‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: Irish Pub Koblenz, Germany
‘You can wander in off the street and while away the hours sipping Guinness and cracking wise with barman Shay’
‘Shay is a remarkable feature of this place. He left Ireland for Germany in 1981, working in bars and sleeping in digs until he could open his own place in 1985. A natural born publican, he is as comfortable in the role as you could possibly imagine.’
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.
Quite often, you find a pub so overloaded with personality, that its name is secondary to the feel of the place. Such is the case for the ignominiously named Irish Pub Koblenz, yet step inside and the forgettable name is swiftly and rightly forgotten.
Run by a chap from Walkinstown called Shay Dwyer, the pub is the jewel in the crown of Koblenz’s picturesque altstadt or old city, conveniently located an hour’s drive away from Ryanair destination Frankfurt Hahn.
Apart from Guinness so good you’d swear you were outside James’ Gate, and a strange local taste for Kilkenny, Shay is a remarkable feature of this place. He left Ireland for Germany in 1981, working in bars and sleeping in digs until he could open his own place in 1985. A natural born publican, he is as comfortable in the role as you could possibly imagine.
As any good publican should, he seems to know everybody in town and at some time or another; every Koblenzer has done a job of some description for him. Be it a dig out with renovations, or somebody to run some flyers to the local university, it seems as if he’s keeping the whole altstadt ticking over.
I had the pleasure of giving the lads a dig out there during the summer of 2010 and felt immediately at home with Shay, his Scouse bar manager Robbie and Robbie’s dog Jess, his ebullient and razor sharp Tallaght barman Stevie and a host of locals, both Irish and from elsewhere.
Truly a hub of the community, the pub is involved in supporting local sports teams such as the local dragon boat team, and the occasional beer-fuelled five-a-side tournaments down by the river.
You can wander in off the street at any time of the day and while away the hours sipping Guinness and cracking wise with Shay, or even talk about setting up your own place; he’s always keen to lend a bit of business insight.
I can clearly remember the moment the place took up permanent residence in my heart. It was that supercharged moment when the French football team lined out for their first match of that year’s World Cup. There I was, an aggrieved young Irishman, fresh from the burning injustice of having witnessed Thierry Henry caress the ball into the net in Paris and guarantee the French their summer in South Africa just months previously.
Just as Les Bleues were cockily clearing their throats to trumpet out La Marsellaise, the televisions were simultaneously lowered down and instead a thumping round of the fields of Athenry echoed out from every corner. The hairs on my neck indulged in their own Mexican wave and the place went crackers. I’ve heard it said that we feel our own national identity more keenly when abroad, for me it was never truer than that day.
So I urge you to forgive the name and have a look inside. You won’t regret it.
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.