A pub for 130 years and a listed building for the last quarter century, the Shillelagh was always a place for the serious drinker. It still is. A refurb inside and out has done wonders for the once-grubby, still-skinny room, extending it at the back and opening up a beer garden beyond.
More of a surprise is the entertainment here: the Sinatra-themed Frank's Happy Hours nights have bitten the dust, but Peel Me a Grape on Sundays has plugged the gap nicely with an eclectic mix of music and film. This is still an Irish pub, though, and the demanding locals and pint-proud bartenders continue to ensure that the Guinness is nothing short of exceptional.
Time Out London
Frank's fans will be doing it their way.
FRANK Sinatra is back, again! His Stretch Limo will be parked in Stoke Newington Church Street this Monday.
Frank's Firework Party is the culmination of a weekend of celebrations to mark The Auld Shillelagh's 10th birthday. Proprietors Aonghus and Tomás will be serving dry Martinis and showing period films for this special edition of their regular slot, Frank's Happy Hours. The celebrations get under way tomorrow (Friday) with a performance by unusual Irish group, The Other Brothers.This will be followed on Saturday by Peel Me A Grape, a night inspired by the music a woman plays at four o'clock in the morning.
If you think that sounds like fun, don't miss The Green Room - an evening for resting actors combining chilled-out tunes with the occasional track from a musical. The bar will be broadcasting the celebrations live over the worldwide web all weekend, and in the heated Moroccan-style garden will be a bottle bar and pizzas provided by the neighbouring Il Bacio Pizzeria. Every evening, films connected to the theme of the night will also be shown from classic Sinatra movies to Withnail and I. Party-goers are invited to arrive early for a chance to travel back in time with drinks at 1991 prices tween 7pm and 8pm.
What N16 magazine said about the SKA Bar Ska – a heady fusion of boogiewoogie blues, R’n’B, calypso, jazz, mento and Rasta-inspired African rhythms – developed into the first truly indigenous Jamaican music in the early 1960s. Its leading proponents were the Skatalites (who were taught to play their instruments in a convent), and this legendary band laid the foundations for rock steady, blue beat and reggae, profoundly influencing such performers as Desmond Dekker, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Toots and the Maytals and Bob Marley.
Immigration into the United Kingdom from the West Indies in the 1960s helped promote the rapid spread of ska across London, with one of the most famous venues being our own Stoke Newington Town Hall.
On Saturday nights the venue throbbed with this new beat, the sound systems belting out blues and ska across the neighbourhood, then home to a very different social and cultural mix of people to today’s Church Street of three-wheeled buggies, designer flats and bijou boutiques.
Tomas Leydon, landlord at the Auld Shillelagh, David (‘Thebigknightoutski’) Knight, the bar’s impresario and Tad Tomlinson, DJ and bespoke leather designer, are leading a campaign to bring ska back to Stoke Newington. On alternative Sundays the Shillelagh is hosting its Ska Bar in the back garden, with Tad spinning some rare, classic records from the original ska bands – including the Ethiopians, the Upsetters, the Heptones and, of course, the Skatalites – while cold bottled beer and cocktails are served at the outside Waikiki Bar. Jerk chicken, snapper, rice and peas and other Jamaican food, prepared by celebrated chef Ethel Minogue, are also on offer.
The first two events have packed the pub, the garden buzzing to the sound of the Caribbean. The next Ska Bar is on 15 August, with another following two weeks later on the August Bank Holiday weekend, and the final event this year takes place on 12 September. Stokey’s getting back to its roots.