Sean’s Bar in Athlone is the oldest pub in Ireland, and maybe even the world. The modest pub’s history dates back more than one thousand years, as it’s been around in one form or another since 900AD.
Sitting on the River Shannon, the first version of the pub was built by a man called Luain as a place for people to stop at the river crossing. When the pub’s owner started to renovate in 1968, the building’s history was rediscovered. Upon realising the walls were made of wattle and wicker (a historic method of creating a woven lattice plastered with clay, soil and manure), then-owner Sean Fitzsimons worked with both the National Museum of Ireland and the Guinness Book of World Records to date the material back to 900AD.
The Guinness Book of World Records was able to certify that Sean’s Bar is definitely the oldest in Ireland, and the staff say no older pub has been found anywhere else in the world. Part of the original walls hang both in the pub and the National Museum of Ireland. As Sean’s Bar is still on the same site as the original tavern, its claim to the title is valid.
The check-tiled floor still slopes, so that during times of flooding the water would run through the bar, allowing punters to drink on in relative comfort. To this day, the staff keep sawdust on the floor as a nod to the bar’s heritage, though thankfully it’s not likely to flood anymore.