As much as I love this pub, I must love reading reviews of this pub even more.
It’s amazing how much people, especially younger people, can seem taken aback by the place.
The Porterhouse she ain’t. The taps when you walk in are a no nonsense affair. Not quite Henry Ford and the famous “..any colour you want as long as it’s black” comment, but not a million miles off. Let’s be honest, for ninety percent of the punters here at any given time, it’s black.
Yet , there is quite a bit more to a pub like this than the pints. Colm Tóibín was on the money when he stated that, when it came to Dublin pubs, “There are four or five that have survived the ravages of new money”
When a pub remains in the hands of one family for so long, as this one has, tradition becomes so firmly implanted in the place you’d need to knock it down and build some dire three floor disco-pub to undo it at this stage.
Glasnevin Cemetery is the rowdy next door neighbour to the quiet, content Kavanagh’s.
In any other community, the cemetery and pub might be the other way around. Still, only a stones-throw (literally) from the front door of this pub, you have the burial place of over one million individuals. Frank Ryan and Eoin O’ Duffy, Jim Larkin and William Martin Murphy, Cathal Brugha and Kevin O’ Higgins- all together. Not to mention a Big Fella and a Long Fellow.
1891, Parnell is laid to rest in Glasnevin.
Only recently on the fantastic Glasnevin Cemetery Tour did I fully stop and appreciate the surreal nature of the manner in which old and bitter Irish conflicts are at rest there. A pub can not grow up on the edge of such an amazing place and not be shaped by it.
Stories, legends or otherwise, have spread. The best is surely that of the Cemetery staff in years long past arriving to find a number of coffins sitting outside the pub, as opposed to inside the gates. I don’t doubt such tales for a second. A pub on the edge of a graveyard is, to me, akin to a fireworks factory beside an incinerator.
So, the place naturally has character in excess. If this was in the city centre, you wouldn’t be able to see for all the flashing photographty you’d no doubt have to put up with from tourists. Swinging doors, a true staple of a sort of Irish pub long gone, make you long for something you never knew in reality and could only read about. The pub is authentically old. There are publicans all over the island battering tables with objects to make them look old (Well, not literally…I hope) to create some sort of old ‘Oirish’ pub experience. You can’t create it but, especially not when you’ve put 5 widescreen televisions into your pub and half your customers are only there to watch Manchester United.
There isn’t a telly in sight here. Nor can you hear a Lady Gaga song, or any song for that matter. It’s a reflection on the punters and regulars that the sound of chat and laughter is enough to carry the day in a pub like this. Some pubs probably need the television sets to be honest. I’ve been in pubs where silence would be the only thing worse than the music selection on offer.
While O’Donoghues and a few other gems have sadly succumbed to the suits and faster pace of a new Dublin, a new faster paced Dublin has to slow down when it enters Kavanagh’s. Let us hope a few more generations will rise to the challenge of running the place. It’s in good hands.
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