Tynan's Bridge House

Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

This is a pub you'll want to take home with you. Tynan's, just beside the Nore, was consistently recommended to me as one of Ireland's best. With its beautifully preserved appointments, it is an antiquarian's delight.

Tynan's was a pharmacy and grocery store, and Michael Tynan has owned and operated the pub since 1919. It is considered by many to be the most genuine and interesting pub in Kilkenny.

In perfect rows of shiny wood behind the front bar are ranks of drawers marked CLOVES, CITRON, ALMONDS, RICE, SAGO. An iron rail remembers when it used to support flitches of bacon from its hooks, an intricate old clock chimes the hour, a two-hundred-year-old scale, with its wonderful little cup weights, stands on the bar; and all is lit nostalgically by old, globed gas lamps in perfect working order. All this and more... as the ads used to say.

I sat down at the central bar, a kind of large island that takes up most of the room, and ordered a Smithwick's ale. An elderly gentleman with a kind, ruddy face was seated next to me. "Damned good choice," he commented. "The name's Walter B. Smithwick," he said, holding out his hand and enjoying my flabbergasted expression.

Smithwick's have been brewing in Kilkenny since 1710. The brewery is built on the site of a twelfth century Franciscan monastery, whose Romanesque tower is now surrounded by loading docks, beer kegs and trucks - quite an expansion of the bit of brewing done by the good brothers, its former occupants.

Mr Smithwick kindly invited me to visit him for breakfast at Kilkreen Lodge, the Smithwick homestead for several centuries. I was pleased to hear that I was partaking of rashers and eggs under the same roof that had sheltered such distinguished visitors as William Congreve and Jonathan Swift. After coffee in the greenhouse, Mr Smithwick took me for a tour of Kilkenny. I guess I just picked the right ale that day.

You can find the Tynan's Bridge House at St. John's Bridge in the town of Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.

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