“I don’t think I was ever in Newcastle West when there was sunshine,” the Young Commando said as our pubmobile arrived in the south-west Limerick town.
“Not only is it always raining, but the wind would blow you away too,” he continued moaning.
Our designated driver said he would try to find parking on N21 main road as he has never had much luck finding a parking spot in the town centre.
As we walked back towards the town we passed the roaring rapids of the River Arra at the foot of Desmond Castle.
It was very wet and windy and our travelling party was desperate for shelter and pints of Guinness.
It was relatively busy when we called and we were greeted by a blonde barmaid who was working alone and keeping the show on the road.
The Old Commando was getting the first round in while the rest of us looked for seating.
There are a variety of options available on draught such as Rockshore, Fosters, Orchard Thieves and Coors but, at €4.70 for a pint, Guinness was all our troops were looking for.
There was a mixed clientele ranging from young to middle-aged and one grey-haired gentleman at the counter had a little dog with him.
There is plenty of seating throughout the pub and the brown leather bench seating all appeared to be in very good condition.
The bar is dimly lit with a few down-lighters and lamps located in different sections and there is a lovely solid-fuel stove located near the rear of the premises.
We counted three TVs plus a TV dedicated to betting odds, and there is also a pool table in a separate section where there was two young female customers playing for the duration of our stay.
The Young Commando was keen to challenge them to a few games but he opted against it in the end when he realised they were a lot better than him.
A framed Limerick jersey hangs proudly beside the counter and the locals we spoke to were more than confident that this current crop of Limerick Gaels could write more history and even win the first ever hurling ‘five in a row’.
“The best team ever,” one local said to the Old Commando. “They’re unstoppable” he continued.
“Ah sure anyone can do five in a row these days,” the Old Commando jokingly replied.
“It’s six in a row if you want to be up there with the greats,” he added gleefully.
Unsurprisingly, a photo of the great Limerick side of 2018 is also on display, but the local rugby team are also prominently featured too.
We used the toilets located upstairs and we could only describe them as pristine.
There are two cubicles, three urinals, two sinks, a pleasant odour and they were spotlessly clean — a credit to whoever cleans and maintains them.
As we sat around chatting and yapping and sinking pints of the black stuff, the Old Commando observed that this pub is something of a hidden gem.
While locals will be well aware of it, of course, passersby travelling along the N21 completely bypass the town centre itself and therefore miss out on the chance to visit The Central Bar, which is a terrible shame.
We loved our time here and it’s certainly one of the more memorable pubs we’ve visited in 2022.
Keep up the good work and Pub Spy will be back some day.
Rating: Four pints out of Five
One for the road…
Dan Cronin Newcastle West
THIS wasn’t our first visit to Cronin’s bar in Newcastle West and the Old Commando assures us it won’t be our last.
The cosy front bar is somewhere he could envisage spending a lot of his time if he were a local, perched in front of the large solid-fuel stove and enjoying the nags on TV.
We were served as soon as we arrived by a lovely young barmaid named Donna who was a natural with customers and made them feel at home.
It was reasonably busy during our stay but the bar was very clean, the shelves were all well stocked, the tiled floor was very clean and the blue bench seating was in very good condition.
We sent the Young Commando to inspect the toilets and he told us they were extremely tight for space and a toilet seat was required in the cubicle, but he couldn’t fault their cleanliness.
We had an enjoyable few pints served by a very welcoming barmaid and in the company of some friendly locals.
Rating: Four pints out of Five