Our nosey Young Commando remembered the pints were just €3.20 during our last visit here in 2003.
The Old Commando has a tendency to get whatever he wants and, given his longevity in the pub game, none of our Commandos are ever too keen to take him on.
This week he was insistent that we pay a visit to Co Tipperary, and Roscrea was the town he seemed determined to drink in. As usual, we had our suspicions of his motives but we rowed in behind him and instructed our designated driver to head south on the M7.
“We haven’t been to Tipperary since October 2021,” the Old Commando said when we quizzed him as to why he was so keen to visit the Premier county. “We’re due a trip here, that’s all,” he said.
We still felt he had an ulterior motive and as soon as we arrived in Roscrea we started to get the feeling it was something GAA related.
“God, there’s a lot of red and white flags on display aren’t there?” the Young Commando said as our designated driver searched for a parking spot.
It seems our timing to visit Roscrea couldn’t have been any better as their hurlers had just won the Tipperary Intermediate county final and the pubs were enjoying a roaring trade.
We decided to visit Phelan’s Market House and just inside the front door our eagle-eyed Young Commando spotted a framed copy of a visit Pub Spy made to this boozer almost 20 years ago.
“January 2003,” the Young Commando told us. “I was still in school when you were last here,” he said, pointing to the Old Commando.
Pub Spy always likes to revisit pubs to ensure standards are being maintained, although we’d prefer to do it more than once every 20 years!
The Old Commando queued at the counter for our pints while the rest of our travelling party huddled near the front door, enjoying the lively atmosphere among a very happy group of locals celebrating the Roscrea victory.
A young barman with a beard served him promptly and the Old Commando told us he paid €4.80 for the creamy pints of stout, while our nosey Young Commando told him they were just €3.20 during the last visit in 2003.
“Imagine if pints were still only €3.20, you’d be drunk on €25 any night you go out,” the Young Commando joked.
There was a mixed clientele of all ages in the pub and a very good atmosphere. Harp, Rockshore and Coors are all available on draught and the shelves were all well stocked.
There are at least two TVs, plus a TV with betting odds, and a projection screen, and no doubt the hurling final will have been replayed over and over in the last few days.
The red velvet barstools and bench seating are in good condition and plentiful, and there is a framed Tipperary jersey from the 2016 All-Ireland final hanging proudly on the wall, as well as a photo of the 1979 Roscrea senior hurling team that captured the county title.
There is also a commemorative plaque to the 1971 Roscrea hurlers who became the first club team in Ireland to win the All-Ireland club championship.
We had a great time in Phelan’s and really savoured the atmosphere.
The Old Commando in particular loved his time here and when one local mentioned that they had beaten Gortnahoe in the final the Old Commando remembered an amusing story from that area.
“We visited Gortnahoe about ten years ago and went into the local pub. The afters of a wedding was on and didn’t the local priest serve one of the boys with us his drink. It was a great laugh,” he told us, although we’d say the atmosphere there this past week was a bit more sombre.
We had a great time in Phelan’s and promise it won’t be another 20 years before we’re back.
Our designated driver began to round up the troops and most of our Commandos were a little worse for wear at this stage and it took a good half hour to filter us all back out to the pub-mobile. We had a great time in Phelan’s and promise it won’t be another 20 years before we’re back again.
Rating: Four pints out of Five
One for the road…
John Carroll’s - Roscrea, Co Tipperary
We got a warm welcome from the bearded barman on duty when we arrived in John Carroll’s pub in Roscrea but the Old Commando was shocked when he admitted he had little or no interest in hurling.
He must have been the only person we encountered on visit to this town that wasn’t talking about hurling but the Old Commando found plenty of other topics to discuss with the friendly publican.
The bar was quiet when we arrived but more customers began to filter through the front door, including female customers in their twenties.
There is a dart board and ring toss board in one corner of the bar and a small snug area with a fireplace, although it was not lit during our stay. There are two TVs, with one displaying betting odds, and there are plenty of Tipperary GAA photos on display.
The toilets are small and tight for space but we couldn’t fault their cleanliness. Some of the barstools were torn in parts and could do with being reupholstered.
Rating: Three pints out of Five