The Sky And The Ground pub is located on the main street of the old Norman port town of Wexford. In 1995, owners Johnnie and Nuala Barron purchased 'The Kingdom Bar' which had been a pub since at least the 1890's. The Kingdom Bar had burned down two years earlier and lay derelict. Johnnie and Nuala set out to build a brand new one in its place and incorporated a former butcher's shop next door. It is a considerable achievement that the Barrons have created a pub, full of soul, atmosphere and character, that even the most seasoned pub spies would be hard pushed to identify as a 1996 creation.
Upon entering, one enters a room that smells of the old world and seems to go on forever. There is nothing but dark wood, dim lights, vintage Irish advertising, old photos of local streetscapes and landmarks, rare and rare framed prints of Irish political heroes and rebels such as Michael Collins, Padraig Pearse and James Connolly. The old shelves are filled with bric a brac, small Irish antiques, curiosities and farming tools. All the wainscoting, floorboards and stained glass were salvage materials and placed with meticulous precision along the walls and floors of the pub. Old Irish enamel, tin and paper advertising were handpicked and duly framed and hung all along the wooden panelling.
A red bench to the left leads around to a small snug of anaglypta wallpaper decorated with bookmakers memorabilia and photographs of four generations of Barron forebears. A large poster for DWD whiskey points to the atmospheric 'Heavens Above' restaurant upstairs. A piano marks the entrance to the main bar. Chipped enamel lampshades hang low over a counter, salvaged from Gaynor's shoe shop, now capped by three discreetly assertive tap banks. Traditional signs hang above shelves which were salvaged from an old chemist shop.
A saloon style partition points to a brick wall in the far distance, hung with an old geographical map of Ireland. To the right, a marble fireplace dated 1864 heats a series of private wainscoted enclaves, each one furnished with marble tables, games tables, stained glass panes and classic advertisements for Chivas Regal, Wills Gold Flake, Jameson, Guinness, Donard Dew Old Irish Whiskey, Tayto Crisps and other goods that promise 'sweet harmony'. Few chairs match. The floorboards in this part came from an old malting house in Birmingham. Johnnie and Nuala converted the former butcher's shop next door into a sports bar, a wonderfully decorated solitary room with a television for locals to gather, chat and enjoy the latest sport.
The pubs name came from the title of an album released by Wexford musician, Pierce Turner, a relation of Nuala's, memorably described by Hot Press as 'Joyce with a voice, Yeats on skates'. The Sky & the Ground is an excellent example of how to build a traditional Irish pub from scratch and do it right.