I know I don’t seem like your typical Irishman. I have a home in Cabo and spend time during winters there and then much of spring and fall in my beach condo on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
What can I say? I like the warm weather and beach lifestyle, where you can comfortably be outside year-round.
But I am indeed from Ireland—Cork to be specific—and each summer time in Ireland visiting family and friends takes precedence.
My heart is in the Emerald Isle.
I’m not alone in living outside of the Old Country. Roughly 1.47 million of my fellow Irish citizens also do.
Add to that figure the estimated 50 to 80 million people around the world who have Irish ancestry, and it’s no wonder Paddy’s Day (which was just last week), as we Irish call it, is celebrated across the globe.
So I thought we could celebrate a little here by exploring the ultimate Irish dream—owning your own pub in the Land of a Thousand Welcomes (Ireland really does have a lot of nicknames).
What’s more, a change in Irish law just last month means that now could be the best time ever to buy that fixer-upper pub/home of your dreams.
From February 2022, pubs in Ireland that have been closed for at least two years will be eligible for redevelopment into housing units without planning permission.
A new rule that would apply handily to the first pub on our list.
Melly’s Bar, County Donegal
AMV Listed as €64,500 ($71,496)
Donegal is famous even within Ireland for its rugged beauty. If you dream of the windswept romance that Ireland is famous for, then this county on the northwest coast could be your ideal spot. And the building formerly known as Melly’s Bar could make for a nice home here.
Melly’s is typical of a type of Irish pub that suffered from changing norms and had to close down—the country pub. Back in the old days, folks would drive to the pub, drink their fill, then drive home again. Obviously that’s not done anymore, and pubs like Melly’s out in the countryside without homes or public transport nearby had to close as they simply couldn’t get customers to come.
So I wouldn’t recommend this as a pub to run. But, thanks to that new law I mentioned, it would be easy to turn Melly’s into a home with a lot of character. The building is spacious with a terrace out back, a kitchen, four bathrooms, and two private lounges aside from the main bar/lounge area including a large one upstairs that could be converted into multiple bedrooms.
Then there’s that bar/lounge area itself with its long, classic bar. You could do lots with that space, such as an open plan living area or divide it into multiple rooms of various functions. Or you could keep it styled as a bar, convert the additional lounges into as many bedrooms as possible, and wind up with a very attractive Airbnb for groups looking for the rural Irish pub experience.
Melly’s is being sold at auction and the figure in our title here is the advised minimum value. This is a guide price at which the seller has the choice to accept or not. Actual bids could be higher.
View the listing for yourself here and imagine the possibilities.
Kitty McGreal’s, County Mayo
Listing for €120,000 ($133,016)
This 100-year-old pub in the small town of Kiltimagh, County Mayo offers a very different prospect to our last choice. A working pub, the building has been renovated to keep the old school feel of the bar while modernizing the facilities.
This can mostly be seen in the living space above the pub. A two-bedroom affair with bathroom, kitchen, and living room, the apartment isn’t spacious but looks cozy and modern, with new appliances fittings.
The bar downstairs boasts two open fires, and seems to come with a ready-made crowd of regulars. The listing mentions that the pub is popular with local musicians.
Kitty McGreal’s is named for three sisters—Kitty, Margaret, and Bridie—and, interestingly, the sellers hint that, while long passed, their spirits may still be watching over the pub.
Do ghosts count as an additional feature? In Ireland, maybe.
Pascal’s Bar, County Kilkenny
Listing for €275,000 ($304,830)
This large, 2637 square foot pub sits in a prominent corner position in the tiny (population 444) town of Johnstown, County Kilkenny. The building was constructed in 1990 and the current owner has spent the last 17 years turning Pascal’s Bar into a reputable business.
The bar features two bar/lounge rooms, a pool table, darts area, outdoor smoking area, and a back room for music performances as well, of course, as ladies and gents bathrooms.
Upstairs there is living accommodation with a separate entrance to the pub, meaning if you don’t choose to live in it yourself it could serve as Airbnb accommodation—though in a town so small, tourist numbers are likely to be light. The living space comprises two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room.
If you want that real small town Irish feel, and have dreamed of being the local publican for all your neighbors, then Pascal’s Bar could be for you.