France has its Eiffel Tower, the U.S. its Statue of Liberty, but arguably the most iconic attraction in Ireland is that cathedral of conviviality, the Irish pub. The unique thing that this Irish institution has is that, unlike the others, it’s exportable, if you don’t count plaster-of-Paris imitations of Lady Liberty and the Eiffel Tower that really don’t do it for anyone.
Since Irish pubs have found their way to all corners of the globe, I thought it might be helpful to provide a guide to some of the members of the genre in various countries. I won’t even bother talking about the U.S. or Australia, where you’ll have no difficulty finding an Irish emporium in a ten-minute walk in most cities. But Irish pubs have sprung up in many countries without large Irish populations as well, and following are some fine examples.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – A country that calls itself “truly Asia” has one of the warmest Irish pubs in the globe, Delaney’s in Kuala Lumpur, located in the Federal Hotel. When I visited, a singer of mostly East Indian extraction named Sheila Isaac (her grandfather was Jewish) sang Irish ballads in a perfect brogue. At the bar you can chat about the experience of living abroad with Irish and Scottish ex-pats, who are mostly in the oil business. There are other Irish pubs in KL, including Finnegan’s which is more well-known. But if you find Delany’s, just a few blocks from the Shangri-La Hotel, you need go no further.
Beijing, China – known as Beijing’s first Irish pub, Paddy O’Shea’s, in the Dong Cheng District near the New World Courtyard Marriott, has been serving up Guinness to Irish ex-pats doing business in Beijing for many years.
Manila, The Philippines – Almost making up for the demise of The Craic, which was a victim of urban redevelopment, are Irish pubs that have three of Metro Manila’s busiest sections covered. Murphy’s serves an Irish ex-pat clientele in Makati, which is Manila’s financial district; Mulligan’s Authentic Irish Pub and Restaurant holds sway in the Paranaque, where the international airport is located; and Molly Malone’s keeps the fires burning in Ermita, Manila’s entertainment district.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The city is more famous for other forms of entertainment, but you’ll find a traditional Irish welcome and, even a session of Irish music, at Mulligan’s. There’s no “pub grub” here, but as the owner slyly states, there’s hundreds of good restaurants within walking (crawling?) distance. There are actually dozens of Irish pubs in the Netherlands, but Mulligan’s, celebrating its 25th year, claims to be the oldest. And why would ye argue?
Zurich, Switzerland – There are more than a dozen Irish pubs in Switzerland’s financial capital. Probably the most famous is the James Joyce Pub, paying tribute to the immortal Irish writer who spent much of his self-imposed exile in Zurich and is buried there. The interior of the pub was shipped from Dublin to replicate a Joycean atmosphere.
Barcelona, Spain – There are reportedly some 20 Irish pubs in Barcelona, not surprising considering the city’s reputation for nightlife. An attractive pub in a quiet section is Paddy’s Lane, a small edition with an outdoor patio in the city’s Barri Gothic quarter. A lively place just off Barcelona’s rollicking Las Ramblas is Flaherty’s.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil – If you’re planning to attend the Olympics in Rio in 2016, sure an’ ye should have a pub available for savoring the day’s events. One of the most popular in Rio is Shenanigans. Enough said.