Six London pubs with Irish connections you might not know about
Life & Style

Six London pubs with Irish connections you might not know about

THERE'S certainly no shortage of boozers in London, or Irish pubs for that matter.

And now Time Out Drinks Editor Laura Richards has compiled the ultimate list of bars and pubs you should visit in the English capital.

111 London Pubs & Bars That You Shouldn't Miss is the first-time author's foray into the city's best-kept drinking secrets and the history of some of the capital's best rooftops, basements, gardens, caves, breweries, distilleries and more.

Here are six with an Irish flavour...

The Auld Shillelagh - is this pub home to the best Guinness in London?

Advertisement

Richards cites the Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington as having the best Guinness in London.

"The tiny red-and-black frontage with just a sole picnic bench on Stoke Newington’s Church Street by no means flags up what’s in store for visitors," she says.

"The name may hint to customers that they’re in for a spot of the craic. But at first glance, you’d hardly think it were worthy of the title of the most authentic Irish pub outside of Ireland."

Roscommon brothers Aonghus and Tomas Leydon took over the lease in 1991 and over the last two decades have built one of the most authentic bars in the city.

"What makes it so authentic?," Richards asks. "For starters, a dry sense of humour from staff behind the bar, who serve pint after pint of the best-quality Guinness in London to wash down Tayto crisps.

"And of course there’s a whole host of characters, mostly expats who’ve found themselves a home away from home, The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan once included."

Advertisement
Shane MacGowan

Faltering Fullback - the best beer garden going

"You may find the odd green-and-orange souvenir giving away that this is actually an Irish pub," Richards writes of the Faltering Fullback.

"There are occasional folk music nights, but otherwise the agenda is geared towards having good old-fashioned fun regardless of whether your ties are Celtic."

As well as it's brilliant beer garden and horseshow bar, this sprawling boozer also offers a weekly pub quiz and open-mic night.

Originally the Sir Walter Scott, the bar dates back to 1874.

Advertisement
The Churchill Arms

The Churchill Arms - a floral delight

Made famous by its Irish landlord Gerry O'Brien, who retired to Ireland last summer, The Churchill Arms in South Kensington has become famed for its Chelsea flower show-worthy displays.

In 2016 O'Brien covered the pub with 90 Christmas trees and 21,000 lights  - making headlines in most of the British tabloids.

It’s usually the pub’s springtime appearance that gathers column inches and attracts the camera-wielding tourists," Richards writes.

"The Churchill allocates a reported £25,000 a year to decorating its exterior in blossoming flowers bursting from window boxes and hanging baskets and draped from the many tiers of the handsome building."

"What is whimsical though is the interior design," she adds. "It’s a collector’s wet dream, with pots, pans, clocks, medals, Airfix models, wartime memorabilia and Churchill emblems fixed to the walls or swinging from the rafters."

Advertisement

The pub also serves great Thai food.

The Harp - a real-ale pub

Flowing real ales were introduced by The Harp's late landlady Bridget Binnie Walsh.

Close to Trafalgar Square, the pub was the first London venue to be crowned Pub of the Year by CAMRA.

"Up until 1995 the pub had been known as The Welsh Harp, but when Irish Binnie took over, that was the first thing to change," Richards writes.

"The stained-glass harps on the windows remained though, with pretty hanging baskets also marking the entrance. Inside, it’s standing room only, with a shelf to park your pint running parallel with the bar."

Bridget Walsh took over the freehold of the pub in 2009, eventually selling to Fuller’s Brewery for a £7million before she passed away in 2015.

Advertisement

The Good Mixer - Music history in Camden

This norht London pub makes this list thanks to Tipperary landlord Michael Hurley, who took over the lease in 1985.

"Imagine a pub frozen in time since the ’70s (minus the cigarette smoke) with a formula of blokes, beer and pool," Richards writes.

"Two tables across two rooms are in demand, and a bar topped with sodden beer mats serves pints and Jägerbombs. The rest is fairly no frills: Irish road signs and a Winehouse print typical to Camden on the walls, and bench seating
looking in on the action."

Madness, Mark Knopfler, the late Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty and Blur are just some of those who have graced this music-lovers venue.

There are 13 varieties of poitín at The Sun Tavern
Advertisement

The Sun Tavern - London's poitín port of call

Poitín fans should look no further than The Sun in Tavern Bethnal Green.

Described as a place of 'Irish mischief and misdemeanours' this pub stocks the biggest collection of poitín, 13 varoties in total, in the city.

Richards says: "The Sun Tavern educates poitín virgins with regular tastings and you can try it by the glass or in cocktails.

"If that’s a little left field for your tastes, the bar does hard liquor in the form of whisky at knocked-down prices on Whisky Wednesdays."

Some of the bar's original features from its 1851 beginnings were restored as part of a 2014 revamp.

And the toilets are a must-visit.

Advertisement

Richards writes: "Worried about your state after several rounds of poitín in the dark? The bar’s toilets play soothing whale noises and a cardboard sign in lieu of a mirror reassuringly states: ‘You look fine’.

"That Irish sense of humour should get you every time."