Food & DrinkPub Spy

Boozer leaves you with that lovin’ Phelan

Phelans of Bagenalstown
Phelans of Bagenalstown

Phelan’s, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

THE pub-mobile has travelled the length and breadth of Ireland over the past 42 years, and for much (or nearly all) of that time the Old Commando has been an ever-present.

His mind is as sharp as ever and when it was put to him about past journeys to Bagenalstown he was adamant that our last proper visit here was 11 years ago in 2004.

“We stopped off there a few years back for a flying visit, but the last proper trip we had to Bagenalstown was around 2004 and, if I’m not mistaken, that may have been our first visit to it,” he said as we departed from HQ.

Our designated driver got us to south Carlow in just over two-and-a-half hours and we got our wagon securely parked outside the local chip shop. We said we’d check that out after we’d sampled the local porter. Phelan’s pub was located right behind us and we decided to pop in and see what it had to offer.

This pub was established 161 years ago and  it appears to have undergone plenty of renovation since.

We were greeted by a friendly barmaid who we think was named Marie. She served us immediately and welcomed us all to the bar.

It wasn’t overly busy during our stay, but the barmaid was constantly on the move as we think they were gearing up for a big party later that night.

The Young Commando had spotted the DJ decks set up in the corner under the projection screen, so he was eager to stay all night.

The pints of plain were €4.20, while the Young Commando paid €4.40 for his pint of Heineken. The bar was well stocked and the blue lighting on the shelving was a nice feature. There are four different sections in this bar and also a snug area located just inside the front door. We sat at the main bar on the red and yellow barstools and engaged some of the locals in conversation.

As time ticked on it did get busier and the atmosphere certainly increased. One of our troops noticed that one section, which is very private, was named ‘Dr Phil’s Office’ and it contained some seating and a couch.

“I think we should send you in there young man. Maybe he’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong with you,” the Old Commando said, jeering his young colleague.

There are two TVs and a jukebox located in the bar, but the jukebox was switched off and we presumed this was due to the live music that was about to kick off.

We gave the toilets a thorough inspection and they were very clean. There are two cubicles and three urinals and the skylight was also clean, which is very rare these days.

“I wonder how clean they’ll be in three or four hours,” the Young Commando sniggered, but the Old Commando told him we wouldn’t have to worry about that as were heading back to Dublin.

The smoking area is quite big and there is a TV, a gaming machine, a dartboard and a CD player all located there. The Old Commando said that’s the right place for all that “noise”.

He was disappointed that there are no sporting photos hanging in the bar as he always takes a glance around pubs checking them out, but, other than that, he and the troops were happy.

“There’s not even a photo of Richie Kavanagh for God’s sake. I thought he’d be a legend around these parts,” the Young Commando laughed as we made our way back to the pub-mobile and back to HQ.

**** Four-pint rating