Drunken Detritus: The Lost and Found of Dublin Clubs

Pissed, tipsy, gee-eyed, stocious, whiffled, mouldy, smashed, and sloshed. Take your pick of the slang to describe your level of inebriation the previous night.

Now take a moment to check your pockets and purses. Rattle what jewellery you might have left.

For some it’s keys, for others it’s a passport, a precious necklace or a swanky jacket. Having drunk and danced yourself to oblivion, a lost item is the last of your worries.

Until the following morning. That’s when many retrace their steps and reclaim belongings they’ve dropped in smoking areas or left on bars.

But others seem to forget about their belongings, and never bother to return for them. For these forsaken items, unclaimed and unloved, what does the future hold?

A Half-Cut Collection

Peggy Vather has worked in Doyle’s on College Green for 29 years. Pouring both day and night, she’s amassed something of a trove of lost items as yet unclaimed.

One would be correct to assume the usual suspects appear in the lost and found in a pub-club such a Doyle’s. It’s a solid, worn kind of den where you can flail about upstairs to the Strokes of a Saturday. It’s free in, and there’s no cloak room to be seen.

At the end of each night, the detritus of the drunken is gathered up and placed in a small nook behind the downstairs bar. Some items are collected the next day, others have long since gathered dust.

“We’ve a bag for what night items are left, and the next day the phone rings, especially on a Saturday and Sunday morning,” says Vather. “I’d say we get upwards of ten calls on those days.”

From behind the bar, Vather produces three pint glasses, which serve as the final resting places for dozens of unclaimed keys. Downstairs, she cranks open the staff-room door to reveal a half a dozen rucksacks, shelved passports, and a handful of smart phones.

“I could have ten or twelve bags of clothes that we’d give to the charity shop because you just couldn’t keep them,” she says. “Christmas week, we’d 15 bags of clothes and rucksacks and books and presents.”

Vather says changing times have left her wondering why on earth people leave behind so much. “I think years ago you might get an umbrella,” she says. “Now, I just don’t know what is. Years ago you, I think, it cost too much money, you minded yourself”.

Over on Capel Street, Pantibar has seen its fair share of bits left behind, too. Manager Shane Harte says the most common items are mobile phones, credit cards, occasionally passports, sunglasses, clothes, hats, scarves, and umbrellas.

“Most of the messages on the answering machine are lost-property messages,” he says. “Mostly the mobile phones seem to be people’s precious possession.”

There’s been a few odd ones in the lost and found.  A pair of trousers discarded behind a chair, a pair of fake boobs, and a crutch.

“That was obviously somebody who was in a bit of pain when they went to the pub and the more they drank the more the pain went away,” says Harte.

The lost and found in the bar is donated to the charity shops every two months. Most items are found behind chairs.

Harcourt Street and Beyond

While Doyle’s and Pantibar could be considered more pub-clubs, the behemoths of Harcourt Street are a different breeding ground for the well-meaning but well-oiled.

Each evening, Dushantan Raja clocks in to work at the Russell Court Hotel. Here, he looks after the leftovers from the three clubs below: Dicey’s, Krystle, and Bond Nightclub.

For the absent-minded, there’s a wealth of places we could lose our jacket, phone or passport, the most common items found in Dicey’s and its neighbours.

“We have a small storage so we keep for one month,” he says. “Most people come and collect, and at the end of the month there’s only one small bag.”

One problem, he says, is the fact that people don’t always know where they lost their belongings, a common grievance of Doyle’s manager Vather.

Darragh Flynn has worked in nightclubs for some time. He now manages The George. As he sees it, the business of lost and found should be done right.

“It’s a service we provide for people,” he says. “We catalogue everything we get in, and keep a log what day we got it.”

Flynn cites the costly nature of losing items as another reason to dutifully jot down the things left behind.

Clothing is kept in The George for up to a month and is then donated to charity. The club has, on average, 100 jackets at the end of the month. Many a decent coat has been put on the racks of the nearby Oxfam shop.

More often, says Flynn, it’s the sentimental items that people call back for, while phones, passports, and keys can take an age to shift.

“We do our best to get stuff back to people,” he says. “I’d like to think we get certainly over half back to people.”

Like the Russell Court’s Raja, the staff at The George scroll through Facebook if a wallet or ID card shows up. But, says Flynn, often people unsurprisingly don’t remember where they’ve been so items remain unclaimed behind the bar.

Items left in the cloak room are kept a lot longer, while bags can be kept for up to six months. Passports are kept indefinitely.


The loss of personal belongings isn’t solely the preserve of the drinker. Often, though, with the loss of our inhibitions, so go our belongings.

When Flynn worked in Zanzibar club on the quays, he happened upon an odd item one night.

“We opened up the disabled toilet and there was a wheelchair sitting there,” he recalls. “So the mother rang the following day saying her son had had a few drinks and thinks he can walk.”

Vather of Doyle’s came across a set of false teeth when cleaning up one night. Having tissue-ed them up, she awaited a phone call. Two days later, a woman came in inquiring as to her beloved’s missing dentures.

“They were her husband’s, they were new and he’d put in them in his pocket, and they’d fallen out,” she says. “But he got them back!”

Only a few days ago she returned a hefty stack of ID cards to the nearby Pearse Street Garda Station. Vather reckons about 50 percent of the items left in Doyle’s are either returned or claimed in person by their owner.

Vather has begun noticing changes in the items left behind in Doyle’s.

In the past, the odd umbrella would take up residence, but now single shoes seem to occupy an awful lot of room in the bags downstairs.

God only knows why, says Vather, but she reckons it comes to down to the switch from heels to flats. Many have left Doyle’s with only one shoe in their bag, it seems.

After a few months, Vather has to clear the space. Phones and passports are held for a long time, keys much the same. ID cards are easy enough to return, or handed into Pearse Street Garda station. Although there’s a place to write your address on your passport, most people don’t and therefore they go unclaimed more often.

False teeth have yet to make a reappearance.



Cónal Thomas: Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

Reader responses

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at 18 May 2016 at 12:16

Shouldn’t passports be handed back to the passport office after a few days?

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