Thursday 22 August 2019

World famous Airbnb traditional Irish pub - which went viral - goes up for sale

Owners with love of rural living sought for converted pub

Current owners Dave and Erron Slingsby inside Conroy's Old Bar in Aglish. Photo. Bryan Meade
Current owners Dave and Erron Slingsby inside Conroy's Old Bar in Aglish. Photo. Bryan Meade
Conroy's Old Bar & House in Aglish, Co Tipperary
The bar area
The kitchen/dining area in the main house
An open fire in the living room of the main house
The sign above the door
Bottles (now filled with coloured water) line the walls of the traditional rural pub. Photo: Bryan Meade
The dartboard in the pub

Róisín Carabine

When Erron and Dave Slingsby first listed their home, a converted rural pub in Co Tipperary, for rent on Airbnb back in 2012 as "the world's first self-catering pub" they could never have predicted the response. Within a few months their listing had gone viral across the globe, racking up thousands of hits from travellers all over the world and garnering international media attention from newspapers, television, radio and even a film crew.

The conversion of Conroy's Old Bar in Aglish, just outside Roscrea from public house to private home/internationally renowned Airbnb wasn't the result of some business plan. Far from it; its meteoric rise to global stardom has been as much accidental as it is incidental.

"We never really planned it, it just happened. We were renovating the house next to it, and used the pub as a make-do kitchen. We didn't even intend to buy it," says Erron.

The couple from Lincolnshire in England first fell in love with rural Ireland on their honeymoon and 15 years ago they moved to Co Clare.

Current owners Dave and Erron Slingsby inside Conroy's Old Bar in Aglish. Photo. Bryan Meade
Current owners Dave and Erron Slingsby inside Conroy's Old Bar in Aglish. Photo. Bryan Meade

"We saw the bar for sale in an auctioneer's' window in Nenagh. Dave drove by the property and saw the owner outside and asked if we could look around.

"The next thing he was making an offer. It was raining outside," remembers Erron. "Dave said, 'if you can love a property in the rain, you can love it any time.'"

And so they have for the last 13 years.

The bar which hasn't sold a drop of alcohol commercially since last orders were called in 2003, is every inch the quintessential traditional rural Irish pub. Upholstered stools wait along a counter of polished mahogany, beer and whisky bottles (now filled with coloured water) line the shelves, there's Liscannor flagstones on the floor, an open fire, pumps and optics. Old drinks' promo pictures hang on the wall, along with a dart board and other pub memorabilia.

For a long time it didn't always look this good. Dave has done much to ensure the pub has retained its aesthetic delight, including salvaging the original till and Guinness fridge and restoring its character features back to former glory. Then came the Airbnb conversion.

He painted over the tobacco-stained walls, emptied the cellar and squeezed in a double bed beneath the old barrel stone arch and put another bedroom in the snug. He added a shower room, a kitchen and transformed the former lounge into a living room.

The bar area
The bar area

The couple never intended the pub to be a money maker. In the beginning they let it out to family and friends but as it became more popular they began renting it to tourists and quickly carved out a niche for themselves in Ireland's unusual accommodation market.

"We've had visitors from all over the world stay, including guests from Antarctica who worked on the ice shelf there. We had them from New Zealand, Australia, Iraq and Hawaii," says Erron. "It's been a fun and hugely enjoyable experience that's added a whole new dimension to our lives."

Now the couple are looking for a new experience and a new property project to put their stamp on and so have reluctantly decided to put the world famous Airbnb pub up for sale.They say the property will appeal to those "looking for a home with a difference, a unique piece of Irish history that can have a nice little year round income."

"We never ran it as a real business so the bookings are no reflection of its capability as a holiday let but more a reflection of our choice of how to run it in order to fit in with our daily lives," says Erron.

To enable the pub to continue running as a business, should new owners wish, the couple are willing to negotiate the sale of the fixtures and fittings, minus a few sentimental belongings, and the website for an extra fee.

Although it also offers plenty of opportunity to get stuck inn, and could easily convert back into a working pub with minimum effort. However it will require a licence.

The kitchen/dining area in the main house
The kitchen/dining area in the main house

While there's no denying its uniqueness, it's the added extras that come included with the €260,000 price tag that are sure to make this one-of-a-kind property even more appealing to potential buyers.

Aside from the more usual additions such as off-street parking, private barbecue area and south facing enclosed rear garden, the pub also comes with two stone workshops, and the ruins of another pub, fondly referred to as the Old Forge Bar which "wouldn't be a major job to reinstate" according to the couple.

The real surprise however, is the adjoining five-bed house that's been completely renovated and beautifully refurbished in a charming country cottage style in keeping with its rural setting. It too has its own workshop in what was the former village shop, which could be used to provide additional revenue or incorporated back into the main house. Due to its substantial size, the house also has potential to be converted into a charming B&B and could easily capitalise on passing trade from cyclists - the area is part of the North Tipperary Cycle Route - and walkers. Ireland's longest walking trail, the O'Sullivan Beara Walk passes right through the village. At present the bar is the only accommodation in the area for miles.

Whatever is to become of the place, Conroy's Old Bar needs an owner with imagination, stamina and a definite love of rural living. Aglish is as rural as its gets in these parts with the nearest shop four miles away and the nearest restaurant six miles. Eccentricity, while not a requirement, would also help.

"It's with a heavy heart we are leaving this place. I know I'll shed a tear or two when we turn the key in the lock for the last time but we have to let someone else take it on to the next level," says Erron.

Viewing is strictly by appointment only.

Conroy's Old Bar & House,

Aglish, Roscrea, Co Tipperary

Asking price: €260,000

Agent: DNG Michael Gilmartin, (067) 31569

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