Mulligans Irish Music Bar. Amstel 100, 1017AC Amsterdam. +31(0)20 622 1330

At home abroad

Along the banks of Amsterdam’s Amstel river sits Mulligans Irish bar, a personal favourite of mine. Full of atmosphere, music and great characters, it is something of a cultural meeting place and is as authentic as they come. Think quality traditional music, great Guinness, GAA and local caint.

Mulligans will be open for 27 years this August (2013, ed.) and is rumoured to be the longest serving Irish bar in the Benelux. It was started by Miriam, a bright, Dutch lady with Irish connection and is renowned on the continent for its high quality, live Irish music. This is at the heart of what the pub is about. There are live, traditional sessions every Wednesday to Sunday featuring local musicians and singers, many who are Dutch and accomplished in Irish music. Bands regularly travel from Ireland especially to play here and every Wednesday, the infamous backroom session takes place in the smoking room. An open session, anyone can bring a fiddle or a song and join the sing song – it is a special kind of evening and as good as any back home, full of welcome, smiles and great tunes amidst a sea of pint glasses. Mulligans acts as a watering hole for this community of singers and musicians, and for the punters who come to hear them play.

The pub is full of atmosphere and has a cosy interior – wooden stools and floors and creaky doors, bar staff and regulars full of character, perfect Guinness (which is hard to come by abroad!), the constant playing of a reel in the background, memorabilia built up over the years hanging around the bar. Seán keeps the pints flowing and the craic going behind the bar, and conversation with the staff, locals or travellers passing through is always interesting. Old maps and GAA flags hang amidst posters of Irish pub fronts and photographs of visitors or regular musicians in flow. An old haunt for previous Amsterdam resident Luka Bloom, Mulligans has welcomed Dermot Morgan, Ronnie Drew and Jack Charlton in its days. Seán remembers Charlton was asked to have his photograph taken, then proceeded to do the same with everyone in the place that day.

Mulligans is something of a regular for my friends and I in Amsterdam. It is the meeting point for many a hurling match on a Sunday afternoon and has housed some great weekend sessions of pints and craic, trad music and dancing, and an ocassional after hours sing song. Mulligans is a bar you remember being in and will go back to for any occasion, the type of place that as an Irish person abroad, you get a sense of home and you’re likely to run into someone you know.

On a quiet Monday evening in there, perched at the bar with some Christy Moore playing low, you might even forget where you are for a while.

Sarah Kenny