We count down the 12 Days to Christmas, why not the 17 Days to St. Patrick’s Day? If there’s one holiday that should be a season of cheer, it’s this one, we say. Here’s Edition 2 of the Vacay.ca St. Patrick’s Day in Canada Countdown — where we name 17 of the best Irish bars in the land!
Day 2: The Inn of Olde, St. John’s
Story by Candice Walsh
ST. JOHN’S — In historic Quidi Vidi, The Inn of Olde has been alive and kickin’ for 35 years.
While it’s not exactly designated as an Irish pub, it’s probably the one pub in town with a distinct “Newfoundland” personality … and that personality, of course, is strongly influenced by the Irish.
The pub is managed by Linda Hennebury who also happens to be the cook, bartender and waitress. Yes, she’s the only staff member. The pub is literally attached to her house from which Hennebury waits to receive new visitors and friends. It’s her baby, and she loves this place with all her heart.
“Sharing the history and the stories of the past is what I love so much about this place,” says Hennebury, who is a bit of a local legend herself for being the first person to donate to Terry Fox the day he began The Marathon of Hope. She has a license to open until 3 am, but rarely does so, preferring instead to keep the lights on “for as long as people are friendly and the weather is good.”
Accordion and fiddle music constantly play in the background and during winter and spring, a wood-burning stove crackles in the corner.
Forget your troubles very quickly
Linda will serve you a beautiful bowl of hot turkey soup (something that she does upon request; she didn’t want to share the price). There really isn’t a lot of food in this pub because it’s too problematic for one person to get food in and manage it during the colder months. But there’s no shortage of drinks. Forget your troubles very quickly with some good ol’ Irish Whiskey ($5) or Lamb’s Navy Rum ($5).
The Inn of Olde is the perfect embodiment of an Irish bar: a place that is more home than home and the go-to spot when you want to be surrounded by good friends, even if you haven’t met those friends yet.
The entire pub is adorned in memorabilia left behind from patrons visiting from around the world: spoons, postcards, pieces of money, photos, etc. You’ll find endless collections to observe, including countless relics from both Newfoundland and Ireland. A visit here is like being inside a museum.
Plus, the place is just plain quirky — “Happy Birthday” banners are pinned to the wall year-round, and the ladies toilet is inside a closet.
Quote: “Here’s a travel rule: anytime you see a bar with a sign that says ‘stories, beers, and wood burning stoves,’ you go in.” — Robert Reid, Lonely Planet
You know it’s authentically Irish because: You’re family as soon as you enter, and the accents belonging to the older patrons have that unmistakable Irish lilt.
Cost of a pint of Guinness: Irrelevant. You’re next door to the Quidi Vidi Brewery, so buy a Honey Brown instead.
St. Patrick’s Day plans: When I asked Hennebury what to expect on St. Paddy’s Day, I was told “it varies.” Then, in a more sombre tone, she followed up with, “Most of the regulars are dead and gone now anyway.”
The spirit of The Inn of Olde lives on, though, and folks still flock to the pub early in the afternoon on St. Paddy’s Day to get the party started. Bring some friends, a good camera, and your thirst for good local beer.
MORE ABOUT THE INN OF OLDE
Contact info: 67 Quidi Vidi Village Road, St. John’s, NL. 709.576.2223
Directions: Located in historic Quidi Vidi Village, less than a five minute drive from the national historic site Signal Hill.
Hours: Open from noon until “Linda feels it’s time to close.” She will open the bar earlier upon request.