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Gary Law temp byline 2021

Guinness in some stout of the way places: 10 far-flung hostelries that prove Ireland’s greatest export is the pub

Gary Law


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Paddy’s Irish Pub looks like it could be in Dublin, but it’s 3,400m up in the Peruvian Andes

Paddy’s Irish Pub looks like it could be in Dublin, but it’s 3,400m up in the Peruvian Andes

Paddy’s Irish Pub looks like it could be in Dublin, but it’s 3,400m up in the Peruvian Andes

I guess I’m in the minority when I say I’m really not a fan of ‘Irish’ bars abroad. After all, it’s claimed there are more than 100,000 of them dotted around the world. However, a great many of them are neither run nor staffed by Irish people and often their only nod to Ireland involves walls adorned with assorted paddywhackery and a Guinness tap. Maybe I’m missing the point, but if I go to Amsterdam I want to soak up the atmosphere of a Dutch bar — the same goes for Spain, Australia, Japan, wherever.

But there’s no denying Irish bars are one of this island’s most widespread and successful global exports, like China’s restaurants or Italy’s pizza parlours. Wherever there’s a gather-up of bars, no matter what country you happen to be in, there’ll be a ‘Squinty McGinty’s’ or a ‘Top O’ the Mornin’ looming large with a sign outside urging customers to ‘come on on in’. And despite my own personal misgivings, people do seem to love them. Hence their appearance in some of the unlikeliest corners of the world.

So here is Drinking It In’s guide to the planet’s most far-flung Irish bars — 10 distant outposts of Irish drinking culture that you’re unlikely ever to visit unless you have a sudden overwhelming desire for a pint of stout in Shanghai or a glass of Paddy’s in Papua New Guinea. Some have considerably more authentic ‘Irishness’ than others, but all of them prove one thing — it never hurts business to insert the word ‘Irish’ in your pub’s name if you own one abroad.

The Irish Pub, Nepal: Claiming to be the highest Irish bar in the world, this hostelry in the village of Namche Bazar nestles 3,450m up in the Himalayas and has been promising ‘good food, cheap beer and great music’ ever since it opened in 2011. Up until recently there wasn’t even a road into the village, but that didn’t stop the owners bringing in a pool table along mountain tracks.

Ulster Irish Pub, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Nestling in the shadow of a 13th century fortress in the town of Doboj, this lively nightspot insists: ‘If you’re Irish, you’re one of the family.” Over a pint of Guinness you can enjoy such well-known Irish musical delights as heavy metal, rap, ska and, er, reggae.

Dublin Irish Pub, Mongolia: The first Irish bar in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbataar is better known for its locally-brewed Chinggis Dark stout than Guinness but its appearance did kickstart a mind-boggling explosion of ‘Irish’ pubs in the city that has resulted in at least 30 (some say 40) bars decked with shamrocks and whiskey mirrors.

Bubbles O’Leary’s, Uganda: This Irish pub in the capital Kampala has a greater claim to authenticity than most of its rivals around the world. Many of the furnishings, including the bar counter, seating and even the front door, were salvaged from a pub in Drogheda after it was demolished in 2003 and shipped out to Africa. The new bar’s unusual name was apparently inspired by the nickname for one of the owner’s schoolteachers back in Ireland.

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St Patrick’s Corner, Siberia: One of half a dozen Irish pubs unaccountably clustered in the city of Novosibirsk in Russia’s frozen north, St Patrick’s Corner has Guinness and Kilkenny on tap and, like Bubbles O’Leary’s, the dark wood fittings, furniture and floor tiles are said to have been brought over from Ireland.

James Joyce Irish Pub, Taiwan: So successful has the James Joyce pub been in the capital Taipei that its German owner opened a second one in 2017, both of them packing in customers with a promise of “authentic Irish music, beer, whiskey and GAA sport”.

Paddy’s Irish Pub, Peru: Situated just 50m lower than the Irish Pub in Nepal, this bar above the clouds in the city of Cuzco claims to be the highest Irish-owned pub in the world. Given the chilly temperatures at 3,400m above sea level, it’s hardly surprising that one of their best sellers is Irish coffee with Jameson’s whiskey.

McGinley’s, Alaska: Promising ‘a touch of Ireland in Anchorage’, McGinley’s has been living up to its claim since 2006 with Irish dancing, pints of Guinness, Harp and Magner’s, and corned beef and cabbage on the menu.

Dublin Irish Pub, Argentina: The city of Ushuaia proudly proclaims itself to be the ‘end of the world’ in Tierra del Fuego province at the tip of South America and this corrugated iron shack with an Irish theme is a regular first port of call for scientists and polar explorers returning from Antarctica in search of a pint.

Oliver’s Corner, Lapland: Located just four miles south of the Arctic Circle in the Finnish town of Rovaniemi, this Irish pub lures customers with the slogan: ‘Grand atmosphere!’ — a good enough reason to head there in winter, when the town averages just six minutes of sunlight a day.


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