Pubspy - Carlow | 

This Carlow boozer keeps the fires Racey Byrning during lockdown

Busy pub reminds us of the good old normality with excellent pints at just €4.80

Racey Byrnes Pub in Carlow


Racey Byrne's - Carlow Town

IT'S hard to believe, but Pub Spy and the team hadn't been to County Carlow since the summer of 2019. Where have the last two years gone?

It was August 2019, to be precise, and the world was a much safer and happier place back then, but the Pub Spy crew are trying to stay optimistic and are also trying to convince ourselves that we're heading for an endemic in 2022.

While none of us graduated from Trinity College Dublin with any medical degrees, you only need to look at where we are today as a country compared to this time last year.

"That first four months of 2021 was the worst ever. I couldn't face a lockdown like that ever again," the Young Commando said.

"Lockdowns are finished," the Old Commando replied. "There might be some restrictions in 2022 but they will ease off a lot quicker this year than they did last year," he added.

While the 8pm curfew for pubs looks set to continue for the month of January and potentially a few weeks in February, at least the pubs are open.

There were times last year we thought we'd never get a pint.

It was off to the Dolmen County for our latest outing and a short one hour trip down the M9 to Carlow Town.

Our designated driver parked the pubmobile safely on Staplestown road and we walked back towards the busy Tullow Street where we came across Racey Byrne's pub.

As we stepped inside this pub it appeared the pandemic was, in fact, over and the endemic was in full flow. It was extremely busy with a mixed clientele ranging from middle aged to elderly and there were no vacant stools left at the counter.

We passed through the bar and eventually found available seating near the jukebox, which thankfully was switched off during our visit. There was a very good atmosphere and the locals seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

Despite it being extremely busy, there was only one member of staff on duty. She was very friendly but there was no time for chit chatting as she was simply run off her feet and never got a moment to stand around.

A poker machine and what appeared to be a virtual horse racing machine are located at the counter and there were two elderly punters sitting using each of them.

The tiled flooring needed a sweeping but we didn't expect the barmaid had time to even think about that.

The pints of stout came across the countertop costing €4.80 but when it came to ordering round two, the Old Commando opted for a pint of Heineken. "It seems to be popular so there'll be a good flow on the tap," he told us.

There is a food hatch at the rear of the pub where they serve hot food but it was closed during our stay. A separate room off the main bar contained a pool table and dart board (one of at least three in the pub) and the Old Commando enjoyed reading through the poster from the 1973 football and hurling All-Star awards.

"Some of the all time greats are pictured there," he stated.

The Young Commando spotted a photo of the 2003 Laois senior football team that captured the Leinster championship under the great Mick O'Dwyer and remarked that was sure to irk some of the local gaels here in Carlow.

"Well it's only a 1km walk to get to Laois from here and crossing the border for drink has never been as popular as it is now," the Old Commando joked.

We enjoyed our few pints in Racey Byrne's and it was nice to witness some form of the old normality.

Rating: Three pints out of Five

One for the road

Reddy’s – Carlow Town

THERE were very strict protocols in place when we called to Reddy’s bar in Carlow town recently.

You may only enter the premises via the car park entrance and you won’t get but a few feet inside the door without providing all the essential IDs, phone numbers and paperwork.

Counter service is off limits but luckily they have excellent bar staff and waitresses on duty so you won’t be left waiting for drinks.

The front bar wasn’t overly busy but in general there was a good crowd in the pub, although most of the clientele were dining.

There are two TVs in the front bar, the red coloured carpet was in good condition and the tiled floor was immaculate.

Just as we expected, the toilets were exceptionally clean.

Rating: Four pints out of Five

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