Sean's Bar – Athlone, Ireland - Atlas Obscura

Sean's Bar

Athlone, Ireland

The oldest pub in Ireland may also be the oldest surviving bar in the entire world. 


Sitting in a traditional Irish neighborhood on the bank of the River Shannon, Sean’s Bar is a quintessential Irish public house, which makes sense as it predates all of them, and maybe even every bar still in existence.

It was during renovations in the 1970’s that workers found evidence that the already historic pub may have dated back far further than anyone had previously thought. It was discovered that one of the walls was actually made of wattle and daub, an ancient building compound that used wooden strips held together by mud and clay. They also found some ancient coins that dated back to around 900 CE which was confirmed when the ancient wall was carbon tested. Looking into history, it seems that the bar had likely existed for over a thousand years after being established as an inn for travelers crossing the fords that once sat in the area.

The coins and most of the wall were moved to the Irish National Museum, but a portion of the ancient construction still remains on site. The bar has been awarded the Guinness World Record for oldest pub in Ireland, and investigations are ongoing to secure the honor of oldest bar in the world. Whether or not this is true, the pub continues to operate as a traditional (the MOST traditional?) Irish pub with ale and music that seems like it might keep ringing out for another thousand years. 

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