‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: The Coolin, Paris

‘My favourite pub abroad is about to disappear after 19 years, taking with it a part of this city which has become home’

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.

The Coolin is my favourite Irish pub abroad, and after 19 years it’s about to disappear forever.

Dubliner Brian Spain opened The Coolin, in the Marché Saint Germain, in the heart of Paris’s Left Bank, when the Marché was renovated in 1996. Now the Marché is to be made over once again, and the pub to be gobbled up by a fruit-themed computer company.

So what does The Coolin mean to me? It means a decent pint or two of Guinness, a chat and a crossword on the way home from work (I teach just round the corner).


It has meant famous Munster victories (and some by Leinster, too); it has meant GAA, Ryder Cups, Grand Nationals, even Ireland beating England in cricket! It has meant crying hot tears of joy and relief on my French neighbour's shoulder when Stephen Jones pushed a penalty wide to ensure Ireland's only Grand Slam of my lifetime.

It has seen Paddy’s Day celebrations so tumultuous, so heaving that the crowds - French, Irish, English, American, wearing silly hats and bellowing along to the Pogues - spilled out into the street in front, which had to be closed to traffic.

I have seen Imelda May in a private concert, and young hopefuls line up every Monday night for open mic. I have also seen, just a few weeks ago, Paddy Sherlock, the house musician, perform We Shall Overcome with Patrick Pelloux, a survivor of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and a regular, as was Charb, the late editor.

So The Coolin is going to disappear, and with it the Burger d'Agneau Haché de Connemara and its Plateau de Fromages Irlandais with Crozier Blue, Ardsallagh and Coolea cheeses.

Maybe it’s not the best Irish pub abroad, but for almost 20 years it has been mine. With it will go part of this city that has become home, and a bit of the home I left behind.

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.