pubspy - Ballybofey | 

McKelvey’s pub in Ballybofey was well worth the trip with the cheapest of pints at €4.40

Our Commandos were glad we hadn’t travelled all this way for no reason and that we could finally enjoy a few pints of the black stuff. Costing just €4.40

PubspySunday World

McKelvey’s bar Ballybofey, Donegal

THE Old Commando was very sentimental on the journey to Ballybofey recently, home of Seán McCumhaill Park, as he lamented the loss of the great Michael Murphy to Gaelic games.

“Hard to argue against him being the greatest Donegal player of all time,” he said.

“I can still remember the first time I saw him playing. It was for his school in the All-Ireland ‘B’ final in April 2007 up in Breffni Park in Cavan.

You just knew he was a star in the making and he scored eight points,” the Old Commando reminisced. “They lost in extra time to an Edenderry side with future Offaly star Anton Sullivan and the Cribben brothers from Kildare on it.

A mighty game of football it was,” he informed us all.

We arrived in Ballybofey before darkness descended but we had a futile attempt at finding a pub that was willing to serve us pints of Guinness, simply because they were all closed!

Having searched the main street from the top of the town right down to the River Finn we were still without a watering hole, apart from the local hotel, but we’d prefer the real pub experience and were determined to find somewhere, having travelled three hours to get here.

The Young Commando separated from the group and said he would check out Glenfin Street and report back to us.

A few moments later a photograph of a pint of Guinness arrived into the Pub Spy WhatsApp group and a message from the Young Commando telling us to get to McKelvey’s bar straight away.

Our Commandos were glad we hadn’t travelled all this way for no reason and that we could finally enjoy a few pints of the black stuff. Costing just €4.40, the Old Commando was thrilled with the stout and he praised the young barman who was sporting a GAA club jacket.

“Nothing wrong with that price that’s for sure,” the Old Commando said. There was an all male clientele in the bar and needless to say, they had all huddled in for the evening to watch the World Cup.

The four games a day schedule was fantastic for the first two weeks!

We were surprised to hear some English accents from folks sitting at the counter but no doubt they fancy their chances of progressing further in this competition.

We loved the stone-cut fireplace and it looks as though a frame and door have been fixed to the open fire surround rather than the installation of a solid fuel stove.

The timber flooring was very clean and the dark blue leather barstools were in good condition.

Tennent’s, Coors, Carling and both Rockshores are available on draught but we didn’t notice any Heineken taps, unless of course the Old Commando needs thicker frames in his glasses.

“I wonder did they ever have them or is it something to do with that huge price hike they introduced,” the Old Commando said.

The Christmas tree was in the corner and Pub Spy has always loved this time of year in Irish pubs; the atmosphere is enhanced with people in the festive spirit.

There’s a piano under the large screen TV but nobody dared play a note while the football was on.

The Young Commando was dispatched to inspect the toilets and he reported back that they were basic and clean with a stainless steel urinal, one cubicle and a paper towel dispenser.

McKelvey’s pub isn’t the easiest to find for non locals but luckily for us, we did track it down.

The pints were good and fairly priced, the barman was very friendly and the locals were in good spirits.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

One for the road…

Biddy O’Barnes Barnesmore, Donegal

ONLY for the signpost advertising Biddy’s bar we’d have never known it exists as it is off the N15 in an underlying valley.

Located in picturesque scenery overlooking a flowing river we found ourselves imagining what it would be like to sit outside this boozer on a summer evening with a pint of plain following a Donegal victory in Ballybofey.

There was a young barmaid on duty when we called and we managed to get seated at the three legged table beside the warm open fire. It was very cosy and we got very comfortable, too comfortable perhaps, very quickly.

Kilkenny and Harp are among the drinks available on draught and they were advertising food.

We did notice a plaque beside the counter highlighting an award as Traditional Gastro-pub Of The Year 2022 for the Ulster region.

The toilets were freshly cleaned and faultless, and a spacious car park is provided.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

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