Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Or, Happy St Patrick's Day and a big cheers to all things Irish today. For some Irish inspiration on the other side of the world, our lovely author of THE HOUSE OF SECOND CHANCES, Esther Campion has shared a few great Irish Pub recommendations where you can stop in for a drop if you ever find yourself over there.
The Long Valley
Coming over a little emotional as I look through images of The Long Valley in Winthrop Street in the heart of Cork City where I’m from. A trip home always includes a catch up with a friend or two there, preferably over a pint and one of their legendary doorstep sandwiches. I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday there when my husband to be, although I didn’t know that at the time, ordered a pina colada, my favourite drink. Humphrey the old barman, God rest him, clad in his customary white butcher’s overall, proceeded to concoct the beverage rarely consumed on the premises, presenting it in a half pint glass complete with paper umbrella.
Sean’s Bar, Athlone is reputed to be the oldest pub in Europe! This is a great wee place in the town centre close to the castle from where you can get a bird’s eye view of the mighty River Shannon as it wends its way through the Midlands. I have cousins in Athlone, and one of them who was a great help with my research around Australian visas for The House of Second Chances, took me to Sean’s the last time I was home. When I came out, I took a look in the window of the bookshop next door. There was a signed copy of Maeve Binchy’s The Glass Lake. Being hurried along, I wasn’t allowed go in, but when by absolute coincidence, some eighteen months later, a friend from Tasmania was home in Ireland and called in to Sean’s Bar for a breather, wasn’t my cousin perched on a bar stool? They started chatting and with something akin to the six degrees of separation, my name came up. With the help of Watsapp, I confirmed my friend’s identity to the cousin and asked if he’d mind nipping in next door to see if the book was still there. As luck would have it, it was and to make a long story short, the Irish Tasmanian delivered it to my door soon after.
O’ Sullivan’s Bar
O’ Sullivan’s Bar, Crookhaven has to be on the list. It’s the hub of the village where I set some of my stories and is always heaving in the summer months when I’ve been there. I love the way the clientele spills out between the pub and the harbour wall and the warm glow of the lights even if you’re freezing your behind off outside. I fancy a trip down to West Cork in winter and sitting inside with a nice hot port and a good book.
Durty Nelly’s is a rambling pub beside Bunratty Castle. It is a real touristy place but one I absolutely love as it retains its authentic atmosphere, providing visitors with a proper Irish pub experience, not to mention a chance to chat to locals which is always a good sign. The staff are very obliging. The food is fantastic, and you don’t feel you’re among the throng when you’re sitting in one of the nooks, the low ceilings and exposed beams giving an unexpected sense of privacy. Best Caesar Salad ever! It’s a place that has endured through generations and I hope my children might one day take their kids there and raise a glass to us.
Tig Coili in Galway is a great place for traditional music. No one is paid to play and a table at the front is reserved for the all-day/night session which anyone with an instrument can join. It is pure entertainment. I met the nicest couple there who bought us a drink and gave us their bar stools when they were leaving. From there we went on to the Roisin Dubh where we had a dance upstairs but that’s another pub for another day.