Opened in 2004 by Limerick-born David Copley, the Auld Dubliner is Long Beach’s most traditional Irish pub. (Its name was borrowed with permission from the original in Dublin.) Tucked between movie theaters and corporate restaurants in the middle of Conventioneer Central, the Dub, as regulars call it, pushes beyond tired pub stereotypes to create an essential social space that connects people to community and culture — just like in Ireland.
“There’s a sense of mockery that is frustrating when it comes to some American interpretations of Irish culture — the drunk stereotypes particularly,” says Copley. “Pub culture, yes, involves drinking, but [it is also a] place where we talked civics and politics, handled business, celebrated achievements.” The Auld Dubliner aims to not just reflect that tradition but to “inhabit” it as well.
The Dub’s wooden walls, cabinetry, and tables were designed and handmade in Collon, Ireland by John Heverin of Ol Irish Pubs and shipped to Long Beach. Copley also hired Heverin to scour Ireland’s antique marts and seller fairs for the historic artifacts lining the bar’s walls. Warm, golden lighting and paint lighten up the cavernous room, and nearly every inch is covered in Irish paraphernalia including classic Guinness and Teeling ads, and vintage and contemporary photos. Though just two decades old, the bar feels like many lifetimes have passed through it.
A particularly special element is the old bicycle that sits atop the central bar on a cabinet-like stand. “That’s my dad’s bike that he rode to work from the 1940s through to the mid-1980s,” Copley says. The feature doubles as a display for the Dub’s 180-plus bottles of whiskey.
Many Irish-owned pubs maintain traditions as an act of cultural resilience.
Much like the pubs of Ireland, including Copley’s favorites like Shoot the Crows in Sligo, Harbor Bar in Portrush, and the Palace Bar in Dublin, the Dub is filled with folks who have been there before. Among the crowd of regular revelers are devout locals (many of them pictured on the establishment’s walls including a plaque honoring the Dubliner Defenders, Chase and Jazmin Turner, who protected the pub from thieves attempting to steal whiskey in 2020) and “annual locals,” conventioneers who travel to Long Beach for various engagements throughout the year. There are a couple hundred revelers on a packed night, while just a handful of four-tops and a few day drinkers fill the room on weekday afternoons.
The Dub takes its food as seriously as its whiskies and pints (the pub ranks near the top of an annual list ranking West Coast bars that consume the most Guinness). The bestselling fish and chips are made with massive hunks of haddock dunked in a beer batter before deep-fried and drizzled with malt vinegar. The fish is served with fries and tartar sauce. Also popular among the local set is the shepherd’s pie, a heap of broiled and bubbly mashed potatoes atop a savory mix of ground beef, onion, peas, and carrots.
Copely’s frequent trips to Ireland, sometimes with an organized group of dedicated pub patrons in tow, are reflected in the Dub’s often-changing menu. “It’s really beautiful to see pubs [in Ireland] offering fresh oysters, razor clams — you name it,” he says. “We are finally getting to enjoy our island’s resources because they were exported before to keep the economy afloat.”
In the past three decades in Ireland, increased immigration and a fast-growing economy have contributed to a renaissance in Irish cuisine. In addition to the usual fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, local pubs are now serving locally sourced oysters, homegrown cheeses, and more. “If I were to describe the food we used to have, it would be meat and potatoes cooked beyond recognition,” says Copely. “But that’s all changed.” The Dub’s menu reflects this greater culinary trend and includes imported Irish cheeses, like Sheridans Cheesemonger in Galway, Scotch eggs served with various mustards, beef Wellington, Tullamore whiskey-glazed salmon, and a traditional Irish breakfast plate complete with black and white puddings that is served all day.
“There’s a sense of mockery that is frustrating when it comes to some American interpretations of Irish culture — the drunk stereotypes particularly.”
While the Dubliner’s food and drink keep patrons well-fed and tippled, it is the pub’s warm, welcoming atmosphere that has made it an honored institution. Copely’s distinctly Irish immigrant experience and the opportunities that it has afforded him informs his empathetic, even earnest, style of hospitality.
Copley arrived in the U.S. in the summer of 1990 in Long Beach before making a permanent stay in 1994. Though Copley is quick to point out that his immigrant experience was extraordinarily privileged, he also recognizes Ireland’s complicated history. A famine between 1845 and 1851 led to 1 million Irish deaths, 1 million Irish people emigrating, and Ireland losing a quarter of its population. Many attribute these events to a politically driven lack of response by the British. Though the events occurred over a century ago, their effects lingered for generations of families, including Copley’s. “It’s like my dad’s bike sitting there,” Copley says. “It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come but how long it took to get here.”
Many Irish-owned pubs maintain traditions as an act of cultural resilience; the hospitality of these spaces has endured for hundreds of years, through famine, imperialism, and beyond. “We were forced to survive and refused to be a footnote in history,” says Copely. At the Dub, every properly poured pint and shattering bite of fish and chips is a testament to the pub’s indomitable spirit.
The Auld Dubliner is located at 71 S. Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802, and is open from noon to 2 a.m. daily.2023-12-07T18:33:29Z dg43tfdfdgfd