It really was just like being at home earlier today as I ventured along to Biddy’s O’Barnes on Barnesmore Gap, near Donegal Town. It’s a road I travel frequently and continually say I must stop off in Biddys, but alas it wasn’t until today that I finally made the trip. So a little work was involved, but that’s irrelevant when one considers the welcome one got on arrival at the pub.
Now owned by Aaron Slevin and Texas born wife Megan, this really is a little haven to visit.
Famous for it’s Stag and Hen party stopovers, this bar is so much more. With a simple menu of soup and a roll, a selection of sandwiches and snacks, it’s just like Granny’s parlour used to be – warm fire’s a burning, kettle on the boil, and a story always ready to be told. Such is Biddy’s O’Barnes bar. Today they also had shamrock cookies home made for the kids and bacon and cabbage for the adults. These little touches didn’t go unnoticed.
Megan welcomed both myself and husband today and I even got the ‘grand tour’ of the building. And yes, I fell in love with the quaintness, quirkiness and homeliness of it.
The pint of Guinness was pretty awesome too. And on St. Patrick’s Day it somehow tasted just perfect!
Biddy’s is filled with stories. Each nook and cranny has a story all by itself. Whilst walking about with Megan earlier today, I met a number of local folk: some staff, some just neighbours who pop in. And everyone had something lovely to tell me. One young man was even explaining why a ‘three legged stool’ is more balancing that a ‘four legged stool’. And it made sense. Even on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s something new to be learned.
Biddy’s O’Barnes was the first pub in Donegal to get it’s licence in 1903, and indeed one of the first to get such in Ireland.
Although owned by the O’Callaghan family from the 1800’s right through until 1990, it is now in the most capable hands of The Slevins. This young couple have been at the helm now since November 2015 and are very much at home here.
Megan and Aaron have a friendly welcome for everyone who comes through the door. As I spent two hours there this afternoon, I was in awe at how in that short time, they welcomed a large group on way to Bundoran for the weekend, a hen party and then a wedding party. Nothing was too much for these two folk and their staff. The staff and the Slevins are clearly one big happy family. It oozes from them that they are not only a business but very much a family at heart. Everyone who visits becomes part of that family. It was just another day at the ‘Inn’ and although it was raining heavy outside, it really was shining in Biddy’s.
As I left Biddy’s O’Barnes this afternoon, it was with a much lighter step: I had finally visited the pub I had been planning to for most of 20 years. But today I was glad I left it this long. Today I met the modern day owners. The couple who are destined to keep the character, the quirkiness of this special place, and yet somehow it is also very much in the contemporary world.
Although a little off the Wild Atlantic Way drive, it is in fact on the road that provides a shortcut to Inishowen should you want to take a little detour en route. Nestled between Croaghconnelagh and Croaghonagh mountains, this really is an idyllic spot for a ‘pit stop’ for lunch, afternoon snack, or even a pint or two.
Next time you’re on the road through Barnesmore Gap, take an hour and pop into Biddy’s. You really won’t regret it. I’m already looking forward to my next visit, and it certainly won’t be too long before I return.