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.
Like many Irish do, I spent a year of my life living in another country. It wasn’t so much a choice, as a necessity for the degree I was studying; a BA International in German. I was 20 and terrified of my own shadow. I cried all the way there and non-stop for the first few weeks.
On arriving in Karlsruhe, I stumbled across Scruffy's Irish Pub and found a place where I could chat to the barman from Galway, play music with a lad from Leitrim and for a few hours, not feel like I was a million miles away from home.
Some afternoons, when the homesickness would get too much, I would turn up at the door close to tears, and I was guaranteed a warm welcome and a good laugh to cheer me up.
Paul, the owner, took care of us in his own way and I don’t think he knows how much it meant to me. I’d listen to his band on a regular basis and, now and again, he’d sing The Lakes of Ponchartrain because he knew it was my favourite. He took us under his wing.
You can’t praise Scruffy’s without mentioning the other Irish bar down the road, Flynn’s Inn. They go hand in hand you see. Scruffy’s is the music hub, with local and international bands, trad music and impromptu sessions. There was always a guitar knocking around.
Flynn's is the sports bar, showing all the rugby, soccer and GAA matches. Although it has a completely different vibe to its neighbour, it's just as warm and welcoming. This is where I pulled a few pints during my time in Karlsruhe and got to watch my precious Mayo matches. Dave was equally good to me.
I met such an eclectic mix of people during my time there; Irish, English, Americans and plenty of Germans. Everyone gathered in both pubs on regular occasions and we became a happy little community. Every year or so I take myself back for a visit and I really enjoy catching up with that gang, reminiscing about those crazy days playing a few tunes.
I’m just one of many, many Irish abroad who has been desperately homesick and found solace in these two places, been looked after by Paul or Dave and made life-long friends.
All Irish pubs have Guinness, the Irish flags, the aptly named shots and even a few "Dublin 1,000km ->" signs, but the truly great Irish pubs are a home away from home, offering a temporary cure for homesickness and place to meet up with people in the same boat. For that reason, I would like to nominate both Scruffy's Irish Pub and Flynn's Inn as the best Irish pubs in the world. scruffys.de and flynnsinn.de
Think your favourite pub abroad could claim the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland)? Tell us about it by entering the competition here.