The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn: A gem in the heart of rural Laois
Visited Saturday 31st Oct 2015
This Co Laois gem, located at a rural crossroads near Monasterevin could be easily missed as its off the beaten track, but don’t make that mistake because this pub is rather special. Judging a pub from the outside can be as misleading as judging a book by its cover but in this case the inviting exterior with a traditional thatch, sash windows and garden area to the rear is matched by an equally appealing interior that feels cosy, comfortable and nostalgic. Four of us arrived late afternoon on a beautiful Halloween day to find a great turf fire burning in the hearth, with four small armchairs and a round table positioned in front. It felt like a homecoming, though we’d never set foot in the pub before.
The Fisherman’s is replete with memorabilia, fishing related (no surprises there), along with ceramic ornaments, glassware, old prints in dark wood antique frames and the requisite pendulum clock. The collection of whiskey jugs suspended above the bar is a nod to the pub’s whiskey credentials – it’s on the Whiskey Trail of Ireland and stocks over 100 varieties. Another visual clue is provided by the musical instruments displayed on the walls, a hint at the twice weekly music sessions that are hosted here.
We visited in Autumn, but in the warmer months I can imagine this being an equally appealing place. The rear garden area has plenty of picnic tables for outdoor drinking and there is also a small bright lounge area at the opposite end of the bar to the fireplace with traditional shuttered windows that overlook the garden.
This pub has history built into in its walls, it was first established in the 16c with latter additions to the building in the 18th and 19th centuries. The publican, John Ward, who has been at the helm for the past 20 years, told me that the pub is located on the oldest road in Ireland which St Patrick himself traversed. I believe it’s a road that comes up through the country via Cashel, Co Tipperary and Laois heading towards Dublin and leaves Dublin though my own neighbourhood of Stoneybatter (batter being a derivative of bóthar – meaning “road” in Irish) and heads onwards north-bound to the Neolithic burial chambers at Newgrange which were built 5,000 B.C. (yes – that’s older than they pyramids).
The Fisherman’s has a lot to offer, the building has a backroom with a pool table and a small function room with doors that fold open onto the bar for parties of up to 40 people or so. These rooms have wooden floor boards and reflect the traditional look of the bar area, while being more rough and ready in style.
In my conversation with John he mentioned something in passing about the importance of providing comfortable seats and it struck me that this is a man who has the wellbeing and happiness of his customers at heart, which is surely the sign of a great publican. I promise you, this pub is worth the detour.
Specialities: A “Whiskey Trail of Ireland” pub, over 100 varieties stocked.
Dogs: Welcome “once they settle and don’t bark too much”.
Music: Traditional Irish music session Tuesday’s from 8pm, local musicians Sunday night from 8pm.
Nearby: Visit Emo Court and gardens.
The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn
Pub: +353 57 862 6488