The oldest tavern in the United States is reputed to be the White Horse Tavern in Rhode Island established in 1673. Now that's old! Ireland can do better - much better. Sean's Bar in Athlone, Ireland is reputed to have been established over 1,000 years ago around the year AD 900.
Sean's Bar lays claim to being the oldest extant bar in both Ireland and Europe (to establish the oldest in the world is very tricky). Sean's Bar is another in the long list of reasons why Ireland is so worth a visit. See the best of Irish bar tradition in this town of 20,000 in the heart of Ireland.
Now That's Really Old!
Established in 900 AD! That is old - really old, like super old. That predates the Vikings (and Dublin which was founded by the Vikings). It predates the Crusaders and the English invasions of Ireland (or Ireland as a united country or even England as a united country at all for that matter). It predates Russia and it predates Moscow and Berlin (but not London or Paris). At this time much of Europe was little more than petty kingdoms and Spain was ruled by the Muslim Moors.
It even predates English as a language anyone today would recognize as English. William Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616 making even the year of his birth closer to our time.
- William Shakespeare: Lived Closer to Our Time (Meh Hamlet Isn't Old!)
The modern building there today dates from the 17th or 18th century. So that isn't so old, but according to the archeological research done by the National Museum of Ireland, there may have been a pub operating on the sites for over a millennium - with that building possibly being older still.
The lore and legend of the pub's age have been supported by carbon dating of material like mud, wood, and wattle (plus the presence of un-dated tavern tokens). During renovations in the 1970s, a back wall was discovered to be partly made of wattle and wicker - testifying to the age of the building on which the modern building is built.
There are more investigations ongoing with some saying that the building may only date to around 1725 and be using ancient materials scavenged from elsewhere. With that in mind, we will be going with the lore that the pub is over 1,000 years old.
History Of The Bar And Their Own Malt
The town of Athlone is the site of what was once a great fort across the Shannon. The tale goes that once around 900 AD there lived a man by the name of Luain Mac Luighdeach - Luain the son of Lewy. He established an Inn close to "Áth Mor - The Great Ford" - an inn that would go on to become Sean's Bar. Over time a settlement grew and in 1129 the King Turlough O' Connor built a wooden castle to protect the settlement.
- Guinness World Records: Issued A Certificate To Sean's Bar As The "Oldest Pub In Ireland" According To The Irish Times
Note: Currently The Title For Oldest Pub In The World Is Up For Grabs And Nothing Has Been Found To Be Older Than AD 900
Recently Sean's Bar has become famous for its very own whiskey. Next time in Ireland duck in and taste their own unique blend of grain and malt whiskey that has been matured over time in bourbon casks. The whiskey is dedicated to "Luain" fabled to have been the very first innkeeper at Sean's bar.
Sean’s Bar Single Malt - ‘Clonmacnoise’: Their ‘Clonmacnoise' was released in 2018 as a tribute to the monks in the monasteries in the region who have been developing and perfecting the art of distillation for centuries.
Visiting Sean's Bar
Sean's Bar boasts an electric atmosphere with music 7 nights a week, live bands, that "Gold Ol' Irish Craic, and characteristic flowing pints.
Sláinte Agus Céad Míle Fáilte A Sean’s Bar!
So come on down to Sean's Bar where:
"Pints Are Always Flowing & The Clientele Is Always Diverse."
The iconic bar is situated in the heart of Ireland about halfway between Dublin and Galway in the town of Athlone - so it is not even in one of Ireland's main cities.
- Monday to Saturday: 10:30 am to 11:30 pm | Sunday: 12:30 pm to 11 pm
- Address: 13 Main Street, Athlone, Westmeath, W37 DW76
- Display: One Section Of This Old Wall Remains On Display At The Pub
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While in Ireland, get another fantastic taste of Ireland the way it was and stay in the luxurious Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny. See how the estate embodies hundreds of years of local Irish history while one dines at its Michelin-starred restaurant.