‘The Grapes keeps a small Irish community united in Sheffield’

‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: The Grapes, Sheffield, England

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 Grapes is a Sheffield institution famed in music folklore as the first venue the Arctic Monkeys performed in. Originally a music venue, it has been converted into a traditional Irish pub, rich in character and forming the heart of the Irish community in the steel city.

This is not your typical "Hollywood Irish" pub, but like walking off the street in Sheffield and into a wee corner of Ireland. Each of the four rooms exhibits its own personality. Pictures of JFK adorn the walls of one, while James Connolly and Michael Collins keep a close eye on patrons in another.

Sheffield’s Irish community has become somewhat diminished in the past few years yet the Grapes remains the centre of the emigrant community. The hard working men and women who emigrated in the 50s mix with the new generation of students and young Irish people working in Sheffield.


Ireland’s culture lives on within its walls, with Irish language classes on a Monday and music sessions throughout the week, where the sound of concertinas, fiddles, pipes and flutes ring out onto the street and ballads are belted out with passion and aplomb. Drawings depicting musicians who have been mainstays in the Grapes are enshrined on the walls.

All-Ireland finals and rugby internationals turn The Grapes into a sea of county colours or a tribe of green. The atmosphere is electric, not an inch of space can be found and sandwiches steadily flow from the kitchen to keep up the strength of patrons. It provides the ideal base of operations for the local university GAA team to complete their own post-match analysis.

A good pint of Guinness is lamentably hard to find in the UK but The Grapes serves one equal to the quality of home. A generous array of whiskeys provide a homely backdrop and some local Sheffield ales compliment the high standard of beer.

What really makes the pub however is the people. The landlady, Corkonian Ann Flynn, is committed to providing a warm welcoming atmosphere. You are certain to know someone to have a chat with once you cross the threshold and a great array of characters adds to the already strong community spirit.

In a city without it's own Irish centre it provides the ideal backdrop for the committee meetings, table quizzes, coffee mornings and other events in the community. It keeps a small Irish community united. It displays Irish culture and character at it's best for the entire city. It's the nearest thing for a lot of us that we can call home. thegrapessheffield.com

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.