Sean's Bar

Coordinates: 53°25′22″N 7°56′32″W / 53.42267°N 7.94236°W / 53.42267; -7.94236
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Sean's Bar
The façade of Sean's Bar
Restaurant information
Food typeIrish pub
Street address13 Main Street
Coordinates53°25′22″N 7°56′32″W / 53.42267°N 7.94236°W / 53.42267; -7.94236

Sean's Bar is a pub in Athlone, Ireland, notable for its reputed establishment in AD 900,[1][2][3] and claim to being the oldest extant bar in both Ireland and Europe.[1] Other architectural and archaeological records, including the Record of Monuments and Places and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, date the building to the 17th or 18th century.[4][5]

Age and history[edit]

Musicians at Sean's Bar

Archaeological research, reviewed by the National Museum of Ireland, indicates that a pub may have been operating on the site for at least a millennium, with the building possibly being older.[1] Carbon-dated material such as mud, wood and wattle, as well as the presence of tavern tokens (of an unspecified age), now on display in the National Museum of Ireland, have further supported "the legend" of the pub's age.[1] During renovations in the 1970s, it was discovered that a back wall was partly made of wattle and wicker.[6]

Other archaeological surveys indicate that the oldest parts of the building were constructed in or around the 17th century,[7] with some more ancient materials perhaps having been scavenged and reused from elsewhere.[8] The latter includes research, including by John Bradley on behalf of the Office of Public Works and published in the Record of Monuments and Places and by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which suggests that the building dates to c. 1725, while "possibly containing the fabric of earlier buildings".[4][5]

In 2004, Guinness World Records issued a certificate to Sean's Bar as the "oldest pub in Ireland".[1][2][9] The proprietors have claimed to possess a list of "nearly all previous owners" going back centuries,[10][6] potentially to the time of Luan, after whom Athlone town is named.[1][11]

In February 2021 the owners of Sean's Bar, in conjunction with other Irish bar owners, won a landmark court case related to insurance pay-outs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland.[12]

Portrait photo showing wattle wall the is displayed at Sean's Bar
Wattle wall display from previous establishment on the site of Sean's Bar

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f MacEacheran 2019.
  2. ^ a b O'Connor 2018.
  3. ^ O'Connor 2019.
  4. ^ a b National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
  5. ^ a b An Bord Pleanala 2017, p. 33: "WM029-042087- [..] 'Sean's Bar' was originally a two storey high building with thick walls, an additional third storey in brick was added later. Preserved on the premises is a section of wattle partition removed from a first floor wall. This could be of seventeenth century date but it is not securely dated"
  6. ^ a b Daugherty 2011.
  7. ^ Bradley et al. 1985.
  8. ^ An Bord Pleanala 2017, p. 34: "WM029-042086- [..] On the premises of Sean's Bar (WM029-042086-), 13 Main Street, is a late medieval stone built fireplace from a house on an island in Lough Ree"
  9. ^ Fodor's 2019.
  10. ^ Flynn 2018.
  11. ^ Gwynn 1914, p. 250.
  12. ^ O'Faolain 2021.


  • Bradley, John; Halpin, Andrew; King, Heather A. (1985). Urban Archaeological Survey for County Westmeath. Dublin: Office of Public Works.
  • Daugherty, Christi (27 December 2011). Frommer's Ireland (22 ed.). Frommers. p. 493. ISBN 978-1118027653.
  • Flynn, Sean Patrick (22 May 2018). "Pull up a Chair and Have a Drink at the Oldest Bar in Ireland". Archived from the original on 22 May 2018.
  • Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (1914). The Fair Hills of Ireland. Maunsel. p. 250. Joyce thinks that Luan was a franklin, charged with the duty of hospitality, who maintained here a place of lodging, and that the place was called after him, Ath Luain, Luain's Ford
  • MacEacheran, Mike (14 March 2019). "An Irish pub born in the Dark Ages". BBC Travel - Food & Hospitality. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  • O'Connor, Amy (February 2018). "Sean's Bar in Athlone is Ireland's oldest pub - and a bona fide tourist attraction". Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  • O'Connor, Rachael (5 August 2019). "Séan's Bar: Ireland's oldest pub is 1,119 years old and is still going strong". The Irish Post. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  • O'Faolain, Aodhan (5 February 2021). "High Court rules in favour of pubs in FBD Covid closures case". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  • Roughan; O'Donovan, eds. (May 2017). Athlone Pedestrian and Cycleway Bridge - Environmental Impact Statement - Volume 4 (PDF) (Report). An Bord Pleanala.
  • Fodor's Essential Ireland 2020. Fodor's Travel. 2019. ISBN 9781640971714. Sean's Bar styles itself as the world's oldest pub (a claim some cynics dispute, although a framed certificate from Guinness World Records says otherwise)
  • "Sean's Bar/Shines Hairdressers, 11-13 Main Street, Athlone and Bigmeadow, Athlone, Westmeath". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 26 August 2021. Terraced three-bay two-storey former coaching inn, built c.1725, possibly containing the fabric of earlier buildings

External links[edit]