Molly’s – Antwerp’s oldest Irish pub

AudreyAudrey Molewska runs Molly’s Irish Pub on the Jezuitenrui. Nessascityblog got to ask her a few questions and the answers revealed not just some facts about a local business – but a story with a big heart.

 

Hi Audrey! Can you start by telling us about Molly’s -where and what sort of pub it is?

Molly’s (Jezuietenrui 4) is currently Antwerp’s oldest Irish Pub. A little off the main streets of Antwerp, we’re very much a hidden gem. We’re not so much a tourist bar; mainly more for the expats (although EVERYONE is welcome at Molly’s!).


interiorThe greatest thing about Mollys, in my opinion, is the sense of family: for a lot of us this is our “home away from home”, and the friends we make here are our family. Then there’s the regulars – those countless number of wonderful people-  friends- who have frequented this pub, some for more than twenty years. We’d never last without them. Our prices are fair, the Guinness is great, we showcase proper trad music, plus there’s more sport to watch than you can shake a stick at! Whoever crosses our door gets a warm Irish welcome that will keep them coming back for more. The staff care, the customers care….we’re family …Dysfunctional sometimes, but what family isn’t?!

 What about you? Where are you from and what’s your work background?

I’m from Swords Co. Dublin, Ireland and I moved here in 2012. It was a classic case of “Woman In Love Follows ‘Love of Life’” and sets up home here. I worked in a number of well known Irish bars  (bringing twelve years experience with me from home) but I never found the right fit for me. Staff and management in the larger bars never seemed to care about the customer, being more about the turnover. Something as simple as not knowing a regular customer’s name is unacceptable to me. I decided I needed to have my own place in order to stop working for people I couldn’t respect, and be able to really start giving people what they wanted…a PROPER IRISH PUB. I won’t claim to be the only one these days, and I’ll give a shout out to others operating with the same ethos: The Highlander, The Northerner, An Sibhin, and The Corner House. 

 

What do you like about living and working in Antwerp? 

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Jezuietenrui, where you will find Molly’s

I LOVE living in Antwerp! My first six years were spent living in Limburg, and then Kasterlee (both beautiful places) but when I finally moved to Antwerp, it was the missing link! Finally, I had the support I lacked before, the city life that revived me, the acceptance and help I never properly received (in my busy life I’ve never fully mastered the language despite my attempts!). It’s never easy, but it’s easier than before!

I love how cosmopolitan Antwerp is. The people are so helpful and friendly.  In these times I see us all, as small local businesses, trying to  band together, regroup, and try to support one another!  Perhaps the “family element” of Molly’s is evident in a lot of places in Antwerp!

How did Molly’s survive the shutdown, and how is re-opening going?

With difficulty like many. Finances were a constant juggle, alongside supporting a family. We missed our customers and our family. We stayed in constant touch with regulars and friends to check on their health and to see if they needed help.

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Near re-opening time, we put out an S.O.S to our lovely regulars to see who could provide some skills and help to make a “NEW MOLLYS” for our customers….the response was overwhelming!

We now have a whole new look; it’s spotlessly clean with a new-look terrace, and we plan to keep making more changes as the months go on.

We’re all hoping (touch wood!) that there will be no second wave – all being well, what are your future plans for Molly’s? 

 

As stated, more renovations and possibly an extension in the future to provide our customers with an authentic Irish Kitchen. This is “phase 1” as we call it….hopefully there’s more to come!! And to all who helped: you know who you are – Molly’s would be lost without you!

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Find Molly’s on Facebook
Email: mollysirishpubantwerp@gmail.com

 

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 23rd, 24th & 25th August

Friday

ghostwalkAntwerp Ghostwalks are a well reviewed Antwerp city walk to the darkest and spookiest streets of the city, although they are known for their humour as much as for the horror, and this week you can catch a ghostwalk in English -sign up via email (info@ghostwalk.be) for 12.50 per adult and 7.50 per child.

IMG_20190625_211259_resized_20190627_091432217Just in case you didn’t get enough beer at the Bollekesfeest last weekend, the ABC Taproom (Seefbier brewery) is launching a new one. How considerate! Come and taste the new summer beer from 4pm at the brewery on Indiestraat in the Cadixwijk.

Zomer van Antwerpen’s Muziek in de Wijk goes jazzy this evening on Dageraadplaats from 7.30pm (free).

Saturday

It’s the summer edition of  Left Festival on Linkeroever -a large open-air flea market, plus some music, kids’ ents and a bar to enjoy while browsing. Free, 9am -5pm

ABC (Antiques, Books Curiosa) at Den Beulebak is a monthly market in the university area, from 11am- 5pm. Free.

‘T Waagstuk is a lovely old bar serving a wide variety of Belgian beers on Waagstuk. It has been closed for refurb since 2016 and many will be delighted to see that it is opening its doors again this weekend, on Saturday at 4pm.

Sunday

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Cultuurmarkt flags on Meir

It’s the annual Cultuurmarkt all around Antwerp today. Meir (museums, heritage, literature), Steenplein (dance, circus, movement), Groenplaats (theatre & musicals), Grotemarkt & Kaasrui (music, arts centres, film) as well as other locations, will all be busy with 100s of local cultural organisations showing off their performances, workshops, courses, activities and other opportunities to become involved in the artistic and cultural life of the city, as well as their programmes for the upcoming season (eg. theatre, dance, and exhibition programmes). Many organisations from beyond Antwerp come to the city to share what they do.

It’s a massive programme and there are many activities for all ages which can be tried out at various stands. Activities and organisations with kids’ activities will be indicated with the familiar “vlieg” symbol. You can either plan what you’d like to find out about, or just head in to town and see what you come across!

Lambermonmartre is another popular Antwerp regular summer event: an outdoor artmarket where local artists sell and promote their creations in front of KMSKA (Leopold de Waelplaats) from midday until 5pm. There’s always a small bar, and a stand selling fresh cake and sandwiches too, as well as some live jazz/ swing music.

It’s going to be a very warm weekend -especially on Saturday and Sunday when temperatures could reach 30 degrees. Bring your sun screen and your water bottle!

Miscellaneous

Next Wednesday is the last of the month, so you can visit Antwerp museums for free. You can see which ones are free here.

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Race For The Cure Antwerpen
(pic courtesy of Think Pink Belgie)

For the last two years I have run Think Pink Race For The Cure Antwerpen with friends and with my son. It’s on Linkeroever and participants can choose between a 6km run, or a 3km walk. You can sign up here -it’s always a great day, and a very worthy cause (breas cancer awareness and research).

The complete Antwerp summer programme (Zomer van Antwerpen) was released on 28th May at http://www.zva.be/. Helpfully, there are English and French versions of the programme in downloadable pdf form.

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This Weekend: 31st March, 1st & 2nd April

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Tatt time in Antwerp this weekend

[NEXT POST: 6TH APRIL 2017]

Here’s the GOOGLE MAP!

If you are into your ink, then it’s the 18th Antwerp Tattoo Convention this weekend, at Waagnatie on both Saturday and Sunday. 

(pic courtesy of Yael Greenhalgh)

 

 

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Critical Mass sets off from Theaterplein

 

Friday

It is the Easter edition of Critical Mass. Assemble as usual at Theaterplein at 6pm, with your bike. Enjoy a spring bike ride with other cyclists around Antwerp. Rumour has it that this edition involves chocolate.

 

 

 

Saturday

7000 cyclists will be taking part in a  warm-up event (We Ride Flanders) for the Tour of Flanders (see Sunday) They are going to be setting off between 7 and 8am and following the same course as the Tour

Sunday

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Tour of Flanders flags on the Town Hall

The Tour of Flanders bike race starts today from Antwerp! It sets off from Het Steen at 10.30 but the festivities will be up and running from 8am on Grote Markt which will be transformed into a fan village for the day, with music, DJs and big screens to follow the action until 6pm.

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so many of the shops in the centre and the old town will be open for Sunday shopping.

Alternatively head to Parkloods (Park Spoor Noord) for Goegekregen’s rommelmarkt (secondhand with lots of retro and vintage bargains) from 9am -6pm, or to Markt van Morgen on Kloosterstraat from 12 -6pm. This market offers clothing, jewellery, accessories, stationery and household goods made by local creatives. There are usually snacks and drinks available, and it is a great place to pick up a special card or gift that you won’t find in the high street.

Or why not Tango on Draakplaats from 3 -8pm?

The weather is predicted to be warm and pleasant again, with some clouds at times; a 50% chance of a bit of rain on Saturday.

Miscellaneous

If all the biking this weekend has strengthened your resolve to cycle more, then check out Antwerp’s City Bike Scheme (Velo). And don’t forget kids: kids love to cycle but children’s bikes can be pricey. Apen op Wieltjes enables you to pay a one-off annual fee and then borrow bikes for your kid(s), returning them when they have grown out of them. They also offer workshops in bike maintenance and other activities. If you have a kid’s bike knocking around in your cellar or garage, you might want to donate it to this scheme, whose aim is to to ensure that every child in Antwerp gets to have a bike.

Random rec: Cafe de Kat (Wolstraat 22) an established, attractive ‘bruine kroeg’ in the old town, which I found myself in recently. It doesn’t look special from the outside but inside it’s roomy, fairly noisy and with a lovely, authentic interior.

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There’s still a small funfair on St Jansplein until 9th April.

 

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This Weekend: December 5th & 6th 2015

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Lights on the Keyserlei

If you have not noticed the festive feeling starting up in Antwerp, then you really need to get out and do so, if you can. For us -as a family resident in Belgium, with both Dutch and UK influences- this weekend is the one where Christmas overlaps with Sinterklaas, so this post will hopefully contain a bit of both ….

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Plein Publiek -Van Craesbeeckstraat

If you are ready to start the weekend immediately after work on Friday, I recommend Plein Publiek which opens at 4 for drinks, 5 for food and the dancing starts at 9. It’s a very attractive venue, placed in the middle of a now-disused social housing complex, near Nationalestraat..

Saturday

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groenplatsXmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have walked through the old town this week, you will have seen the stalls being set up for the Christmas Market which will dominate this part of the city from this Saturday when it opens. Stalls selling Christmas goods, foods and snacks will be found near the cathedral, on Grote Markt, Suikkerui, Groenplaats and Steenplein. The ice rink is usually on Steenplein, and the Christmas wheel is nearby. It’s the perfect place to meet friends, or take family. The market is on daily until 27th December. sintgrandbazar

For a smaller and more off-beat Christmas Market experience, head to the Vrijdag Markt at 4pm for music, DJs and food trucks.

BUT … If you have children who are in Sinterklaas mode, then he can be seen in various locations around the town centre and will be stopping in Grand Bazar; this is usually quite busy, with kids queuing, seeing Sint and being pictured with him. He is also believed to be visiting this fleamarket on the Sint Jansplein, at 2pm, with his Pieten.

I recommend the bookmarket at the Zuiderpershuis, which is still on. It’s a stock sale and the reductions are good. Most titles offered are in Dutch, but with some fashion, design and art books in English. Lots of books for children and toddlers, if you are buying gifts for kids and babies. It’s worth going just to see this attractive venue, if you don’t already know it, and it is a short walk from FOMU and Cinema Zuid, which are also worth knowing about.

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book sale at Zuiderpershuis.

If you like to donate and recycle at this time of year, why not take clothes, food and children’s items to Moeders voor Moeders on Helmstraat? They receive deliveries on the first Saturday of each month, between 10 and 12, and work to support families with children in need, in the Antwerp area.

Sunday

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so there is Sunday shopping around the town centre (note that most shops open a little later, though, at around midday).

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Eva Steynen (photo courtesy of Eva Steynen)

However, maybe you would like to get away from Sinterklaas, Christmas and shopping, to a vernissage (3pm) at this Gallery in Zurenborg curated by local artist, Eva Steynen?

There is a different type of Exhibition for fans of Tintin (and other Belgian comic book characters)  which finishes up on Sunday.

Another way to take a break from the consumerist side of this season would be to donate clothing to The Empty Shop project, which is running until the 12th December at the Youth Hostel on Bogaardplein. Your clothing will be restyled and sold to raise funds for the Kamiano Restaurant which provides meals for homeless people in Antwerp.

Whether you are enjoying Christmas, Sinterklaas, shopping or something a bit different, have a great weekend. Alas, it might be a good idea to take an umbrella out with you so that the predicted drizzle doesn’t spoil your fun

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Grote Markt on a winter’s night by Daniel Ruiz- Cecconello