You can’t walk down a street in Midtown Manhattan without coming across some form of Irish pub. Yet quality isn’t guaranteed with quantity in New York as they all lose out to an Irish pub in the most unlikely of places.
According to the Irish Times, the best Irish pub in the world (outside of Ireland) can be found in Kuala Lumpur!
Healy Mac’s in the Malaysian capital was crowned because of its tireless commitment to upholding high standards of the classic Irish pub: good Irish food, its promotion of Irish sport and its welcoming atmosphere for people of all nationalities.
Healy Mac’s is one of a chain of seven pubs of the same name, located close to the city’s landmark Petronas Tower. The owner, Liam Healy, a native a Belmullet, Co. Mayo, told the Irish Times, “I left for New York in the late 1970s, aged 15. But in all my travels I never found a good bar where I could just have a pint and feel at home.”
He traveled through the US, UK and Indonesia before deciding to open Healy Mac’s in 2008. The decision to open the first pub came as recession saw a decline in business for his teak and mahogany furniture factory. “It was fortunate in a way. If it hadn’t been for the global recession, I wouldn’t have opened an Irish bar,” he says.
The Best Irish Pub competition was organized by The Irish Times last year to find not only the best Irish drinking establishment worldwide but the pub that offered a meeting place and social center for Irish people and for Irish culture abroad.
Healy Mac’s scored high under the three criteria: food, sport and home-like atmosphere.
The pub has sponsored the local GAA team, Orang Eire team, for the past three years and even runs a weekly quiz night after training.
The pub became a post-match favorite for celebrations during the three years when Malaysia hosted the GAA’s annual Asian Games and also held The Script’s after-party when they played in Kuala Lumpur last week.
Tayto sandwiches and an all-day full Irish breakfast tick all the boxes in the food category and Ballymaloe-trained chef Andrew Kelly serves up a menu stocked with Irish classics.
What sets it apart, however? Friendliness, says Healy. “We have to keep a hold of our personal touch,” he says.
There are currently between 1,000 and 1,500 Irish born people living in Malaysia, according to the Irish embassy, many of whom work in the country’s energy industry.
Other pubs recognized in the competition included:
- The Auld Shillelagh in London – “most authentic” Irish pub abroad
- The Irish Pub Koblenz in Germany – “best ambassador” for its role in introducing Germans to Ireland
- Bubbles O’Leary in Kampala, Uganda – “best backstory” for dismantling a bar in Drogheda, Co. Louth, and reassembling it in west Africa.
What’s your favorite Irish pub in the whole world? Let us know what you think in the comment section, below.
* Originally published in April 2015.