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Sean’s Bar Athlone: The Oldest Pub in Ireland (And Possibly The World)

Sean’s Bar Athlone: The Oldest Pub in Ireland (And Possibly The World)

As you may know (or maybe you don’t!) Sean’s Bar in Athlone is officially the oldest pub in Ireland (a visit here is also one of the best things to do in Athlone at night!). 

And there’s also a strong chance that it’s the oldest pub in the world.

Now if you’re thinking, ‘Hold on pal, the Brazen Head in Dublin is the oldest pub in Ireland’, you’re not alone.

They claim they’re Ireland’s oldest pub. But we’ll get to that later.

For a mind-boggling 1,000 years, Sean’s Bar, smack bang in the middle of Ireland, has been catering to the needs of weary travellers and locals alike.

Sean’s Bar Athlone – Ireland’s Oldest Public House

seans bar ireland music

Photo via Sean’s Bar

You’ll find Sean’s Bar a short stroll from the River Shannon, and a stone’s throw from the castle in Athlone Town.

The pub dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970 that exposed walls consisting of ancient wattle and daub, dating back to the 9th century.

While one of the original walls that were discovered during the excavation remains on show in Sean’s, the rest, along with coins that were also discovered at the time, now sits inside Dublin’s National History Museum.

seans bar athlone inside

Photo via Sean’s Bar

Interestingly, there are records of every owner of the pub from the 10th century until present, including the singer Boy George who owned it for a stint in the 80’s.

Here – have an aul look inside

Hit play below and visit from the comfort of your couch… or bus… you get the idea.

Oldest pub in the world claim

According to Sean’s Bar, research is ongoing into the title of “The Oldest Pub in the World”.

There are mentions of other old pubs and inns in various articles and guides online, but no pub comes close to Sean’s in terms of age.

There’s a place in Salzburg, Austria, called ‘St. Peter Stiftskulinarium’ that often contends for the title in some guides, but it’s the world’s oldest restaurant, rather than pub. 

A bit of a search online shows that it’s listed on a tonne of websites as the world’s longest-running bar – but nothing’s official.

Related Read: This is the oldest thatch pub in Ireland (it looks class and they pour a tasty pint of Guinness.

Isn’t the Brazen Head in Dublin the oldest pub in Ireland?

I thought the same until a few years ago, so lets clear that up first.

The Brazen Head in Dublin dates back to 1198, while Sean’s Bar in Athlone dates back to 900AD.

Looks like there could only possibly be one clear winner here, right?!

Well, if you visit the Brazen Head’s website, you’d be quick to believe that they’re Ireland’s oldest pub, as they’re claiming to be left, right and center.

How do we know which one is actually Ireland’s oldest pub?

seans bar athlone exterior

Photo via Sean’s Bar

Sean’s Bar had been awarded a certificate by the Guinness Book of Records, stating them to be the oldest bar in Ireland.

You’d be fairly confident that the lads who dish out these awards do their homework first.

Final verdict

Go for the atmosphere and history.

Stay for drinks by the roaring fire, the ancient artifacts that cover the walls, and the immense character that’s abundant throughout Ireland’s oldest pub.

Related read: check out our guide to 17 of the best Irish drinks.

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