Barfly: Nancy’s, Ardara, Co Donegal

Seven generations of the same family have run this incredibly cosy landmark pub, perched on the Wild Atlantic Way

Nancy’s has been run by seven generations of the same family, and three of them still pull pints behind the bar.

Nancy’s has been run by seven generations of the same family, and three of them still pull pints behind the bar.

 

Nancy’s is one of those pubs that just captures the imagination. Set on the main street of a handsome Donegal seaside town with a river flowing alongside it, you will know you’ve arrived when you meet the rise of the town bridge. The gable wall heralds Nancy’s name from a distance, but it’s the family welcome and warren of rooms inside that make the difference.

Nancy’s has been run by seven generations of the same family, and three of them still pull pints behind the bar. Siblings Conor and Jenny McHugh officially run it, but their parents, Charlie and Ann, hold court and direct the business they inherited decades before. The children virtually grew up in the pub and their aunt arrives regularly from London to look after the cottage garden. They have turned their home into more than a business, with every space converted to make room for visitors.

More than 100 Toby jugs hang from the ceiling. The collection was started by Jenny’s Nan, who had an eye for a good auction and filled the bar with brass, bric-a-brac and keepsakes. The uneven flagstone floors and mismatched furniture reminds you that you are in a place apart.

Nancy’s is famous for its oysters, which the McHughs source locally and serve up simply to Jenny’s mother’s recipe. Local craft beers line the shelves, with Kinnegar Brewery continuing its assault on the market. Irish cider from Stonewell, Tempted and Scots Cider claim a permanent home here.

Sitting on the Wild Atlantic Way, Nancy’s is riding a wave begun by the Gathering. Find a seat and make yourself at home.

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