The Irish Times' Generation Emigration project is on the hunt for the best Irish pub in the world outside Ireland. The following is one of the entries we've received so far. To read more, or find out how to nominate your favourite Irish pub abroad, click here.
It cannot be a perfect Irish pub if it isn’t in Ireland. But if you can’t be in Ireland and you’re living on the other side of the planet, what can you do? Bring a bit of Ireland with you.
In Bathurst in New South Wales, Australia, Jack Duggans Irish Pub is Irish owned and run. The owners and most of the staff are from Cork (boy), Kerry, Dundalk (down d town), Dublin (someone has to be), Limerick, Kildare, Tipperary and Longford (bless). Somehow they all found themselves in this picturesque NSW country town, where they bask in the summer sun and commiserate every time the rain reminds them of Ireland.
The pub is called Jack Duggans because of the owner’s close ties to Castlemaine in Ireland, birthplace of Jack Duggan, the Wild Colonial Boy. Jack was sent to Australia for “intent to commit a felony” and after breaking out of the local Bathurst Gaol, he turned bushranger. The ballad, The Wild Colonial Boy, appeared soon after his death and was such a focus for popular discontent that it became a civil offence to sing it in any public place.
Australian authorities banned its singing in beer shops and taverns. That in itself is a good enough reason to flaunt the authorities and break into song. Which they do, with their monthly Irish trad session, where you’ll find everything from bodhráns to fiddles and the odd tin whistle.
They serve a mean pint of Guinness and have available the unusual and rare Irish drop that can usually only be got on home soil. They run a restaurant where the list of awards alone is enough to entice you to try their Guinness pie.
The pub is filled with photos and interesting memorabilia, dragged over from Ireland, to remind one of home, or give the uninitiated a taste of what they’re missing.
There is one other ingredient that makes a “best Irish pub”, it must also be a true local. Jack Duggans embrace and promote all that is special in the Bathurst area – amazing fresh local produce, wonderful local wines and fine Bathurst gin. They sponsor everything from local school events, to cricket teams, to Aussie football. They celebrate what makes them unique, whist embracing their new culture, bringing out the best of both.
But it’s in the service that their true Irish colours shine - the chat at the bar, the gift of the gab, the quick smile and the genuine warmth... This is what’s Irish. And when you’re abroad, it’s what sets them apart from everyone else. That’s what makes people come back and that’s why they call it their local.
Like the wild colonial boy, you can’t beat the Irish out of them.
So who’s got the best Irish pub?
Ireland, we’ve got you covered. Until next time we can sample the real thing, Jack Duggans is as close as it comes (give or take 17,456 km).
Think your favourite Irish pub abroad could claim the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland)? Tell us about it by entering the competition here.