|Where is this mystery pub?|
I was enjoying the Clare sunshine of a mighty spring afternoon when brother Sean telephoned from Dublin to tantalize me totally for the rest of the day with news of a unique country pub he discovered in the county Cork over the previous weekend. The trouble was that he refused to tell me the name of the pub or exactly where it trades.
All families have their special frequencies for good or ill. It betrays a lot about the weakness (or strength?) of the senior MacConnell clan members that we share discoveries of the sadly dwindling numbers of special country pubs of music, song and craic that we still discover in the rich nooks and crannies of Hidden Ireland and, via brother Cathal, in Scotland as well.
It is not the booze that matters really at all -- you can get booze anywhere in a thousand of the new plasticated pubs -- but the special atmospheres of the special places involved.
I feel very lucky indeed to be living so close to my own special country pub, the Honk I often mention here, and I've often brought my brothers and their sons there, but Sean drove me crazy with his description of a pub which he would not fully identify for me lest I get there before he can visit again.
"I'll bring you in through the front door," says he, "and you will be standing in one county when you do that but, if you wish, you can finish off your pint in no less than two other counties without having to leave the premises. This is the pub where three counties meet around a great lively bar and where the windows are stuffed with views of Cork and Tipperary and Waterford. It's a place to bring overseas visitors with the blood of any of the three counties in their veins, and that's for sure.”
"Where is it?" I begged him at once, but dammit the wastard refused to tell me. He just dropped a few juicy morsels of trivial information in front of me and promised that we would get there soon.
One of the morsels revealed that the barman on duty when he was there was wearing a Waterford hurling jersey because Waterford were hurling against Kilkenny that day and lost after a titanic tussle. He also revealed one had a good view of Carrick-on-Suir through one of the windows.
"Where exactly is it?" I begged him again, but got nothing more substantial in return than that the pub is close to the Araglen River and its singing stones.
I know the country well at this stage of my life, but I cannot place the Araglen River at all. I suppose it is most likely to be somewhere on the Cork border on the edge of the Golden Vale of Ireland, but I'm not sure.
And just when I was beginning to ask clever leading geographic questions that might help me navigate towards this very special pub, my bloody brother claimed there was somebody knocking urgently on his front door and he had to leave me. Call over and the mystery not solved.
Please, if there is anyone reading this who drank in this pub before they left Ireland, or who was born by the banks of the Araglen River, or who can be of any help at all, please let me know the precise location as soon as possible so that I can follow the spring sunshine down to Araglen territory before the year is much older and claim forever after that I drank a pint of Guinness in three counties in the one establishment without spilling a drop or having to go outside the door.
If any of you can help on this front I promise faithfully that I will not alone share the experience here in this space, but I will also buy the informant a stout brandy of his or her choice the next time they visit these shores.
And if perchance the good landlord of the pub is one of the growing number of homelanders who peruse our website Irish Central, I promise him that not alone will I come down soonest, but I will sing at least three ballads before the evening is over and afterwards tell the entire diaspora where his doorstep is.
And I will encourage my brothers and their clans to stage the next clan rally there. I can't say fairer than that.
Prior to Sean's new discovery, one of the most interesting establishments we discovered was Killeens splendid pub on the banks of the Shannon where one half is in Connacht and the other in Leinster and where, if you so wish, you can purchase your funeral habit in advance in the attached shop!
But that's another story altogether.