‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: Auld Shillelagh, London
‘The long narrow pub has been an extension of my living room in Hackney for almost 12 years’
Ruairi Mulkere: The Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington is ‘a place we can walk in and sit down and content ourselves in friendly familiar surroundings with a distinctly Irish feel that doesn’t try to be anything, yet gets it all so right’. Photograph: Google Street View
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.
There is something in all of us Irish abroad that makes us want to have something of what we left behind after making that fateful decision to leave our homes and our country behind for foreign shores.
Having lived in London for 15 years and travelled to many countries on the continent and beyond, I have walked through the doors of many Irish themed pubs. But none have ever had that touch of home that I always feel in the Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington.
The long narrow pub has been an extension of my living room for almost 12 years, the same friendly faces of those young and old and a distinctly genuinely Irish feel to the bar, it’s not home but it’s not a million miles away either.
A lot of places try to be Irish, but the Shil as we know it doesn’t even have to. A great place to watch sport - GAA, horse racing, rugby, soccer etc - it can get rammed when Ireland are playing or for the All-Ireland Finals.
There’s a wonderful mix of Irish, English, Afro-Caribbean and Turskish clientele. There’s music at the weekends, they serve bacon and cabbage for free on Paddy’s Day with the place decked out with balloons and flags, and there’s even the odd eclectic event such as the David Bowie nights. You can walk in and talk about hurling, politics, or whatever is in the news, or just sit and listen to stories and yarns being told, each being embellished further as the night progresses.
I have made many friends in here. I even met my wife as a result of this pub. The regulars that have moved away always come back and call in when they are around. Brendan Gleeson one Saturday took out a fiddle and started playing it at the bar.
Some famous faces from the world of music and television walk in the door and melt into the background with Guinness flowing from perfectly kept taps and the sound of people laughing and joking away about something the other end of the bar. Walk in at 3 o’clock of a Tuesday when its quieter, and Vera, who has been working there for 30 years, will be behind the bar with a great welcome for you and plenty of chat.
A home from home, that is what the Leydon Brothers (Aonghus and Tomas) have created here. A place we can walk in and sit down and content ourselves in friendly familiar surroundings with a distinctly Irish feel that doesn’t try to be anything, yet gets it all so right.
We might wake up each day under the London sky, but we can always call in to the Shil and feel that little piece of home, even if that’s hundreds of miles and a plane journey away. Just sit at the bar if you don’t believe me. theauldshillelagh.co.uk 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.