West Cork Pub

Iconic Algiers Inn making waves in Baltimore – Irish Examiner

WEST CORK has a few iconic bars with a reputation spreading over the waves — and the Algiers Inn is definitely up there with the best of them, hosting celebs, slaking thirsts and appearing in movies, ads and TV shows.

The exotic-sounding name recalls the famed and infamous sacking of the West Cork harbour village of Baltimore, by Barbary pirates from North Africa, who made off with more than 100 locals, sold into lives of slavery.

This Inn premises dates to 1892, when the rail line came to Baltimore, but today, the Algiers Inn’s patrons are volunteers, tourists, the merely hungry and thirsty, and locals, arriving by boat, bus and car, with an ever-expanding season.

It has been owned for the past quarter century by Kieron Walsh, who took it on about the time his late parents Michael and Ellen Walsh sold up their Elden Hotel in nearby Skibbereen town.

He’s selling for a new business venture, he indicates, and while it’s primarily a bar and restaurant, with apartment, there’s also a five-bed guesthouse attached which hasn’t traded in recent years.

He agrees that Baltimore didn’t go down as much as other Irish holiday spots in the recession, and was one of the first to bounce back.He says the season appears to get longer each year. “There seems to be something happening on every weekend. We had two very busy public holidays in Easter and the June Weekend, and already we’ve had the annual Baltimore Fiddle Fair, followed in May by the Baltimore Wooden Boats Festival, the seafood Taste of Baltimore Festival which this year I feel was the busiest ever,” says Walsh, adding that the Pirate Weekend and the O’Driscoll Clan Gathering are yet to come.

“The season doesn’t seem to tail off here until well into October.” Visitors have included the usual West Cork devoteees, as well as a diverse crowd as varied as Charles Haughey, Patti Smith and band when she played Liss Ard, actor John Savage, and Elbow lead singer and BBC 6 DJ Guy Garvey, who described the Algiers Inn as his “favourite pub, anywhere”, on air.

Also passing through was the likes of Easyjet founder Stelios Ianonu (a brother-in-law of Tony O’Reilly) and family while visiting on a private luxury yacht, while just this week the enormous super-yacht with ‘mystery’ guest on board also berthed for a while in Baltimore — but neither took nor gave any hostages to fortune by dropping in to the Algiers.

While sales brochures have now been done up for the iconic Baltimore bar by estate agent Maurice Cohalan of Cohalan Downing, it’s facade and interiors have featured variously in Bog Quinn’s groundbreaking documentary Atlanteans. It featured on the BBC’s Coast series, and has been used in three TV and cinema advertising campaigns as a location, two for Fáilte Ireland and one for Tullamore Dew.

Finally, the bar was used as location set for the 1998 TV mini-series Mia Mine Forever starring Claudia Cardinale, along with John Savage and Don Baker.

“I’ve run the pub for 25 years, and before that helped our late parents run The Eldon Hotel in Skibbereen, and I feel now’s the time to take a break. I have other projects in mind for the future — outside of the hospitality sector,” says Kieron Walsh.

Auctioneer Maurice Cohalan (who sold the Eldon for the Walshs) points to the recent sale of the Glandore Inn for €650,00 and now has the next Walsh family venue to find new owner for. He guides the “traditional, iconic and well equipped bar/restaurant”, apartment and B&B at €475,000.

KEYWORDS: Iconic Pub, West Cork, Irish Pub, Gastropub