A couple of weeks ago, around Halloween, I decided that a night away from the madness was required. When looking for places to go, we were looking for places within a couple of hours drive from our house. So we wouldn’t be all day travelling to our destination. But also we wanted to go somewhere we’ve not been, either in ages, or at all.
Carrick on Shannon, is a hugely popular town on the River Shannon, during the summer it must be a throng of activity, with pleasurecraft floating up and down that magnificent waterway. A dull and wet Saturday in November saw us visit after the bank holiday. It may have been horrible out but I knew we’d get a warm welcome once we made it to The Oarsman.
The Oarsman, is a family run business by brother Ronan and Conor Maher, who have ran it since 2002. They’re the seventh generation of the family to work in the hospitality industry and it tells. The Oarsman had long been on my radar since I started following them on twitter, a pub in Carrick on Shannon, with great food and great beer. Marvelous. They’ve not only been on my radar, they were also included in the 2015 Michelin “Eating out in Pubs Guide UK & Ireland” The only entry from Leitrim, but one of 34 on the Island of Ireland. The standard of our gastropubs is only increasing year on year and this has been noted by the editors of the Michelin Guide.
Once we’d got our bearings and visited one or two other establishments we made our way over to the Oarsman. Once we walked through the door we were very impressed by the bar area, noting that the only mainstream beers were Guinness & Heineken, but then once we took a seat at the bar, the friendliness and professionalism of the bar staff was clear to see. Conor came over and said “Hi” and we had a chat about the industry, their recent accolade and what would he credit with their success. I’m not going to give away his formula, but it’s clear to see the concentration on local quality produce for the food, an expansive wine and beer menu have done a huge amount to enhance the reputation of this Gastro pub. When I counted, they had 10 different draft beers excluding the mainstream products. They are a kean supporter of local brewery Carrig Brewing based in Drumshambo. Pouring three of their beers on tap, as well as some more well known faces, like McGargles, Brú Brewery and 8 Degrees Brewing.
if you want an informal sit down meal in the pub, there is a nice bar menu, but upstairs is a full service restaurant. However they were more than happy to bring you down a main course from the restaurant menu if you didn’t want to leave the comfort of the bar. We stuck to one or two of the bar food menu items, and they were incredibly tasty. Not only that they used their range of beers in the cooking, as ingredients and marinades. Great to see. The presentation of some of the plates that wafted past me was immaculate and the food looked amazing. It has just given me more of an incentive to return, as well as the invite of fishing on the river with Conor! The prices I found were very reasonable.
If you are ever in this part of the world and looking for a great Gastro Pub which has a great range of beers, many of them local Irish beers, and seasonal freshly cooked food. Look no further than The Oarsman. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and their website is www.theoarsman.com.