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09th Oct 2018

The Greatest Pub In Ireland Celebrated Its 30th Birthday Today And You Didn’t Even Know It Existed

Darragh Berry

You’d think at the age of 23 that I’d have some sort of cop on now.

But if I know I have a Friday off and I’m not working the late shift on the Thursday, I’m already planning my trip down to Galway to see my friends that are still in college and those that are working down there.

We can’t just meet for a few civilised drinks either. We have to do the dog on it each time. Our last meeting in Galway was a Thursday night at the end of September. A great night had by all and I had the bus booked to go back on Friday evening.

Myself and herself had planned to go for breakfast and have a quiet day before I headed off back to the big smoke. We were joined by my friend and his missus and as we dissected the night out after a fry in The Cellar Bar, someone hinted the suggestion of going for ‘one’.

There was only one place we were going, a place where the drink and craic is mighty whether you’re there at 11 in the morning or 11 in the evening.

As you know yourself, nobody in the history of drinking in Ireland has ever gone for ‘one’ and said “I shall take my ball, and go home now.”

It turned into a rollover and before we knew it, we were six pints deep and the working day hadn’t even finished.

All I physically had to show for it in the end was an unused bus ticket.

At one stage, whilst ordering a drink, I heard a whisper that it was their 30th birthday on the 11 October.

So then, we could justify the rollover. Sure weren’t we celebrating Taaffes‘ big 3-0 in Galway after all.

You haven’t heard of Taaffes? It’s the greatest pub in Ireland in my opinion and my reasons for making such an outrageous statement are never-ending.

And one of those reasons begins where we were sitting on that Friday rollover. You come in the door of Taaffes and immediately on the right-hand side, there is a little snug. We were perched at the corner table there.

The same snug is home to the last metre or so of the bar, meaning you don’t have to queue with the rest of the pub who are fixated on the music in the main room.

Even when you’re in the snug, you can hear the music perfectly but you might not be able to see the amazing musicians in the flesh.

And most of the time, they are the main attraction, so you can understand why people are fixated by them.

Some of Ireland’s finest and best known musicians have played that famous corner of the pub – which is just on your left hand side as you come in the door.

They don’t get much bigger than Sharon Shannon, one of the thousands who have played a tune in Taaffes but sometimes, it’s the little-known musicians that leave the place in awe.

There’s never a cover charge to see any of these fine music players and the time of day they play at always varies.

But if it’s sunny and you still want to listen to music, Taaffes’ location is still absolutely ideal in Galway to get your fill.

Situated at the bottom of Shop Street, sitting outside this place means you’re exposed to some of the finest and sometimes unknown musicians in the country.

James Gallagher is an amazing ballad singer. A Luke Kelly look-a-like when he lets his beard grow, he has the same style voice as the famous singer also, often belting out his classics including his amazing version of The Night Visiting Song.

You’ll hear the Galway Street Club before you see them, but when you see the band (who sometimes have as many as 15 people playing), you won’t forget them.

And sitting outside Taaffes means you’re in the perfect view to see an amazing Irish dancer by the name of Emma O’Sullivan.

She performs near the bottom of the street and always has a smile on her face while attempting the trickiest of moves.

But it’s getting cold and time to head back inside where the sport memorabilia on the wall will keep you entertained for hours.

Taaffes make it known that they are huge followers of those in maroon and white and to be fair, in the last 20 years they’ve had great days to shout about.

You could start talking about any single picture that hangs around the pub but in order to hear the story about the best one, you need to look up.

Colie K Hole Taaffes Main 1

I was sitting at the bar in the snug part once by myself and got chatting to a man by the name of Paddy Lally, brother of the owner, Padraig.

We chatted sport and he told me about ‘Colie K’s hole’. The story goes that during Galway’s famous win over Kildare in the ’98 All-Ireland Final, a barman who was dying to go to the game was left working but managed to fix it that his break was during the second half of the match.

As he sat on the other side of the bar, he watched as Padraic Joyce shimmied past the Kildare goalie and tapped the ball into an empty goal in what is one of the most famous goals in GAA history.

As Joyce belted the net, the barman rose up from his seat and belted the roof. Out of pure ecstacy, nobody noticed the hole until the next day when they came to the decision that instead of fixing it, they’d frame it.

It’s a story that’s almost perfect.

Around the broken ceiling is the words ‘Colie K’s Hole’ followed by the scoreline of the match and the words 1998 All-Ireland champions.

Only problem is, there’s an ‘L’ missing in Kildare on the picture!

I haven’t gone as far as to get Taaffes tattooed on my body yet but it is forever tattooed on my heart as my favourite pub in the world.

The thoughts of sitting in there drinking a pint with a wooly jumper on in November or catching a tan while watching the people rush by in June, gets me through any bleak Monday morning.

And as they celebrate their 30th birthday, we say cheers and wish them all the best for the next 30.

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