‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: Jack Doyle’s, Budapest

‘My days and nights working in Jack Doyle’s while on Erasmus in Hungary felt like all play’

“I believe we all ended up here for a reason,” were the memorable words spoken to me one evening in Jack Doyle’s by a dear friend whom I had not even known some months before. Budapest is an incredible city and, as I tell at least one person every day, it gave me many gifts. One of the greatest, however, was a group of friends for life and a second home, none of which would be mine without one very special place - Jack Doyle’s Irish Bar.

While in the city as an Erasmus student last year, my friends and I stumbled across this charming pub where we dined, danced and even sang for a few months. When the college term finished I was asked by Tipperary man Charles Griffin if I would like a job, so I took a chance and stayed on in the Hungarian capital for the summer. That was the greatest risk I ever took, and though I was earning a quarter of what I would have at home, it was the richest I have ever felt.

The regulars were expats from all corners of Ireland, Canada, Belgium, the US, UK as well as local Hungarians. This lot made my days and nights in Jack Doyle’s feel like no work and all play. They taught me the local language, shared their stories , made me smile every day and threw me a world class “go and please come back” party on departure.

My colleagues, after some initial hearty Hungarian pranks that came at the expense of my lack of the language, became my family away from home. Elvira, my boss, became one of my closest friends last summer. It is easy to see why Jack Doyle’s is so loved by tourists, locals, regulars, and even Irish gals like myself when in need of an open mic night somewhere outside of Cork.


The night I realised there was something special about this bar was when the “usual gang” (that being the Canadian, the Belgian, the lads from Mayo, Armagh and Dublin, and some wandering backpackers) invited me to play “beermats” - a game where throwing beermats past a particular part of a particular bar table was a serious sport; a game I had spent many a night cleaning up after.

This night was different; this night I was playing too. It was one of my first nights working in Jack’s and I had just witnessed that gang enthral the entire pub with a rousing rendition of ‘Piano Man’, when the regular crowd shuffled in. As I threw my first winning beermat across the table I caught a raised eyebrow from Charles behind the bar that seemed to say “I’m not paying you nothing to do nothing!” and I remember laughing and thinking to myself, I was meant to find this place.