It's a long way to Tipperary, but thankfully it's only ever a leprechaun's leap to get to Wollongong's sole traditional Irish pub, the inimitable Dicey Riley's.
Established in 1893, Dicey's is more than a watering hole – it's an institution.
The venue's Bar Manager (or drinking consultant as he says), Alby Fares has been at Dicey's for the past three years and is helping to steer the pub in a new direction as an entertainment venue. “At the moment what we're trying to do is keep the old charm,” Alby says.
“Dicey's is the last, real pub in Wollongong where you can actually sit at the bar and still have a beer. So we're trying to keep it going, keep the traditional features, keep the live bands and keep it a wholesome pub that everyone enjoys.
“We've recently done a whole bunch of renovations: so we've put in a new outdoor dining deck which is great; we've done a brand-new stage which is now a permanent stage so whenever someone walks in they can see there is live music on. They're little baby-step improvements and we keep moving on.”
Though entering a new phase and adopting a fresh look, Alby says some things will never change, such as Dicey's ongoing commitment to the local live music community. “We're here to support the live music scene, it's part of what we do and part of our main goals,” he says.
“We're one of the few places that still does free, live music too, so 90 per cent of shows are free and maybe once or twice a year we have a paid show. Then a lot of the time those are for charity events anyway.
"We want people to come out and enjoy it and spend their money elsewhere, like buy the band's merch and put it back to the bands.”
That spirit extends to the wider community as well, with Dicey's being an avid supporter of local organisations and sports clubs. “We like to get out there,” Alby says.
“Our social club donates a lot of money to local charities as well in-house, and we support a lot of sporting teams. I think at the moment we have a 20/20 cricket team, a women's soccer team and a darts team that we sponsor. So we do like to help out where we can.”
With another great year of live entertainment to look forward to, the next big highlight for Dicey's is of course their traditional St Patrick's Day celebration on 17 March that features performances from The Go Set, The Bottlers (click here to read our recent interview with The Bottlers) and more.
“That's 12 months of work, every year,” Alby says about organising the event.
“It's a long day. I come in about four in the morning to set everything up. We open at eight for a traditional Irish breakfast, then from eleven it starts going off with more traditional music – we have traditional Irish performers and dancers – then we end up getting stuck into the more contemporary stuff.
“We've got The Bottlers playing, Achtung Baby, Australia's number one U2 cover band doing a double-set and we've got Handsome Young Strangers and The Go Set finishing it off again.
“Last year they pulled the roof off the place, so it's good to have them come back this year.”