39 Main Street,
One of the most famous and best-loved little bars in the six counties is Jimmy 16 Johnston’s modest establishment in Main Street, Augher.
What it lacks in dimensions, it makes up for in reputation.
Jimmy himself died in 1979, but the pub still bears his name and is today run single-handedly by his sister Barbara, a lady as well-known and well-liked as her brother. Barbara is a trained nurse; but tends her customers and administers the “medicine” from behind the tidy, spotless little counter. all in her living memory, although she has heard that in her grandfather’s time (he founded the bar in 1961) it was operated in a long store in the back yard before being moved into the house at the street front.
Her grandfather was the village registrar, so it seems somehow fitting that the pub is known far and wide for its “book-keeping”, in this case, its famous visitors’ books. There were thirteen of these, but only three can be found at the moment, going back to the early forties.
It’s like a Who’s Who of public life – how’s this for starters?
Hughie Green, Charles Haughey, Monica Rose, George Formby, Harry Lauder, Blair Mayne, Pat Jennings, Charles Witherspoon, and the last public executioner in Britain, Pierpont. These, by the way, are in no significant order at all, and the last one was not over on business!
Two other entries are worth a special mention.
In 1960 Charlie Chaplin’s three children, Geraldine, Eugene and Jane were holidaying in Donegal and their driver, a friend of Jimmy, brought them into the bar to meet him.
The other entry isn’t there (that’s Irish), but could have been if Jimmy had reacted just a little sooner.
One day a familiar-looking person entered the bar and asked to go to the Man’s Room. After the familiar stranger had gone, having availed himself of the Gents at the back, Jimmy realised that he was Edward Kennedy who at that time was on a private visit to Ireland.
You can see photos of Jimmy Johnston in the bar, one as a teenager astride his motorbike, another in his more familiar post behind the counter of his beloved bar. As someone remarked, “The world came unto Jimmy”, a tradition warmly continued by Barbara.
You owe yourself a visit next time you are passing through Augher.