My friend and I decided to explore the touristy things in Nenagh today. It all started pretty well with the Google search filling us with hopes of a castle visit, Gaol visit and potentially a few more interesting buildings along the way.
Think about the last time you heard a tourist tell you that Nenagh was on their must see list. You probably never heard that and today I discovered why. Don’t take me wrong, there are plenty of things to see in Nenagh but only is you get there on a specific time and day.
There’s no way anyone can explore a town without a cup of coffee so first stop was Cafe Q. The place was packed and the lady who gave us her table assured us that this was the best coffee in town. It was pretty delicious as was the Danish. The place had a good atmosphere and everyone was happy out drinking their coffees and nibbling on the tasty treats.
Refueled, we headed out the door and off down the street confidant that we could find a castle ourselves. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have that many geographical skills so we asked a nice young lady for directions. She warned us that it was “a long walk” but gave us stellar directions and a whole five minutes later we arrived at the castle. It was only 3.45pm but the gate was closed and a sign told us that it was “Closed for lunch” but also only open between 2pm and 3pm. Really? 2pm and 3pm? What kind of a castle is this??? What kind of tourists know to show up between 2 and 3 if they want to see it? We took this sad looking photo from the gate.
The Courthouse looks like something straight out of Hunger Games. A spectacular building which was also closed but I’m not sure if it would even be accessible anyway.
The church was potentially the most spectacular. As a bonus, it was open. We took a quick look inside and the only thing missing was a short history.
We didn’t bother going to Nenagh Gaol because the website states opening hours as 10pm to 4pm Monday to Friday. I believe it is actually referred to as “Nenagh Heritage Centre”
So what did we learn?
If you’re a tourist at the weekend, you’re all out of luck and any other day is potentially hit and miss. If you do venture into the town, be sure to go between the hours of 10am and 4pm and especially between 2pm and 3pm. The only thing I can actually guarantee is a decent cup of coffee in Cafe Q.
I’m sure there were many punters who almost fell off their bar stools to read that Jim of the Mills won the Irish Times Pub of the Year 2015. If there is an establishment that uses its USP to its full advantage, it’s Jim of the Mills. For anyone who hasn’t yet had the truly unique experience of visiting this bar, you can read the Times review here and the Irish Central article here.
To describe the place as a pub is a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s like 3 rooms in the house that are dedicated to the the craic. I describe them as rooms because this place is literally a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere somewhere close to Upperchurch in Tipperary. Patrons are thirsty because they were all night trying to find the establishment in the first place. You deserve a drink for finding the house. I’ve been several times and even still I don’t think I could make it alone. If you didn’t know what it was, it would be reasonable to assume that the rows of cars outside the house were for a station mass or something similar.
Upon arrival, there are people literally spilling out of the bar. There’s that uniquely Irish feel the minute you walk in. The bar is small enough and the family are flat out serving drinks. The money goes into a till that is so old, it’s almost a national treasure. There are the lucky few who got seats at the bar providing jokes for the waiting punters.Everyone knows everyone and even if they don’t know you when you arrive, they’ll know loads about you by the time you leave!
The craic is mighty, of that there is little doubt. In fact, the craic is so great that they have to contain it to Thursday nights, the only night the bar opens. As a result, anyone who is anyone flocks there, as much for the craic as for the weekly session. There are people playing instruments in every corner of the two inner rooms. The place is always jammers so the last time we played there, I sat in the window. Although you’d nearly melt beside the open fire, there is something so authentic as enjoying a pint while listening to great music, beside the turf fire in the middle of winter.
And the people! I’ve never met such interesting characters in my life. There’s always someone to talk to. I’ve never left without a good story or two. Dotted though the night are the occasional ssshhhhes as people try to listen to a song or story. I’ve also never left hungry. Believe it or not, you get fed! Sometimes it’s cake and sometimes sandwiches but whatever it is, you are always taken care of.
One part of me wants to call the people in Lonely Planet and tell them to add this place to their Tipperary section and the other part of me wants to keep it hidden. Like so many great places in Ireland, over exposure ruins what made them so great to begin with so perhaps we should keep Jim of the Mills to ourselves for another while. It’s hugely exciting that they won the Times Pub of the Year 2015. They are doing everything right and will hopefully continue to do so long into the future.