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Written by atherts on 04 Jun, 2004
Sean's Bar is located in old town Athlone near Athlone castle. The claim to be the oldest bar in Ireland is certainly loudly contested by other pubs, but with the evidence presented around the pub, one would be hard pressed to dispute their claims. A…Read More
Sean's Bar is located in old town Athlone near Athlone castle. The claim to be the oldest bar in Ireland is certainly loudly contested by other pubs, but with the evidence presented around the pub, one would be hard pressed to dispute their claims. A display in the bar contains clay pipes (see Knockcrockery Journal Entry) found behind wattle and wicker walls during renovations.
Our B&B hostess recommended a restaurant (which we found average), but said we must visit Sean’s Bar. It was across the parking lot and street from the restaurant. The front is typical Irish pub and has an warm inviting feel, inviting you in. The service is fast and friendly and the crowd is a mix of locals and tourists "in the know".
The bar was already crowded when we came in. It’s long and narrow with the bar running most of the length. We sat at the bar and ordered two pints and within minutes we were in conversation with one of the men sitting by us. He had been there since noon and was many pints ahead of us and had switched to Kahlua and Cream to settle his stomach (understandably). Eventually over the course of the evening he added the pint back into his prodigious alcohol consumption. He was in town on a construction contract and had little to do in the evenings but hang out in the pubs. Sean’s Bar was his favorite in Athlone. We chatted about Ireland, America and a little of everything else as the Guinness flowed.
Later in the evening a young man showed up with a guitar and started doing traditional and Celtic/Irish pop tunes. Being a Waterboys fan and wearing a t-shirt from their last US tour, I requested Fisherman’s Blues, one of their most popular songs. He knew it and evidently most of the crowd did too. A sing along ensued for all subsequent songs, Waterboys or other.
After five hours, 8-10 pints, and innumerable trips to the bathroom (very clean but rustic with interesting prints), we decided to call it a night. Irish pubs usually close around 11pm (so they say) but it was easily 1am or later. I can’t attest to the exact time as my eyes didn’t seem to be focusing correctly and the ground had a significant uphill slope no matter which direction I faced.
Fortunately, my wife had shown greater restraint and was well able to drive except that she had forgotten her glasses. With the blind leading the blind we lurched off into the dark and rainy night and after a few misadventures with directions, managed to locate the B&B and headed for bed.The next morning we were not sure whether to throw our clothes out the window or burn them. The bar was smokier than I remembered and the smell of stale cigarette smoke was almost unbearable. We stuffed them all into a large plastic bag and then tied it shut and then put it inside another plastic bag. That made them bearable until we got to a laundry. We dropped off all the clothes and made arrangements to pick them up later in the day while we headed for Clonmacnoise.
All in all we both agreed that this was our best pub experience with the craic, Guinness, and music all coming together with the friendly service and company to form the perfect and memorable Irish experience. If you want to experience the best in Irish pub life, sit at the bar.