Pubspy - Ashbourne Pricey €5.20 pints but Kelly's in Ashbourne crowns the Royal County
DESPITE being just half an hour drive up the road from HQ, it was years since we had set foot in Ashbourne, perhaps more than a decade. "Lovely town is Ashbourne," the Old Commando said as we crossed the border into Co Meath.
"If they could just sort out the parking, or lack of parking, problem I'd call more often," he continued.
As predicted, it took as long to find a parking spot as it did to get there but the Old Commando, clever like he is, jumped out at the traffic lights and told us to follow him on to Kelly's whenever we got sorted.
When we arrived in Kelly's Bar the Old Commando had taken refuge at the end of the counter and was nattering the ears off the friendly young barmaid on duty.
Sipping his pint of stout he told us he had paid a pricey €5.20 for the privilege but warned us against straying into the lounge any time soon.
"It's advertised at the front door of the lounge for €5.60," he shouted dramatically. "I'd say it's cheaper in Temple Bar," he joked.
We were quite surprised by the cost of the pint of Guinness but there are plenty of options available on draught including Tuborg, Birra Moretti, Coors and Rockshore.
There were four TVs hanging behind the counter with live sports on each of them. The Old Commando has always loved the Dublin/Meath GAA rivalry and he wasn't prepared to let this chance slip to have a teasing session with the locals.
"Isn't it an awful pity Meath are no good any more," he said to one local Gael beside him while asking another "how come there's no hard men playing for Meath these days?"
Thankfully the locals were all in good spirits and the banter went back and forth before we reluctantly allowed the Old Commando to rejoin us at the end of the counter.
The red velvet bench seating was nice and the red leather barstools, while old, were in good condition. The fridges were all fully stocked and the young barmaid shared a good rapport with the locals.
Our eagle-eyed Young Commando noticed this pub has its own society and will be enjoying its first outing of 2022 next weekend.
Maybe they'll have a few on the 19th hole. This pub was established in 1929 and having ridden out the Covid storm of the past two years, hopefully it gets to enjoy its centenary in seven years' time.
We passed through the adjoining bar on our way to the loos and the average age of the clientele here was slightly younger than in the front bar.
There are at least four TVs here, a dart board and also a pool table. We noticed a framed British and Irish Lions rugby jersey from the tour of South Africa in 2009, a signed Scunthorpe jersey belonging to Cliff Byrne and a Chris McCann signed Burnley jersey from their game versus Manchester United.
The one that really caught our eye, and God knows how it ended up in Ashbourne, but there is a framed Brazil jersey signed by the legendary Pele.
The toilets were clean with a ceramic urinal and two cubicles and it was most unusual to see a TV located above the two cubicles.
"It must be for showing matches when you need a bathroom break," the Old Commando suggested. We enjoyed our few pints in Kelly's pub and we'll be sure to call again.
Rating: Four pints out of Five
One for the road
The Fox's Den - Ashbourne
FIRST impressions don’t always tell the full story — that the synopsis of our visit to The Fox’s Den in Ashbourne.
The exterior of this bar needs some sprucing up but the interior was splendid and our Commandos really enjoyed their surroundings and the few pints too.
They didn’t enjoy paying for them, however, with pints of stout costing €5.40 and our designated driver was far from pleased at paying €3 for a can of mineral.
There was a mixed clientele of mostly thirtysomethings and the atmosphere was decent with live sport being shown.
The wine coloured carpet was clean and the bar stools were in exceptional condition.
Signs advising of social distancing are still prominently displayed beside the counter although no longer required and the Young Commando told us the toilets were spotlessly clean. We’ll call again some day.
Rating: Four pints out of Five
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