“ Somerset House, Blagrave St, Reading, RG1 1QB. Tel. +44 (0)118 960. 6580 „
There was a time when half the pubs in an average town were Irish theme pubs. For some reason, Reading seems to have escaped that trend, and only recently acquired it’s first - O’Neills. There are of course other Irish pubs in Reading, but not the manufactured kind like this. That said, I am not against a manufactured environment if it is done well. O’Neills has a superb location. It is on the corner of Blagrave Street and Friar Street, opposite the town hall. The bar is so large that it takes up about a quarter of the street, but it is well laid out so that it is not an empty void inside. The bouncers are quite friendly, and don’t turn people away because they don’t have a Ben Sherman shirt on. The beer in O’Neills is much what you would expect in any mock Irish pub - Caffreys and Guinness, as well as the usual lagers and bitters and alcopops. The beer is not cheap - typically about London prices, and is certainly no better than anywhere else. There is lots of seating in O’Neills, scattered all over the place, so that you don’t feel too crowded. That is until the thousands of other people arrive and there is hardly any room to move and it takes you half an hour to get to the bar and back (they do sometimes have table service when it gets that bad). It’s about that time (9pm ish) that they decide that it would be a good idea to turn the 80s tape that they play over and over, up to a very loud volume. At that point any conversation ceases. If you were not scared off by the loud music and pricey beer then O’Neills has a great place for you. Upstairs from the main bar they have the Music Room. This is basically a late version of the main bar, with a dance floor and a 5 pound entry fee. But it is open until 2am. The music in there tends to be a good variety of 80s, 90s, culminating in Westlife and Steps, at which time I am ready to go home anyway. In summary, OR 17;Neills is a great pub to start in, to end in, but not to spend all night in.