“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
I probably shouldn’t quote Beckett today, what with being deep in Yeat’s country but alas, these words seem apt. The ‘R.E. Public House’ blog has struggled to get off the ground since its original inception and yet myself & Angelika are certain that it will come to pass. 2013 presents a new dawn on many fronts and equally hope is in the air regarding our ongoing, joyous pub-hunting. While it has been quiet in words this past while, trust us; it has not been quiet in deed, so we have plenty of pub tales to share with you, starting from where we are at today, happy and relaxed in groovy Sligo Town on this the 9th day of February, 2013.
We came here planning to enjoy the treats of both Hargadons and Shoot the Crows in particular but the day has started well with the unexpected delight of the ‘Thomas Connolly’ pub. The attractive, late 19th century facade (the pub was first licensed in 1861) suggested quiet pint-sippin’ over the daily newspapers but when we sidled in, in fact the place was humming with a gentle crowd, watching rugby and horse-racing on the TVs stationed high above the bar. Folks were busy in conversation over impromptu, afternoon pints. The soft brown hues of the interior, with daylight creeping in, created a lovely cocoon for us to while away an hour, over our first pints of the day. The place was essentially a long corridor of delicately arranged snugs & private rooms, boxed in by wooden panels and dusty glass, allowing what was a sizeable crowd to find their own little alcoves of privacy and craic. The tongue-and-groove walls were adorned with all manner of old photos, postcards, ledger books and receipts that instilled a real sense of occasion. We’ve been in many wonderful pubs, but we both knew that this place truly was something special.
By the Garavogue
Incredibly, while the pub was a ‘find’, in fact it features in one of the many pub reference books we tend to carry with us on these trips. We’d had such a hectic week, and what with coming directly to Sligo after work on Friday evening, we’d neglected to take ‘The Irish Pub’ book (by James Fennell & Turtle Bunbury), in which there’s a great historical write-up about Connolly’s. We typically bring the book with us on these trips so if we’d not uncovered this haven now, we’d certainly have found it eventually. Highlights of the pub’s storied past include at least one visit from Charles Stewart Parnell in its early days, plus Thomas Connolly himself becoming Mayor of Sligo in 1890 (the same year he acquired the pub) – no doubt the celebratory drinks afterwards in this very place would have been quite a night to be part of! The pubs inception at that time was against a backdrop of plentiful maritime deliveries of rope, linen & tea coming in on ships from all over Europe. There was once a grocer’s shop at one end of the pub – now gone – popular for making sugar, selling tea and for bottling whiskey. In fact, Connolly’s grew a reputation as somewhat of a tea specialist, selling a range of famous blends, as evidenced by the six tea bins still sitting on display behind the main bar. Nowadays the bus stop for buses to Donegal sits outside the pub, thereby facilitating a sneaky pint for those braving the cold. Connolly’s also catches the odd out-of-towner, such as ourselves, coming from the unashamedly modern Glasshouse Hotel sitting just across from it on the other side of the Garavogue River. Plus of course, needless to say, it hasn’t lasted this long without its fair share of regulars.
Reluctantly, we left after our pints for such lesser pursuits as freshening up and getting some dinner in our bellies before an eve of avid drinking and pub-hoppin’, but of course – after some great other pubs en route (wow, Sligo is spoilt for choice!) – we ended up back in Connolly’s for the final pint of the night, as it had made such a lasting impression earlier in the day. The crowd was smaller than expected on returning and somehow the daylight-filled magic of the afternoon seemed more suited to it than the artificially-lit Saturday night, but it still captured the imagination. We sat in our same little cosy alcove, sipping pints as before, people-watching and breathing the place in. You know, just our usual.
Oh, the simple joy it would indeed be, to be a ‘regular’ here.
- Words: Damien Smyth
- Photos: Angelika Appelqvist
Name: Thomas Connolly’s
Address: Holborn St. / Markievicz Rd., Sligo Town, Co. Sligo
Established: 1861 (first licensed) ; 1890 (purchased by Thomas Connolly)
Proprietor: Gerry Nicholson
Visit because: Enjoy a time-out over a quiet pint in this wonderfully antique pub (officially Sligo Town’s oldest pub), right in the heart of town. Grab a snug; there are quite a number of them here.
Tel.: +353 (0)71 9143340
Social links: N/A
Location / Map: