The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn – Fisherstown
Ask Sean Ward, owner of the Fisherman’s Thatched Inn, where to find his pub and he’ll tell you “it’s in the middle of nowhere…and at the centre of everything”. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Firstly, it really is in the back of beyond, along one of those rural country roads that criss-cross the midlands of Ireland. Secondly, it’s one of those dying breeds of truly rural Irish pubs – a thatched pub dating back to the 1600’s where local people get together for everything and anything - birthday parties, political get-togethers, after a day’s fishing or for a little set dancing..
So why did we include the Fisherman’s Thatch Inn on the Whiskey Trail? Well, we fell in love with the place because… it’s a little mad. Especially the back room. Though a million miles from Craggy Island, it's the kind of pub Father Ted would have frequented (probably for another bash at Ireland’s Eurovision song entry). The décor is, how can we say it, eclectic… (a testimony to Sean’s passion for attending auctions).
Though in the middle of nowhere, the road on which the Inn is located actually used to be the main highway between Tara (home to the High Kings of Ireland) and Cashel. It is actually recorded that St. Patrick himself travelled this road in 450 A.D. We can’t actually say that he called in to the Fisherman’s Thatched Inn, but do ask Sean to show you his statue of St. Patrick – which has been decorated by Sean to uniquely testify to the fact that Irish monks are credited with having invented Uisce Beatha – the Irish water of life and origin of our whiskey.
The Fisherman’s Thatch is also located next to the Grand Canal, which served as the main means of transport for Cassidy’s whiskey in the 19th century. As most of Cassidy’s whiskey production was destined for the local market, there is no doubt whatsoever that this was the whiskey of choice in the Fisherman’s Thatch right up until the mid 1920’s.
Sean scores quite highly too with his choice of whiskeys today. He has about 40 different whiskeys, including Scotch and Japanese. What we recommend most however is Sean’s unique cocktail selection – no fancy Manhattan cocktails here – house favourites are the Irish Car Bomb and the Barack Obama (seriously good!). He also does a George Bush, which is as disgusting a concoction as Sean could think of!
The Fisherman’s Thatch is the place to spend the night – it doesn’t open until 6-7pm weekdays, 2pm on a Saturday or 12.30pm on a Sunday. Tuesday nights is usually traditional music night, but with this pub, why wait until Tuesday? Plan to get a taxi home (it’s 12 miles from Portlaoise and 4 miles from Monasterevin), because on a good night, you’ll get to find out what the Irish mean when they say the craic is mighty..! The pub from the outside is deceptively small - once inside, be prepared to navigate at various stages of the evenig through the main bar, Fisherman's bar, mad party/disco room and billiards room.
And if you still need persuading to call into the Fisherman's Thatch, check out the Locklin's Bar video by Michael English. It might be called Locklins Bar, but it was filmed in the Fisherman's Thatch!
Oh, last word of warning: when I asked Sean if he got many tourists visiting he just said: “in some pubs the locals are just there to entertain the tourists. Here the tourists entertain the locals”… you have been warned!
The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn - Fisherstown, Co. Laois
Tel.: +353 (0)57 8626488
(Drive through Monasterevan and continue on the R445 heading towards Portlaoise. After about 2.5 miles there is an old thatched cottage on the right and an old pub with a Phoenix sign on the left. Take this left road (the L3932). Continue along this road for 2 miles and the Fisherman’s Thatch Inn is on your right.