Home Iconic bar Iconic Irish pub with star-studded guest list, including chairman and Julia Roberts, for sale

Iconic Irish pub with star-studded guest list, including chairman and Julia Roberts, for sale


If you’ve ever taken a trip to Achill Island, you’ve certainly come across the iconic Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant.

The third generation pub is owned by Alan Gielty and has hosted a wide variety of Hollywood stars since opening in the early 1950s.

Located on the breathtaking coast of Dooagh, Achill Island, the pub is one of a kind, offering the perfect opportunity to enjoy good food and company whilst taking in all the idyllic scenery that the island has to offer.

Gielty’s bar and restaurant has become world famous for its traditional music sessions, great food and of course, excellent pints of Guinness, with musicians such as Matt Molloy and Brendan Begley known to have played there.

Colin Farrell at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant Achill Island

Other celebrities who have passed through the doors of the family pub include Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Julia Roberts, Freddie Flintoff, Barry Keoghan and the one and only chairman Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina.

However, after 23 years at the helm of the business, owner Alan Gielty has decided to put the beloved bar and restaurant up for sale to spend more time with his young family.

Alan told the Irish Mirror: “I said in 2005, when I’m 55, I’m stepping out of the pub game and I’m 53 and I’ve just decided.

“I didn’t get married until I was 46. I married a lovely Hollywood girl in Wicklow, and we have two young children, one three years old and one nine months old, and I think it’s time for some family time. I want to be able to spend time with them.

Brendan Gleeson at Gielty’s Achill Island Bar and Restaurant

Alan said he is in a unique position as he is selling the business because he and his family “don’t want to because we have to”.

He said: “It’s totally unrelated to Covid, and it’s an ongoing business, which means people will make a good living from the business, but I just feel like I have to take a step back and spending time with my two kids and my family and you know i’m not going to do anything i still have other interests in buses and stuff like that but i feel like it’s time for a career change .”

Since taking over the pub from his father in 1999, Alan has made huge changes to grow the business and capitalize on the booming tourist industry in Achill.

Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant Achill Island

He said: “I just noticed I was sitting outside the living room on a Sunday in November reading some newspapers, and I looked out the window and between one and two o’clock I counted 60 cars driving past my house. So I thought, you know what? If I got even 10% of those cars in that hour, there’s an opportunity for a business here to sell food. So that was the catalyst.”

Irish rugby legend Shane Byrne at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant Achill Island

The pub has since undergone a major transformation.

Alan said: “In 2003 the fire officer arrived, and because the license had passed from my father to my name, that then meant I had to bring the building into compliance with fire regulations, so I had no choice. Either had to close the premises or redevelop them.

“So I decided to redevelop it in 2004, and we opened on July 1, 2005, so we grew from a small pub and B&B to a bar, restaurant, reception hall, cafe, a full catering kitchen and that’s where we are now.”

Asked what he will miss most about running the iconic pub, Alan said the social aspect of meeting people from all walks of life and recalled the time President Higgins and his wife Sabina called for a bite to eat.

He said: “When you’re doing food, you meet a completely different clientele than if you just drink. People will travel to eat, but they won’t travel to drink, so it’s just meeting completely different people from all walks of life. Even the president arrived in 2019.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina enjoying a meal at Gielty’s Bar and Restaurant Achill Island

“He came on Bank Holiday Monday in August himself and his wife. They both had a meal and didn’t book. They just arrived and had lunch.”

He added: “He invited me to sit down at the table and chat. I had been supposed to chat with him for about twenty minutes, and it was just by improvisation that they were staying at Mulranny, and they decided to pass drive in., and they liked the look of the place…they walked in, and the security man told me there was anywhere we could have a quiet, fair little spot at the time this happened we had a lovely quiet little spot right outside the building overlooking the view of the island, and he sat there for 20 minutes. He had his bowl of chowder, had a apple crumble and a coffee, and he invited me to sit down and have a coffee and was just asking me in general about the place.”

The rare good will be sold by Downey McCarthy Property and is sure to generate huge interest.

Gielty’s is the closest property to the 7th best beach in the world, Keem Bay.