Goodbye to all that

By Eoin Meegan

Photo: Eoin Meegan.

Kiely’s pub in the heart of Donnybrook village is about to close its doors for the last time. The pub has been part of the history of Donnybrook for many long years with the present owners Pat and Mary Cremin at the helm for over 30 years.

They are both looking forward to a happy retirement and maybe, at last, getting some time to themselves. 

Considered by many as Rugby’s unofficial HQ, perhaps because of its proximity to Bective, Wesley and with the added advantage of having the RDS almost in its back garden, this pub became the mecca for socialising and watching games for rugby and soccer fans alike.

It certainly was a favourite gathering for rugger heads, who have been known to drop in before, during and after a match to slake their thirst. And it didn’t only mark the Internationals; the pub could legitimately argue to be the home of Leinster Rugby, and was something of an institution for Schools rugby too.

After a match between Blackrock, St. Michaels or Clongowes, families would congregate here to parse through the finer details of the game, both on days of rejoicing and heartbreak alike.

But there was more to Kiely’s than just sport. The pub was a place where locals would meet and discuss all the local news, chew over the thorny political conundrums of the day, or inquire about an elderly person who hadn’t been seen for a few days; all the usual things people do in their local hostelry.

NewsFour contacted the owners a few times but they were unable to give an interview, however Mary posted a valediction on Facebook:

“Yes it’s official folks, Pat and I have decided to retire and we are giving our four wonderful children their shot at living their own lives. It took a lot of soul searching to make this decision as we have had 30 wonderful years in Donnybrook and made lifelong friends not just in Ireland but across the world. We want to thank everyone for your support in that time and especially our hard working staff. It’s not goodbye yet as we expect to be around for several months yet so drop in for a chat.”

But that time is sadly coming to an end as the pub is set to close its doors for the last time in August. Already the main lounge is closed and only the bar, known as Ciss Maddens remains open.

Ciss Maddens was an innovative extension by Pat and Mary, by cordoning off a part of the old lounge and creating a separate bar, supposedly a reconstruction of a pub from the country. It was an attempt to create an old world bar, which some people found to have a unique charm and others considered tacky.

One of Kiely’s most loved characters was the fictional Ross O’Carroll Kelly, created by Paul Howard and brought to life by Rory Nolan in such productions as Postcards from The Ledge and Breaking Dad.

According to Mary in an interview with Ryan Tubridy when Ross heard the news of the pub’s imminent closure he was “devo.” There is even a plaque over the gents commemorating the great man which reads:

“This plaque has been erected to Ross O’Carroll Kelly who hit and missed here for many years.”

The pub has been facing rising losses over the last decade. The firm behind it, Donnybrook Inns Limited, having recorded losses of just under three million euros in recent years.

What will happen to the pub now? Who knows? There may be plans to build an apartment block on the site, which would be a great shame and another body blow to a village that is already depleted in traditional pubs.

The aforementioned Ross mused in a recent tweet that it might even become a café, as he bemoaned the loss of his favourite watering hole, from which he was barred many a time, but always allowed back in by its kindly owners.

As a pub and an institution it will be sadly missed. NewsFour would like to wish Mary and Pat all the best in their retirement. Sláinte!

Photo: Eoin Meegan.