At 10.45 on Friday, November 17th, the Clongowes Trad Group left the grounds of the school, buzzing with excitement in the proudly proclaimed ‘Trad Bus’. Mrs Heslin came prepared for the ravenous group we were, supplying us with snacks that were well needed by all. The chocolate was a great distraction from the cold November morning! At 12.15, we arrived at the the oldest pub in the country! (Although some questioned the truth of the claim seeing as how modern it looked!) A thoroughbred Dubliner, I took in the Athlone air with as much caution as everyone should, and we entered Seán’s Bar.
We were greeted warmly by the owner of the bar, Timmy, who immediately offered us coke and red lemonade! We started off playing a set of jigs – ‘Hartigan’s’ and ‘The Haunted House’ – seated by the fireplace, cozy and warm. After playing a few tunes, Timmy gave us a brief history of the place. It turns out that every one of the owners since the 900s has been recorded, and some of the walls are the original walls built over a millennium ago! What’s more, Seán’s Bar is said to be the oldest pub still functioning in the entire world!
As we continued playing, a group of American tourists entered the pub, experiencing the ultimate cliché depiction of Ireland. The atmosphere was homely and comfortable and we flooded the air with jigs and reels, entertaining all present to witness our performance. Taking a break, the generous Timmy offered us a delicious lunch made up of what can only be described as the best sandwiches in the world. They were quite arguably the best part of the trip, but of course, nothing can beat our usual finishing set – ‘Drowsy Maggie’ and ‘The Glass of Beer’!
We played our hearts out to the point where we were hardly able to keep up with ourselves. The sure sign of a good Trad sesh! Then, – sadly – it was time for us to depart from our most generous host, back to school. It was a wonderful afternoon, and we are all very thankful to Timmy for having us play in his pub, to Messrs Shane Heslin and Noel Mason for accompanying us and to the incredible Mrs Heslin for organising an amazing day out, and for the bus snacks!
Pictured above are:
Back: John Maher, Mr Shane Heslin, Rory MacGabhann, Rory Morrin
Front: Fred Sargaison, Seán Brogan, Seán O’Grady, Robbie Savage, Gearóid Ryan, Ms Catherine Heslin, Patrick Smith, Mr Noel Mason, Aaron Clarke, Brian Gaffney