Blake's of the Hollow, Eniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

So named because of its position in a dip in the centre of town among a maze of time-worn buildings, this celebrated pub is thought by some to be the best in Ulster, perhaps because of its lovingly cared-for Guinness. The exterior is still painted with red and black stripes, formerly a means of identification for those who couldn't read (red and white stripes - barber, red and black - public house).

Blake's breathes the very essence of a Northern country pub, where men with seamed faces gather in the light of tinted globes to sip for hours in the tranquil silence. When last I was in Blake's there was no TV to break the contemplative spell; it is switched on only for important sports events.

Coming into Blake's you leave the twentieth century behind except for automatic drink dispensers on the bottles most frequently requested, which limit the bartender's ability to pour you a friendly "stiff one". Never mind, you don't need it here anyway.

Note: To answer a question you may be tempted to pose; no, landlord Donal Blake is not related to the poet.

You can find the Blake's of the Hollow in Church Street, Eniskillen Co. Fermanagh.

From the Appletree Press title: The Irish Pub Guide.
Also from Appletree: Irish Pub Songs.