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Pubspy - Portlaoise Cheap, cheerful and with plenty of characters in Ryan's of Portlaoise

The craic was 80 (at least) with old regulars

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Top marks for Ryan's of Portlaoise

Top marks for Ryan's of Portlaoise

Top marks for Ryan's of Portlaoise

Ryan's - Portlaoise, Co. Laois

PUB Spy decided after last week's trip to Tallaght, where the Old Commando sipped pints of Guinness for just €4.50, that we were going to set ourselves a challenge to find the Republic's cheapest pint of stout.

While it's much more likely to be found in the west of the country, we plan to visit all 26 counties and see who is offering the best and cheapest gargle.

Our latest adventure took us to Portlaoise and, more specifically, Ryan's pub on Main Street. None of our travelling party could recall being here before and it's always nice to check out somewhere new, so we were really looking forward to our visit.

It was quite lively from the moment we reached the front door and there was a bit of a gathering outside where punters were having a smoke.

"For all his failings, and Lord knows he has plenty, it's the one thing I'll always be grateful to Micheál Martin for - the smoking ban. The best thing that was ever introduced," the Old Commando stated, as we passed through the front porch of 'Ryan's' bar.

The front bar was very busy and there was one table in particular that was providing the best atmosphere, with a mix of live entertainment. A group of men, most likely all well into their 80s, were encouraging one of their companions to sing songs, and he duly obliged for the duration of our stay anyway.

We were so content sitting in our seats just listening to the men having some great banter and singing a few songs. It's moments like this that really bring it home what the local pub means to so many but especially men and women of this age who were denied the right to see each other over the last eighteen months.

A young barmaid was on duty and with all the formalities out of the way she poured us our pints of plain. The Old Commando was surprised but happy to declare that this boozer is currently at the top of the leader board for cheapest stout we've tasted since returning to work in late August.

We paid €4.40 for the Guinness and it went down a treat and a little too easily. There was a mixed clientele of all ages throughout the pub and some younger folk playing pool near the rear of the pub. There are at least three TVs, a jukebox, a gaming machine and a dart board provided for entertainment and Rockshore and Carling are available on draught alongside the regulars.

The atmosphere got better and better the longer we stayed and it's hard to believe it was created by four or five elderly gentlemen in the front bar.

"There's no need for this pub to hire any singer or band, sure these lads are great craic," the Old Commando joked.

Just inside the front door we noticed two framed photos of the Laois senior football and hurling teams of the millennium. For most of us on this trip the names went over our heads, but the Old Commando studied it intensely and recognised some of the greats of the game such as Bill Delaney and the boy wonder himself, Tommy Murphy.

The toilets are restricted to just two people at a time with just one cubicle and a small stainless steel urinal available but they were in good condition during our inspection.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our time in 'Ryan's' bar and good value Guinness aside, it was the customers who made it special.

Good local characters always help make pubs a fun place to be, let's hope we never lose the right to visit them again.

Rating: Four pints out of five

One for the road

Hume – Portlaoise

AN elderly man named Peter who was sitting across from the counter kept the Old Commando talking for so long, we thought we were going to have to leave without him. Everything from Manchester City, the local boozers and family was discussed.

A busy barman who kept to himself, served the pints of stout (€4.70)

There was a decent atmosphere and, surprisingly enough, there was actually more female customers than male. The red velvet barstools and bench seating were in good condition and there is a framed AFL shirt belonging to local legend Zach Touhy.

There are least four TVs in the front bar, and we noticed a large projection screen towards the rear of the pub. The toilets were compact and clean during our stay.

Rating: Three pints out of five

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