J O’Connell

J O’Connell, Skryne, Co Meath: Simple pleasures in pub life

Visited Sunday 3rd Jan 2016

O’Connell’s is a small rural pub, in the hollow of a road beside an ancient church in Skryne, County Meath. It is a pub which has an honesty about it that is the special preserve of traditional Irish establishments where the primary concern is the coming together of people. So no grandeur here, just the basic necessities. The bar is subdivided into two sections with an open fire at one end. An old, smooth church pew is positioned opposite the bar, close enough to give a sense that we are all here together, we shuttle up and down along it to make way as people come and go. A small sash window reminds us that there is life going on outside, but while we are here, that seems of little importance.

4pm Opening Time!

Among the embellishments on the walls, two framed photographs take pride of place. One of Mary O’Connell who lived her married life here and ran the bar until her death at the age of 90 in 2012. Another features the exterior of O’Connell’s pub, dated 1850 – and precious little appears to have changed since then. It’s Christmas time, so fairy lights and holly sprigs adorn the narrow shelves which are filled with bottles and glasses. The floor is mostly concrete, everything else, including the ceiling, is clad in tongue ’n groove, which is painted powder pink to elbow height and cream above. Two ancient yellow strip lights hang from the ceiling – the only modern convenience which has been permitted in this space, where there is no television, no radio, not even a cash register to disturb the peace.

OConnells 1850
O’Connell’s Circa 1850

The pub appears to cater for equal numbers of locals and visitors. Anyway, we get the impression that anyone would be welcome here. My companion ponders aloud “sure a farmer could amble in here for a drink covered in cow shite and nobody would mind” and I solemnly nod in agreement.

As O’Connnell’s is within shouting distance of the tourist attraction of the Hill of Tara and the ancient burial chambers at Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange are only a little further away,  I can imagine it getting busy here in the Summer months. If you are visiting this part of the world I would make a point of dropping by.

Directions: Heading in the direction of Skryne from Tara, take a left turn at Swan’s Pub, a short way up that road take the first left onto a winding country road. After about a mile you will reach a pub called Fox’s. O’Connell’s is behind Fox’s.

Music: Piano in the parlour area, ad hoc music sessions

Nearby: Hill of Tara. Newgrange, Knowth & Dowth

Note: Bring cash, cards not accepted

J O’Connell’s Pub, Skryne Hill, Co Meath

Ph: +353 46 902 5122

No website

Explore Justine’s Great Pubs of Ireland – Days for the High Stool map

O’Connell’s Bar
OConells Fire 2
Pink fireplace
Back parlour
Front parlour
Skryne Church  (15c), beside O’Connell’s
History of Skryne Church
Click on the map to explore Justine’s Great Pubs of Ireland – Days for the High Stool, full listing.




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