It’s been about 20 years since the boarded-up Aungier House pub on the corner of Aungier Street and Digges Street closed.
Now, though, it seems set to get a €1 million revamp.
What some call one of Ireland’s largest pub chains, Press Up, has submitted plans to restore the pair of buildings at 43 Aungier Street and 1 Digges Street in Dublin 2, and reopen it.
It’s a protected Victorian building and will be renovated with an eye to its 190-year history as a public house, according to the planning application.
Owned by a vintner called Patrick Brady back in 1825, over the years, it has passed between publicans, a grocer and spirits merchants, according to records.
The new owners plan to restore it in line with its history – with a notable addition. If it’s built according to the plans that have been filed, there’ll also be a new roof-top terrace.
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council, which owned the building, said they have agreed to sell the premises to Rustic Way Ltd (Press Up/Oakmount Group).
Councillors have to agree to sales of council-owned properties, and they agreed to this one at their monthly meeting on 5 December. According to the council’s “disposal report”, the building sold for €831,000.
The directors of Rustic Way, and the Press Up group, are Matthew Ryan and Patrick McKillen Jnr.
The proposed renovation of the Aungier House pub is expected to cost around €1 million, said Aoife Kelly, head of marketing and PR for Press Up, by email.
Frank Burgess owns the premises of the three shops adjoining the pub: Techniques hair salon, the Vitamin Shop, and the Silk Route Grill.
Burgess says his family once owned the pub at 43 Aungier Street as well. His maternal grandfather bought it around 1940, and then his mother sold it in the 1970s to people from Tipperary, he said.
“It was an ordinary working-man’s pub,” he says. “The locals around the area would come in for a few pints.”
He says he doesn’t know why the pub closed down late in the 1990s. “It closed down very suddenly overnight, and we didn’t know why.”
Burgess, a pharmacist, says he is “thrilled” the Aungier House is going to be restored as a pub. “It’ll be very nice, it looks like an upmarket pub-restaurant. I think it’s fantastic,” he says.
In Techniques, the salon next to the pub, Marese Conlon says the vacant building next door has been a bit of an eyesore to the area.
“I’m delighted that it’s been bought, and that it is going to bring business to the area and give a lift to the street,” she says.
Number 43 Aungier Street is a four-storey red-brick building with designs built into its columns.
According to the planning application, it had been a public house since 1825 and is “a good example of late-Victorian Public House architecture, similar in design to a number of other Dublin pubs, notably the International Bar in Wicklow Street.”
But the interior of the protected building has not survived the dereliction and the modernisation works of previous owners.
“Few decorative features remain, other than the plasterwork on the first floor,” the application says.
There are detailed plans to restore the original appearance of the interior, with “historically appropriate” fireplaces, and stairs that look like the originals.
Surviving skirting and plasterwork will be imitated throughout, and some original doors have survived, which will be copied where other doors are needed.
The building next to 43 Aungier Street, a three-storey building around the corner at 1 Digges Street, is plainer and looks more modern. It’s probably from the mid-nineteenth century, and has “unremarkable design with few features of merit”, according to the planning application.
In Burgess’ memory, the two were always connected. Digges Street was an integral part of the pub when his family owned it, he says.
The building on Digges Street is significantly shorter than the one on Aungier Street, so that’s where the rooftop terrace will be.