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Jim O’ the Mill

June 8, 2007

corey says…There’s a place everyone in this part of Tipperary talks about. No matter the age of the person talking or the person listening, “Have ye been to The Mill lately,” comes up almost as frequently as the weather.

The Mill is an old fashioned shebeen…or Irish drinking house. Locals come together every Thursday at Jim and Kay’s home for traditional music, Guinness and craic.

The place is only identifiable by the string of cars parked in the road and the yearly coat of bright whitewash and red trim paint. I followed Tony and his fiddle down the drive and entered the red half-door.

Lay of the Land
Inside, there was an old style sitting room with a roaring fire. Now mind you, it was plenty warm outside, but I think a fire is required at Jim’s no matter the weather. Against the back row, a group of grey-haired ladies already claimed their usual seats. In front of them, Liam and his three guests had taken their positions, and on one chair, a small dog sought the affection of a little girl sitting next to him.

Tony and I turned into the small door next to the entrance to the second sitting room. It was much smaller and more rustic and had its own fire. Then we slipped through yet another door to the bar. Guinness was the only beer on tap, but large, pint size bottles of other brews lined the shelves.

We were served our whiskey and handed a liter of 7Up. A year ago, I couldn’t bare the taste of whiskey, but gradually, I’ve developed a taste for it…with 7Up. Tony caught up with the bartender, and we returned to the sitting room and found two open seats.

Tony walked passed the dog with his fiddle and opened a door with layers of glossy cream paint. On the other side was Jim and Kay’s kitchen. From the other side, several voices cried, “Tony, yer home.” I saw a pair of arms wrap around his back before the door closed behind him.

A little while later, Tony returned without his fiddle and sat next to me, “I like to leave my fiddle in the kitchen with the ladies.”

The Session
We visited with the folks around us…some taking a bit longer to join the conversation than others. Then the kitchen door sprung open and out walked a series of musicians. Empty chairs suddenly appeared in front of them, and within moments they were playing their first set.

Shortly thereafter, Tony was invited to join. Then several in the audience shared a song. Liam sang “Tipperary Waltz”…a song I never heard the States, but here, everyone seemed to know the chorus.

At one point, two of the grey haired ladies slipped into the kitchen. About a half-hour later, they came out with trays of buttered bread with a round of pudding (sausage) in the middle.

Everyone had their own technique of eating the sandwich. I folded the corners of my bread around the sausage and bit in. It was truly the tastiest sandwich to ever touch my lips…and I’m not much of a pudding eater.

At one point, one of the musicians offered me her bodhrán, but having never played one before, I declined.

This was truly an experience that celebrated some of old Ireland. It was truly about sharing the song and the craic.

The session was in full swing when we left well after midnight, but we had a big day ahead of us and knew we needed the rest.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 9:27 AM

    Where exactly IS Jim O’ the Mill??? We’ll be there in May and would love to check it out.

  2. February 12, 2009 10:09 AM


    I’ll send you an email off-blog with some info. It’s not the easiest to find.


  3. Maggie Ryan permalink
    June 16, 2009 3:44 PM

    I was at Jim O’ the Mills a few weeks ago.
    I was visiting cousins in the Thurles area and they took me along.
    Wonderfully nostalgic place, with a traditional session, good musicians and some good voices. I was taken back to my Aunt’s farmhouse in the 1950s.
    When there was a slight pause in the music, an elderly gentleman sitting by the fire would tell a funny story with a deadpan straight face. You never know who is going to show up, and on that night in walked a star of one of the old Show Bands, he got a great welcome and gave a couple of songs.
    There is good reason why you will not see Jim’s place advertised, and why there is no sign outside……neither sign nor publicity is necessary for it is full to the rafters, mostly with people from the surrounding villages who love and appreciate traditional music.
    The place would quickly lose it’s charm if the tourists found it and started clicking cameras and requesting “Danny Boy”.

    • Patrick Walsh permalink
      September 8, 2013 9:50 AM

      Thanks to my DEAR Maggie, we were lucky to attend a Thursday night session! amazing! and were very welcomed. One of our best highlights of the trip to be sure!

  4. June 16, 2009 8:50 PM

    Hear, hear, Maggie. Jim’s is a truly unique place, and although all are welcome, the local flavour is what makes it so special.

  5. David McKay permalink
    March 19, 2012 5:03 PM

    Thanks for having this posted!!

    Jim and several (16!) of his friends came over to America just last week to visit our parish. The entire group are dear friends of my priest, Fr. Patrick Carley, also a native of Ireland.

    Jim was Grand Marshall of our St. Patrick’sDay parade and his group rode with him. A fun time for all of us!

    We truly feel blessed to have had them with us to sing and play. What talent lies across the ocean!

    If you get back, I’d love to see any photos you may hoave of Jim’s place, I can’t wait to visit…

    Thanks again!

  6. September 17, 2012 7:12 PM

    Where are you and in what parade was Jim Grand Marshall? We’d have loved to have seen him again. Last year, 3 friends and I stayed about 3 miles from his place. He and one of his daughters walked over and invited us to Jim O’ The Mill. We had already heard about it from our cottage owner. What a wonderful experience. We only got there twice during our visit, but will never forget it.

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