you.
For Jens blog, click here.
For more stories about Limericks nightlife, click here.