Pub Spy reveals his Top 10 pubs of 2016
THE year goes by so quickly. It only feels like yesterday that Pub Spy sat down with a nice pint of stout and some bacon fries and picked his Top Ten list for 2015.
Another 12 months have passed by and another 208 pubs have been reviewed, in places like Enniscorthy, Kilcar, Skibbereen, Clifden and everywhere in between.
Pub Spy has noticed some new pubs have opened over the past 12 months, which is an encouraging sign, but there are still some publicans who are neglecting their premises and allowing them to deteriorate.
We had some memorable trips around the country and many a pint was drank, but not all our experiences were enjoyable.
The Pub Spy team vividly recalls being asked to leave a pub in The Liberties, Dublin, for their own safety by customers, after being wrongly mistaken for an undercover Garda.
That was an experience.
Before we reveal our Top 10 of 2016, in no particular order, we would like to give some honourable mentions to O’Neill’s pub in Tramore, Lowry’s in Clifden, Kerrigan’s of Mullingar and Hamrock’s of Brideswell.
Charles Fitzgerald, Sandycove
This beautiful pub in Sandycove left a memorable impression with Pub Spy and the team and we’re sure to call again sometime.
The two bar staff were very friendly and the Old Commando recalled that while the stout was pricey, luxury surroundings are sometimes worth paying that little bit extra for.
The Old Commando called for Morrissey’s pub to be advertised at Dublin airport as a ‘must see’ for all tourists entering the country.
That’s how highly we rated this lovely boozer in Abbeyleix and our opinion hasn’t changed.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: if you haven’t been to Morrissey’s pub then make it your business to do so.
The Barge Bar, Ranelagh
Maybe it was the lovely fine day, or perhaps it was the stroll down the Grand Canal, but we really loved our trip to The Barge Bar in Ranelagh last March.
The bright exterior was eye-catching and the interior is just as pleasant.
It was our first visit to the area in many years, but we’ll be sure to call again soon.
The Chambers, Mullingar
Mullingar must be the best drinking town in Ireland our Young Commando reckons, because every year a different pub from the area makes our Top 10.
The Chambers only opened in 2016 and it was easily one of Pub Spy’s favourite.
All the furnishings were brand new and in excellent condition.
Hopefully it continues the way it started.
Reddy's, Carlow Town
We stated last May that Reddy’s was one of the finest establishments in Carlow Town.
We genuinely feel it is one of the finest establishments in Ireland.
We loved our visit to this pub, which is 249 years old in 2017.
Pub Spy fondly remembers this trip to the Dolmen County and we’d certainly recommend any visitors in the area to pay a visit.
The Woodcross, Cratloe
On our summer trip to Co. Clare the Commandos fell in love with The Woodcross pub in Cratloe.
We identified this pub as a potential Top 10 candidate as far back as June 12 and we’ve maintained that opinion to this day.
We couldn’t find a single fault with the pub and it’s situated in a huge GAA heartland where both codes are celebrated.
The Old Commando may retire to the area.
The Old Commando knew this pub was special as soon as he walked in the door.
There aren’t many taverns that still sell pints of Harp on draught, but Dignam’s in Castleblayney is one of them.
However, that wasn’t our reason for selecting it in our Top 10 pubs of 2016.
We selected it simply because it is beautifully furnished and the bar staff were most welcoming.
It left an impression with Pub Spy and that’s what pubs are supposed to do.
The Shack, Athlone
“Holy God, where have they been hiding this place,” were the first words out of one of our Commandos when we stepped inside the front door of The Shack on the outskirts of Athlone Town in Co. Westmeath.
The pints of stout were priced at just €4.10 and the furnishings were simply exquisite.
The Shack easily makes our Top 10 and, quite truthfully, if we had a Top Five, it would most likely make that too.
Michael Hickey, Thurles
We weren’t really sure what to expect when we arrived in Michael Hickey’s pub in Thurles, but we were blown away by the interior.
It’s a deceptively large boozer and the atmosphere was fantastic.
The bar staff were very friendly and we kept ourselves nice and warm beside the furnace with the marble surround.
It deserves its place in the Top 10 and we’ll be sure to call again some day.
Patrick Power, Clarecastle
Five stars are the most we award to a pub and very few receive them – Patrick Power’s pub in Clarecastle was the only pub in 2016 to receive the honour.
That will tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful boozer.
The Commandos are still talking about the ‘museum’ in the hallway.