Peter Curtin, third generation owner of this famous tavern, claims that it’s Lisdoonvarna’s only real pub - as the others are all hotel bars or lounge bars. Be that as it may, it dates back to 1865 and is certainly among the oldest in the town - and the most colourful.
Literally, in the case of the gable end which features the work of artist Jim Ricks and would be hard to miss, and metaphorically when it comes to the interior with its deeply ingrained sense of many a long night of pints, music and craic...
Famous for music for over a century, many legendary musicians have played here down the years and the live music held every night in summer (also Friday and Saturdays in winter) attracts locals and visitors alike.
More recent attractions are beer from their own micro-brewery, and good food – notably smoked fish from the family’s other equally famous business, The Burren Smokehouse, which is just down the road, but menus also offer some great traditional hot dishes including bacon & cabbage and (subject of hot debate among foodies) a version of Irish stew that is made with local Burren beef instead of the lamb that most traditionalists would insist is ‘correct’.
Another interesting variation on tradition is based on one of the homeliest and tastiest of potato dishes, colcannon (a useful dish with built-in greens, in the shape of kale or cabbage), and is offered with a choice of sausages or hot smoked salmon.
Desserts (“a must try”) are supplied by Fabiola’s fabulous little bakery in Doolin. It offers a different take on bar food, and it’s worth fitting in a mealtime visit – but do check beforehand as food is only served in summer, and summer has been known to arrive late around here.
The Burren Brewery is a more recent development but, although very small and only in operation since 2011, it produces three beers - Burren Black (stout), Burren Red (ale) and Burren Gold (a lager, and not to be confused with the Ballyvaughan cheese of the same name).
They have gone down a treat and the brewery has achieved fame out of all proportion to its size, due partly to the Slow Food Ireland events which are held annually in the town and spread good news about food and drink like wildfire. But you’ll have to make the trip to Lisdoonvarna to enjoy these beers, as they are only available in the Roadside Tavern.
So, whatever your reason for visiting – music, good food and drink, or all three – you’ll find pleasure in abundance at this historic and hospitable hostelry.