Pubspy - Castlebellingham | 

McBrides pub in Castlebellingham hits the ‘D’ spot with creamy pints at just €5

The letter ‘D’ was missing from the nameplate ‘McBrides’ over the door and the paintwork suggests it has been stripped back and ready for a shiny new coat.

McBrides in Castlebellingham is undergoing an exterior makeover and a letter 'D' for its name

PubspySunday World

McBrides – Castlebellingham, Co. Louth

THE Old Commando was itching to visit the North this past week in the hope of clapping eyes on US President Joe Biden.

Ever since the days of JFK he has had a fascination with US Presidents, especially the ones with Irish heritage.

“A good Mayo man is Joe Biden. Maybe his visit to Ireland in 2023 will be overshadowed if Mayo goes on to lift Sam Maguire. He could be the man to break the curse,” the Old Commando joked.

Unfortunately for him, Castlebellingham was as close as he would get to the border as we headed for McBrides pub, a place we paid a quick visit to almost five years ago. We enjoyed our brief time there on that occasion and said we would like to call back for a more detailed inspection.

After a one-hour journey from HQ we finally arrived at McBrides and it appears the exterior may be undergoing a facelift — at least we hope it is, given the condition it was in when we arrived.

The letter ‘D’ was missing from the nameplate ‘McBrides’ over the door and the paintwork suggests it has been stripped back and ready for a shiny new coat. Well, that’s what it looked like to us. Maybe we visited a week or two early!

Inside the front bar it was business as usual with McBrides doing a roaring trade especially in the second and third section of the pub where there was a younger clientele living it up and partying hard.

Needless to say, the Old Commando was happy enough to sit in the front bar where the clientele seated at the bar were closer to his age, and most of them were stout drinkers too.

“We’ll be grand here. Every barman knows to not to desert this area. The hardcore regular Guinness drinkers will need to be fed regularly,” the Old Commando joked.

We perched under the TV as the storytellers told their yarns and we enjoyed the atmosphere and banter among the locals. There were two younger men hogging the poker machines while the colourful looking bench seating was in decent condition and the tiled floor, while very old, was swept clean.

The barman was working alone and it was a much younger gentleman than on our previous visit.

He served us promptly (as the Old Commando had predicted) but he was very busy throughout our stay and hadn’t any time for a chat.

The creamy pints of stout were going down a treat and, priced at €5 each, they’re actually considered cheap and reasonable in this day in age. They also had Tuborg and Coors as well as the usual favourites.

Our Young Commando still maintains you should always have change from a fiver when buying your pint, regardless what it is you’re drinking. But that’s just wishful thinking, we reminded him, and it’s unlikely to ever be seen again in Ireland.

The barman could have done with an extra pair of hands as it was very busy, although he was managing well.

However, a body to help out collecting glasses or stocking shelves is always nice to have about.

The Young Commando took it upon himself to check out the rest of the pub and he told us there was a pool table, a jukebox, two more gaming machines, a piano and at least five TVs in the lounge area.

Given how busy it was, we were surprised to find the toilets in such good condition. There is one cubicle, a ceramic urinal and a powerful hand dryer.

Just as the conversation at the counter turned towards Louth’s upcoming Leinster football quarter final against Westmeath, our designated driver began to tap the table with his car keys, signalling an end to our stay in McBrides pub.

We enjoyed the few pints and atmosphere and we’ll be sure to call again some day, as we can’t allow the curiosity of the exterior to get the better of us.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

One for the road…

PJ Byrne – Castlebellingham, Co. Louth

IT was very busy when we called to PJ Byrne’s but the barman was very welcoming and served us immediately. There was a mixed clientele of mostly middle-aged to elderly customers and our commandos got seated beside the cosy open fire.

The bar is dimly lit throughout but the tiled floor and wine-coloured barstools were clean and in good condition. The atmosphere was lively and enjoyable, while both TVs had music channels on to provide entertainment.

One wall in the pub is dedicated to Gaelic Games, with O’Connell’s victories in 1983, ’88, ’12 and 2017 all remembered. The hallway leading to the toilets goes one step further, however, with photographs and a framed jersey from Louth’s 2010 Leinster final vs Meath. Each item is labelled ‘The Real Champions’. They’ve never gotten over that injustice!

The toilets checked out fine.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

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