Barfly: the Shebeen, a bar on wheels
I don’t know why this mobile bar holds such fascination for people. Perhaps it’s that the interiors are so authentic or just that the idea of owning your own Irish pub for the night is so attractive. Made-up bars don’t often work – you can see where people have tried too hard to replicate “the craic”. But the fun wrapped up in this tiny pub on wheels somehow roots it in a real Irish experience.
The first time I came across it, it was jammed full of over-excited adults – all dreaming of making it their own, while hosting an impromptu singalong.
Strangers come and pile in, finding common ground in familiar surroundings. Some people compare it to their granny’s house, others to a beautiful old snug. Heads of passers-by pop through the windows as everyone tries to be part of the action. There’s really something magical about it that’s hard to explain.
The owner, John Walsh from Galway, like the best landlords, is a man with patience: you need to entertain a lot of prospective customers to take off as a business but this seems to be gathering a great head of steam. You can rent it by the day/night (€750) or by the weekend or longer. A lot of bookings, he says, come from weddings and adult birthday parties and people have loved it.
He’s built a second, slightly larger version to meet demand and this one is thatched. He calls it the Connemara. His pride in his work shines through and he hopes to see a custom-made version head to the US this autumn. There are two beer taps inside, an old cash register, all the trappings of a pub – even a stuffed fox with a bird in its mouth. Like all great bars, it defies its own description: the Shebeen is simply itself. For more see theshebeen.com