The George, Dublin
|Town or city||Dublin|
Opened in 1985, The George began as a gay-owned venture, eight years before homosexuality was legalised in Ireland. It was subsequently purchased by the group of bars and clubs owned by the Capital Bars Group and today it is owned by the Mercantile Entertainment Group who own several venues around the city including the popular music venue, Whelans. It is Ireland's oldest and biggest gay bar and is regarded as the best known gay bar in the city. South Great George's Street has historically been a popular location for gay men in Dublin.
For many years it was the only large gay venue in the city, however the improved economy and liberalisation of Irish attitudes to homosexuality in the 1990s resulted in a diversification of the Dublin gay scene. This somewhat reduced the club's prominence, although it is still a central fixture of gay nightlife in the city. It retains an iconic status in spite of competition from newer gay venues, such as the Pantibar on Capel Street and formerly The Dragon, also on South Great Georges Street and The Front Lounge on Parliament Street, with both closing as gay venues since 2015.
The original and smallest part of The George, referred to as 'Bridie's Bar', is a quiet bar frequented by an older crowd. Next door, the club venue extends over two floors and regularly stages popular Drag shows as well as personal appearances by Irish and international acts. It is also home to some of Ireland's best-known drag queens such as Shirley Temple Bar, Veda Beaux Reves, Davina Devine and Dolly Grip as well as a host of other Drag acts. The venue boasts a Drag act 'almost' every night apart from Fridays when the crowd are entertained by gogo-style dancers.
In June 2008, on the evening of the Dublin's LGBTQ Pride festival, a hoax caller said he planted a bomb at the venue. The Gardaí evacuated the venue at 11pm until the all clear was given 90 minutes later. The festivities then resumed to normal.
History of The George
Originally an ‘old man’s bar’ on the corner of George’s Street, The George was purchased by Cyril O’Brien who loved the atmosphere of the bar but wasn’t quite so sure about the décor and thought the place could do with a revamp. Back then The George was the corner bar downstairs, now known as 'Bridie's Bar', which remained a straight bar while the bar upstairs was transformed into a gay disco bar called ‘The Loft’. ‘The Loft’ was decorated with Tivoli lighting, which one customer remarked “Must be what the inside of a hairdresser’s brain looks like!” Eventually, The George became a dedicated gay bar.
It was only the second bar in the city to be owned by a gay proprietor and to be opened specifically as a gay bar; the other was ‘The Viking’ on Dame Street. The George provided a safe space where gay people could socialise with their friends without fear and prejudice. Through the years the bar continued to grow in popularity and post decriminalisation in 1993 there was an explosion of numbers onto the gay scene and for the first time The George expanded. In 1998 The George extended again into the building next door, which had originally been an Indian restaurant.
- "UVF had no need of British collusion for Dublin and Monaghan atrocities". Sunday Independent. Retrieved on 8 April 2007. "The Garda report found that the man was a 'homosexualist' and was in Dublin because he liked to frequent establishments in South Great George's Street popular with gay men at the time".
- O'Keeffe, Alan (23 June 2008). "Pub bomb scare mars city's huge Gay Pride festivities". Dublin: Evening Herald. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
- http://www.thegeorge.ie website
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