Cork bar named amongst the hidden gems in Europe thanks to writer’s passionate tribute

Cork bar named amongst the hidden gems in Europe thanks to writer’s passionate tribute

A writer based in Cork has paid tribute to his favourite bar in town and his words have seen it publicised ion one of Britain’s leading newspapers.

Philip Watson submitted his article about Coughlan’s, a bar located in Cork’s south inner city, to a competition ran by the Guardian newspaper.

Cork bar named amongst the hidden gems in Europe thanks to writer’s passionate tribute

The Guardian asked writers from all 27 European Union countries to submit a piece of writing about a place they consider best evokes the spirit of their nation.

Watson wrote the following article about Couglan’s, and was selected as the winner for Ireland.

“It’s fair to say that a few years ago Douglas Street, in Cork’s south inner city, an area blighted by the ill effects of anti-social behaviour, did not have the best of reputations. Walk along it today, however, and the historic thoroughfare, just five minutes from the city centre, has significantly been transformed.

“At the western end is the oasis of Nano Nagle Place, a former convent that in 2017 was converted into a complex that celebrates the extraordinary life of the eponymous 18th-century pioneer of Catholic education. There is a museum, a garden and a “sustainable foods cafe”, the Good Day Deli, in an airy modern glass pavilion.

“At the eastern edge is the primary engine of the area’s positive change: Coughlan’s. An almost 200-year-old “backstreet old man’s bar” taken over by musician and creative force Edel Curtin in 2012, Coughlan’s – which with pure Cork perverseness is pronounced “CAW-lans” – has since become the award-winning best music venue in the country.

“The intimate listening room in the formerly unloved lounge bar has a total capacity of no more than 65 seated, and yet Coughlan’s has managed to attract star American singer-songwriters Anaïs Mitchell, Ryley Walker and Sarah Jarosz, and leading Irish musicians such as Lisa O’Neill, Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan and Mick Flannery.

“It’s like a major venue in a music-savvy friend’s sitting room, with the added bonus of – so Coughlan’s claims, and with some justification – the best pint of stout in Cork.”
Philip Watson

Mr Watson is clearly passionate about Coughlan’s pub, and the surrounding area. His words have seen it listed alongside various other hidden gems to be found throughout Europe, as put forward by writers from their respective countries.

Some of the other sites to make the list were Wuppertal Schwebebahn – a unique suspension railway system in Wuppertal, Bio Oko cinema – Prague’s coolest cinema, and Kukkola – the unofficial sauna capital of Sweden.

You can read the Guardian’s list in full by visiting

Join our community