The nondescript pub has a storied history dating back over 1,000 years.

By Alison Fox
July 24, 2019
Courtesy of Sean's Bar

When you pull up a chair at Sean's Bar in Athlone, Ireland, you join countless others who have done so before.

That’s because the humble pub happens to be the oldest in Ireland — and possibly the world. At Sean’s Bar, they’ll pour you a tipple of Irish whiskey or offer up a pint of Guinness, all while you sit on a spot that has been around since 900 AD.

Courtesy of Sean's Bar

The bar — located in the Midlands of Ireland (one of the best countries for solo travelers) and just over 70 miles from Dublin — discovered its historical roots during a renovation in 1970. Workers found that the walls had been made of “wattle and wicker,” and discovered old coins that had been minted by landlords to barter with their customers.

According to the bar, the site started out as an inn, founded by a man — Luain Mac Luighdeach — who helped guide travelers who had to cross the River Shannon.

This earned the pub the Guinness World Record for “The Oldest Public House in Ireland.” And while the record for the oldest bar in the world is still being researched, the folks behind Sean's Bar say so far nothing older has been found.

And while the coins and walls themselves are now on display at the National Museum of Ireland, you can still see one section at the pub itself.

Today, the bar — with an open fireplace and sawdust on the floor — celebrates its status with everything that makes an Irish pub great: live music, good beer, and even its own whiskey (they also run a daily historic talk about the history of whiskey distilling, beginning around the 6th century in Athlone).

Martin Thomas Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Beyond the pub, the town of Athlone is no stranger to history being forged in its streets. The Athlone Castle dates back to 1129, and the town has been the site of plundering Vikings, according to Tourism Ireland.

So head to this riverside town and enjoy a drink where people have been for over 1,000 years — you certainly won’t be the first.

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