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23-26 Montpellier Walk crack

As soon as I walk into O’Neill’s I know this is going to be a fun interview. George Doyle, the landlord, offers me a cappuccino. It’s Bewley’s he tells me. It’s gorgeous I reply.

George runs O’Neill’s with his wife Mary. It’s warm and friendly and the walls are decorated with traditional Irish menus. Irish stew of course, colcannon and steak and Guinness pie. The menu starts from £3.49 at lunchtimes and includes such yummy dishes as shepherd’s pie, tomato and garlic chicken and sweet potato, spinach and leek tart. Or you can have a chicken and bacon burger. If it wasn’t only eleven thirty I’d be ordering there and then. ‘Lunch’ is served until 5.00pm. The main menu is also available all day and up to 10.30 in the week and 8.00 at weekends and includes Irish stew, scampi, burgers and Guinness battered fish. The average price is £4.99 for Irish sausages and colcannon to £6.49 for a ‘full Irish breakfast’.

George is proud of the fact that they have live music three times a week. On Thursdays Colin Hartley plays an easy listening acoustic set. Then on alternate Fridays, you can listen to resident band The Kick Doctors. On the run up to Christmas though, they are playing on 19th & 26th November & 3rd December, followed by Dark Horse on the 4th. During the racing on November 12th to 14th there will be music from MaLacky Cairns while local six-piece Profoundly Blue will be playing on 27th November. In fact the calendar is full up till Christmas when there will be live entertainment every day during Christmas week.

Race meetings are the highlight of the year, especially during Gold Cup week in March. On Ladies Day the first 100 ladies to walk into O’Neill’s get a red rose. Every race day for £5 George runs a double decker bus up to the racecourse and back where on returning to the pub you can exchange your ticket for a pint of Guinness. So you can still get a drink even if you lose all your money so long as you don’t lose your ticket.

It’s not long before we are chatting like old friends and George tells me about his two Yorkshire Terriers called Teddy and Alfie. I tell him I love dogs so I get to meet them. They are as perfectly groomed as the pub itself is clean and tidy. O’Neill’s scored 4/5 on the Scores on the Doors website. And they received the Best Bar None award from Cheltenham Borough Council in October.

Finally he shows me how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. You pour two-thirds and then leave it to ‘settle’. He then pours the rest while telling me that O’Neill’s is the only pub to serve Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale and that the beef is 100% Irish. The Guinness is ready and there appears to be a shamrock on the top. I have no idea how it got there. We both agree we can’t let a good pint go to waste and luckily my husband arrives just in time to pick me up so that’s the Guinness sorted!

O’Neill’s is located at 23-26 Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1SD.

Tel: 01242 236 857 and the website is at: