pubspy - birr, Co. Offaly | 

An Offaly good way to spend the day in Pilkington's bar in Birr

The pints of stout cost €4.70 and were well received by our troops.
Pilkington's Bar in Birr, Co. Offaly

Pilkington's Bar in Birr, Co. Offaly


Pilkington’s Bar - Birr, Co. Offaly

WHILE Pub Spy’s views on NPHET and the Irish Government are well known, we decided to use their latest band of crazy restrictions to our advantage.

In normal circumstances our crew wouldn’t set foot in a pub before 6pm at the earliest, but with the new closing time of 8pm now in force we’d be wasting our time going in that late.

This past week Pub Spy rounded up the Commandos for a trip to the Faithful County and there was no shortage of volunteers when we decided to leave HQ just after 1pm.

“Oh Jaysus we’ll have a skinful,” the Old Commando said with a large grin on his face. “Where are we heading?” he enquired.

“Birr,” our designated driver responded. “A good lively town with plenty of boozers.”

“Birr?” the Old Commando replied. “I know just the spot and I’ve wanted to visit it for years and years. In fact, I can’t believe we’ve never to this pub in all my time on the road,” he added.

He kept us in suspense as we travelled the M4 and N52 to Birr but as approached Emmett Square he eventually broke his silence.

“I’ve been dying to visit Johnny Pilkington’s pub for as long as I can remember, so that’s where we’re heading. Hope to God he’s there now,” the Old Commando said. He has long held a grá for Offaly’s hurling heroes of the ’80s and ’90s and Johnny Pilkington is one of the names most synonymous with that era.

“Was he the best of that bunch?” the Young Commando queried.

“I don’t know about the best player, but I’ll tell you one thing for nothing, he was definitely the best character in a team full of characters,” the old Commando replied.

With our Pub-mobile parked safely we all arrived to Pilkington’s pub and given the time of day we were expecting it to be relatively quiet. It was far from it!

We took our seats across from the counter and the Young Commando placed our order with a young barmaid on duty, who we think was named Kate. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the great Johnny but it didn’t stop the Old Commando from making some enquiries.

“Haven’t seen him today,” one local wearing a red baseball cap said. “But he mightn’t be up yet. Give him another few hours,” he laughed.

There was a mixed clientele in the pub, all predominately in their early twenties we guessed, although there was a sprinkle of seasoned campaigners near the counter just inside the front door.

The pints of stout cost €4.70 and were well received by our troops. There is a TV in the corner at the end of the counter that was playing Christmas songs but the young folk that were drinking here were making their own atmosphere and not relying on the TV.

The red velvet barstools were in good condition and the tiled floor was swept clean. There was plenty of hurling and rugby talk from the elderly crew in the front bar but we couldn’t locate any Offaly or Birr GAA photos. We were expecting the walls to be full of pictures from the glory days of both club and county. The Young Commando did notice a photo of Clara native Shane Lowry though, celebrating with his ‘Clara jug’ in 2019.

Most of the younger men where stationed in the third section of the pub playing pool, and there is also a dart board and a gaming machine. The toilets were spacious and clean with one cubicle, four urinals and two sinks.

We ordered a couple more rounds as the Old Commando held out hope that Johnny Pilkington might appear but alas, he did not.

“Well, you know what that means fellas,” the Old Commando said. “We’ll just have to call again some day!”

Rating: Three pints out of Five

One for the road

Nolan’s, Birr

WE couldn’t stay long in Nolan’s bar because quite simply there wasn’t enough space for us. It was exceptionally busy when we dropped by for a pint recently with the front bar in particular overflowing with a young male clientele.

A barmaid with glasses was on duty and was ably assisted by a young apprentice wearing a shirt and Christmas tie. There was a mixed clientele in the remaining sections of the pub and most of them were young, the early twenties age bracket, we guessed.

An Offaly GAA clock hangs in the pub but the two hands have been removed so time has stood still (in 2019 by the looks of things). The atmosphere was phenomenal and certainly the best we’ve encountered since returning to the road in late August.

The long narrow toilets contained four urinals and one cubicle and were clean at the time we called.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

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