pubspy - donegal town | 

O'Donnell's bar is a diamond boozer worth the long trip to Donegal Town

O’Donnell’s a throwback for us to 2013 visit


WHO doesn’t enjoy a nice six hour round trip from Dublin city centre to Donegal town?

Our team of crack Commandos for starters, but as the Old Commando reminded us,

Donegal may be a long way from HQ but the friendly locals always make you feel welcome.

March 2020 was the last time we set foot in this county, just before a certain outbreak of a certain disease that we’ve decided not to mention or talk about anymore, landed in our country. Thankfully we’ve moved on from those dark days, we’re back in the swing of things and sipping porter in the four corners of the island.

The Old Commando said we were overdue a visit to Donegal town so that’s where our designated driver set the sat nav for and he woke us some hours later as we arrived at The Diamond area of the town.

O’Donnell’s pub was our port of call and we traipsed into the front bar and sat at the end of the counter, placing our order with the blonde barmaid on duty.

She seemed experienced and took our order without delay but had moved on to the opposite end of the counter before the Old Commando was able to start his usual conversation, prying for info.

The pints of stout were priced at €4.70, which is about the going rate in towns these days, and they also have Rockshore and Coors on draught along with the usual.

There was a decent atmosphere in the front bar where the vast majority of the clientele were male and there was definitely a strong presence of horse racing enthusiasts as they watched the nags on three different TVs.

The green velvet barstools were nice and comfy but there is a limited amount of bench seating to accommodate crowds and it’s probably one of the reasons there were more women in the lounge rather than the bar.

The Old Commando informed us that he actually visited O’Donnell’s pub back in January 2013 but that something was telling him it wasn’t always O’Donnell’s name over the door.

“I’m fairly sure this was McGroarty’s pub many moons ago” he said to us as we sipped our pints of Guinness.

“Indeed it was,” one local who overheard replied. “But it’s at least 11 or 12 year ago now since it changed hands. That was the name for nearly 40 years,” he added.

As you’d expect, there are plenty of GAA related photos on the wall across from the counter with special memories from the two Donegal All-Ireland victories in 1992 and 2012. There are also photos of the Donegal team that won the Ulster championship in 1990 and the Four Masters side that won the senior football championship in 1984.

“I wonder will they be putting up another photo at the end of this year’s championship?” the Old Commando wondered. “The race for Sam is wide open,” he added.

“We’ll worry about beating Armagh on Sunday first and foremost,” one of the bar flies replied.

The Young Commando passed through the lounge on his way to the toilets and he told us it was spacious and tidy with a lovely open fire burning away and a further two TVs.

The toilets themselves were spotlessly clean with three urinals and two cubicles. Everything was above board.

We drank a few rounds and decided it was time to hit the road. With a tedious three hour journey ahead of us, we all availed of a trip to the little boy’s room and headed for the pub-mobile.

We enjoyed our time in O’Donnell’s pub and we hope it won’t be another two years before we return.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

One for the road

Sonny McSwine’s - Donegal Town

Brilliant, fantastic, top drawer, as good as it gets — these were just some of the comments the Young Commando used about Sonny McSwine’s pub in Donegal town.

It was extremely busy when Pub Spy and the crew stopped off for a few pints and we’d have stayed even longer if there was any seating available. There was a terrific atmosphere among the mixed clientele which ranged from mid 20s to mid 40s or so and we even spotted a hen party or two.

The solid fuel stove just inside the front door kept the place nice and cosy and there was a TV on either side of the counter. The green leather barstools were in good condition and the bar was well stocked.

The toilets were immaculate with five urinals and one cubicle and we unanimously agreed this is among the best spots we’ve been to so far in 2022.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

Today's Headlines

More Food

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos