In the bustling town of Athlone in Ireland, there is a pub called Seán’s Bar and it holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest pub in Europe. It is Ireland’s oldest pub and is recorded to be dated back as far as AD 900. It is pretty incredible that a business has survived this long, especially in Europe where the traditions of passing down a business to a family member are not as strong. Most of the oldest businesses in the world are located in Japan where the culture of passing down and heritage is still very strong.
It is thought the settlement around the pub was originally constructed by Luain, who was an innkeeper who helped people cross the dangerous waters of the ancient ford of Athlone. Athlone comes from the Irish word Atha Luain which actually means “The Ford Of Luain.”
The bar is located on 13 Main Street, on the west bank of the River Shannon, in fact, it was actually originally called Luain’s Inn but these days it is simply known as “Sean’s.”
Incredibly, the bar has been able to keep its own records of owners during the whole time of its inception. Each owner has an entry, even Boy George a famous celebrity who owned the pub for a little time during 1987. Originally the walls of the bar were made out of wicker and wattle, old materials used during the medieval ages for construction. Pretty amazing to think it stood strong for thousands of years, in 1970 it was renovated to bring it more in line with modern times.
Hundreds of old coins have been found in the pub, some that were actually created by the landlords themselves as a way to barter with their customers. Most of the coins are now displayed in a National Museum and the ancient walls are also found there. Which really hits home the old saying, if walls could talk?