The Irish Times has pronounced a tiny old pub in Ireland as the best … perhaps “in the world”.
The Jim O’ The Mill has been trading for around two hundred years, in the two-hundred year old farmhouse built by the proprietor’s great-great-grandfather.
It has no signage or anything to reveal it is a pub, and only one beer tap (serving Guinness, of course). But most surprisingly, it is only open Thursday night, although often until 5am.
The owners are Jim and Kae Ryan; two of so many Ryans in the area they each hold cross-generational nicknames. The O’ The Mill Ryans descend from old Jim Ryan – a miller who built the farmhouse and reputedly soon after began the pub as a local meeting place.
By all accounts the old stone public house embodies “the beating heart of Ireland’s culture of music and storytelling” as impromptu live musicians play and sing with Jim and any guest that will join them.
Those playing may be local artists, far flung friends, or any number of Jim’s five daughters, rollicking on the likes of fiddles, guitars, spoons, accordions and bodhrán (traditional Irish) drums. This takes place in the cosy stone ‘session’ room, occupying just four by five metres, with a three-metre open fireplace.
During the First World War soldiers fondly sang ‘it’s a long, long way to Tipperary’, which is where you’ll find Jim O’ The Mill, unmarked on route 503, somewhere between the villages of Ballycahill and Upperchurch in County Tipperary, east of Limmerick.
The Dublin-based Irish Times declared it the best pub, amongst Ireland’s 10,000 or so licensed hotels. The proud publication went on to suggest “It’s the best pub in the world”.
It is apparently the place for pilgrimages in search of the ‘trad’ (traditional Irish music) and ‘craic’ (Gaelic for fun – pronounced “crack”) of the Emerald Isle.
Although the pub holds a seven-day licence, for the rest of the week Jim is a cattle farmer and the couple choose to pack all the trad and craic into one big night.
If you are planning to visit Jim O’ The Mill, directions include heading to Ballycahill, looking for the pub with the thatched roof then keep driving straight for a couple miles … if you reach Upperchurch you’ve gone too far.