OUR Old Commando was thrilled to learn we were taking the long trek to south west of the country last week.
It doesn’t matter to him what part of Kerry we visit, he loves every square inch of it.
While he loves nothing better than to see his beloved Dubs conquer the Kingdom, he still loves to visit two or three times a year and discuss football over a few pints.
“There a good aul’ crowd, the Kerry lads. Always up for a good sneer – but they take their football serious too,” the Old Commando said as we came to the end of our three-hour journey from HQ.
“Maybe they’ll have Sam Maguire in the pub,” the Young Commando said enthusiastically.
“Might be your best chance to see it up close for a long time,” he continued jokingly.
Our designated driver found a parking space near Tom McCarthy’s pub, otherwise known as The Central Bar, and the Old Commando said: “This place looks as good as any, let’s go.”
It was reasonably busy when we arrived, with an all-male clientele and the only thing missing was a member of the bar staff.
Along with two other people, we stood waiting for a few minutes before a barmaid eventually emerged from the back room.
She took all our orders immediately and the rest of the commandos sat at the circular round table underneath the TV as they awaited their pints of stout.
“We’re all on the Guinness this week, I see,” the Old Commando said. “That aul’ Heineken is gone too expensive, isn’t it?” he cheekily said to the Young Commando.
We noticed they had plenty of options available on draught, including the Old Commando’s one-time favourite, Harp, as well as Hop House 13 and Birra Moretti.
Our Young Commando suggested we may see less and less Birra Moretti taps in the coming months, following the huge price hike enforced on publicans recently.
Guinness Zero is also available but the Old Commando has never tasted it and has vowed never to commit such an offence.
At €4.70, the price for the creamy pint of plain was reasonable enough by today’s standards and it didn’t take long for our troops to feel comfortable in their surroundings.
As sure as water is wet, the conversation by the gentlemen at the counter was all about Sam Maguire and what awaits Kerry footballers for 2023.
The general consensus was as long as David Clifford is breathing they’ve a right good chance of two in a row – and maybe even more.
“He’s the nearest thing to Maurice Fitzgerald or the great Matt Connor of Offaly,” one local said.
“He’s top class for sure, but there was only one Matt,” the Old Commando replied jokingly.
The timber barstools were all in good condition and the orange floor tiles were spotlessly clean.
The shelves were all well stocked, the stone walls were a lovely feature and there are coat hangers all along the counter.
We counted at least three TVs plus an extra TV for the betting odds and the smoking area also featured two more TVs, a dart board and a pool table.
The Old Commando said that’s the right place for them – out of the way!
Although we struggled to understand the accents and much of the conversations that were spoken at frantic pace, we enjoyed company of Castleisland’s locals.
There was plenty of characters, lots of laughs and a flurry of good porter – everything we need to keep us happy.
We rarely have anything other than a good time in the Kingdom and this venture was no different. We’re already looking forward to our next outing.
Rating: Five pints out of Five
One for the road…
Kearney’s – Castleisland, Co. Kerry
DESPITE our best efforts as always, it was next to impossible to go unnoticed in this busy boozer in Castleisland.
From the moment we stepped inside the front door we stuck out like a sore thumb, as everybody here was on a first-name basis and the two barmaids on duty had the place running smoothly.
It was very busy but everybody, especially the two ladies behind the counter, were in jovial form and we really enjoyed the atmosphere as we attempted to casually blend in at the end of the bar.
There was no TV turned on and there was no need for one either – people were having too much fun without it.
The spacious front bar had dark-coloured bench seating and the floor tiles were nice, while we observed there is a bottle of hand sanitizer on each table. The toilets were quite small but they were clean and there is a small smoking area located beside the gents.
Rating: Three pints out of Five