Penguins, whales and polar icebergs were to be expected. A pint of porter was not.
At 54°48 degrees South, Ushuaia is the southernmost city in Argentina and one of the closest ports to the south pole. Almost 900km more southerly than Stewart Island it claims a lot of things: the most southerly golf course at the Ushuaia Golf Club, being the capital of Las Malvinas and the sub-Antarctic to being the most southerly city on Earth. (Something that neighbours in Chile’s Puerto Williams dispute, strongly.)
What is not up for dispute is that Ushuaia is home to one of the most remote Irish Pubs on the planet.
Despite the roaming Andean ibis and views up to the Marshal Glacier from the Calle 9 de Julio, The Dublin is reassuringly un-exotic. Leprechauns sports memorabilia and the Irish tridhathach tricolour cover every surface. There is even an All Blacks fern gifted by some Kiwi polar explorers, which flies over the bar.
It’s a pub, regularly visited by Antarctic tourists and expedition teams. From the pub’s dingy interior the only giveaway of the extraordinary location are the parade of expedition jackets and polar parkas that carry the logos of cruise ships. It’s a last call for adventurers driving the 3045km Pan American Highway, from Alaska to Antarctica, and mountaineers on their way to the Vinson Massif.
Even mid-summer the city rarely climbs above 13C. Snow flurries occur all year round.
It’s also the point where the ill-fated warship General Belgrano last set sail in 1982 before being sunk during the Falkland Islands war. The shorefront is littered with memorials to the Guerra de las Malvinas. This includes a huge concrete block containing earth and moss supposedly taken from the islands during the conflict “terrones de soberania” (which translates loosely as “sovereign sods”). The memorial was erected last year for the 40th anniversary and, for anyone passing through the port, the memory is clearly still fresh. A notice lets anyone know that shipping destined for the Falklands or sub-antarctic are regarded as under “local jurisdiction”.
Despite once being a penal colony - Argentina’s gulag on the way to the Antarctic circle - the city has rapidly been transformed by adventure tourism. The port, which is roughly 10 minutes’ walk from The Dublin, is the busiest for Antarctic cruise vessels in the world.
The high street Avenue St Martin is now full of king crab restaurants, expensive outdoor equipment and specialist travel agencies promising “Antarctica Last Minute”.
Despite its remote location, leading Ushuaia to be called the “fin del mundo” ( the “end of the world”) there are plenty of surprising Irish links beyond its pub. Patagonia’s history is full of Irish sailors and buccaneers, who were bobbing around the waters during the 1800s wars with Spain. Not least of which is Bernado O’Higgins who now has a region of Chile named after him and admiral William Brown, who gives his name to an Antarctic research base across the water.
At The Dublin Guinness is a go to - though only available in imported tin cans. Equally popular is Argentina’s own national pint of the dark stuff: Fernet con coca. The cocktail of Fernet Branca and Coca-Cola, is a national drink available from Buenos Aires to the bottom of South America and in July was used to toast the bar’s 20 years as the southernmost Irish pub in the world.
The most remote Irish pubs on the planet
Writer John Guare once wrote that there are only six degrees of separation between any two persons on the planet. The separation from their nearest Irish pub is arguably far less.
Ahead of U2 and the steam turbine, they are arguably Ireland’s largest cultural export. According to Forbes there are 7000 Irish pubs in the world. The majority seem to be uninspiring places, indistinguishable and used as a refuge for travelling rugby fans to avoid unfamiliar food, sunburn or anything else resembling international travel.
There are however some exceptions whose locations elevate even a menu of mainly potatoes and gravy.
The Irish Pub, Namche Bazaar, Nepal
Located in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas the Irish Pub holds many world records. While also being one of the most remote pubs in the world, at an altitude of 3440m. The Guinness Book of Records also awards it as being the highest Irish pub on the planet. On the tourist trail on the way to Everest Base Camp all its supplies arrive via Nepalese porter service. From the kegs of draught Guinness to the pool table, everything was carried at least 18km from the nearest airport in Lukla.
Mac Evan’s Pub, Saint-Denis, Reunion
The tiny French territory in the Indian Ocean is famous for its jungle interior and caldera volcanoes. The 3069m Piton des Neiges is the highest point in the Indian ocean, and the only places to receive snow showers.
Reunion is also home to the only Irish bar in the region, at least until you reach neighbouring Mauritius or Madagascar. Mac Evan’s Pub is located in the capital Saint-Denis, on the north of the island which is a hot spot for volcano hunters.
Dublin Irish Pub, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Beyond the wildest imaginations of Gengis Khan that one day there would be an Irish pub in Mongolia. While it might not have been high on the priorities of the 1200 khanate, The Dublin on Seoul Street claims to be the first Irish pub in the country, one of the most sparsely populated in Europe.
The Old Irish, Novosibirsk, Russian Siberia
The clover festooned Old Irish in Siberia’s Novosibirsk claims to be the the first Irish pub to have opened east of the Urals after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Since 1997 the pub on Lenin Square has been importing Guinness from Dublin. Although this has become more difficult recently. Despite the Irish beer brand having put embargo on their products being sold in Russia since war with Ukraine, brewing trade magazine Brauwelt claims that there is a growing black market for Irish Stout.
Newspaper Kommersant reported that Russian companies received approval to import and distribute Guinness though owners Diageo denied directly selling products into Russia since 2022. Parallel imports through third countries mean that the beer is reportedly still flowing in Siberia, even though tourists are increasingly scarce.
Le Celtic Bar, Bamako, Mali
To the south of the Sahara and at the heart of the African Sahel region is Bamako, Mali’s capital on the Niger river. En route to the historic walled city of Timbuktu - Le Celtic might be the most landlocked in Africa. More of an international boozer in Francophone west Africa, this is an Irish pub in all but name alone but reportedly is home to a popular weekend sound system for Mande-based Afro-pop.