When you raise your pint of Guinness for a toast in Ireland, you say Sláinte, meaning good health. Click below to learn to say it properly.  

I have several pub stories from our trip to Ireland but this one merits singular treatment. Based on outstanding reviews by Anthony Bourdain, we decided to eat at John Kavanagh’s Pub. Kavanagh’s is referred to locally as the Gravedigger’s due to its proximity to the Glasnevin Cemetery, where Irish heroes such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, and Michael Collins are buried. As we approached the door, a gentleman outside inquired whether we were there to eat or drink. We said, “Both,” to which he responded, “If you want food, go in that door. If you want history, go in this one.” We opted for the food door but once inside, the waitress told us there was no food on Mondays. So, back outside and in through the history door we went. We love both food and history so if one isn’t available, the other will do.

This pub was first licensed in 1833 and continues to be a local institution to this day. Although not the oldest pub in Ireland, (that distinction belongs to The Brazen Head), John Kavanagh’s has been in the same family for six generations. It didn’t take long for the friendly locals inside to engage us in conversation. These guys are a garrulous group with many tall tales to tell. The most memorable was when they heard we were from Iowa, one of the chaps asked, “Which is closer, Iowa or the moon?” Providing the punchline, he exclaimed, “The moon. You can see the f_ _ _ _ _’ moon! You can’t see Iowa from here.”

These fellows are also very proud to show off a book kept on the premises that contains information about the pub including the many movies in which the pub has appeared such as “The Woman Who Loved Clark Gable,” “No One Would Save Her,” “Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin in the Bronx,” and “Strumpet City.” Honestly, I hadn’t heard of any of these movies, but maybe you have. The pub even has its own friendly ghost, reputed to enjoy a pint of Guinness as much as other loyal customers. I didn’t get the name of the book but if you visit, I’m sure they’d be proud and happy to share it with you.

John Kavanaugh's Pub, Dublin

John Kavanagh’s Pub, Dublin

Kavanaugh's Pub

Kavanagh’s Pub

Kavanaugh's Pub

Kavanagh’s Pub

Friendly customers at Kavanaugh's

Friendly locals at Kavanagh’s

Friendly customers at Kavanaugh's

Friendly locals at Kavanagh’s regaling Jim with stories

Friendly customers at Kavanaugh's

Friendly local at Kavanagh’s with Abi and Brian

Swinging Doors that locals told us are famous from movie appearnaces (Photo provided by Abi)

Swinging Doors that locals told us are famous from movie appearances (Photo provided by Abi)

We went to other pubs in Dublin and throughout Ireland but this pub was the only place where we didn’t rub shoulders with other tourists seeking an authentic Irish pub experience. This was the real thing.

I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t go back to tell you about the food that originally brought us there. Click on this youtube video to see what they’re doing with tapas at Kavanagh’s. We’ll be back to check it out—but not on a Monday.

Categories: Ireland | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Sláinte

  1. Sheryl

    Is this the pub with the pass through opening to the cemetery where they used to literally pass a pint through to the grave diggers? I have never been there but saw something on Nptv once. Nice blog Laura

    • They didn’t tell us about that, Sheryl, but it’s literally at the entrance to the cemetery so it definitely could be.

  2. The tapas look amazing but yes—-obviously Monday is not the day to go next time, right?

    • I’m thinking of a blog post about what to do while traveling on a Monday when the museums and restaurants are closed! The first time I was in Paris, I waited until my last day to go to the Louvre and it was closed for Armistice Day. Research, research, research!

      • Oh man—that would have been frustrating. I guess everyone needs a day off but they should have accommodated you! 🙂

  3. I am drooling over the food in that video – it looks amazing. We go to Dublin most summers for at least a day and I never knew about this place. Love the history as well, think we will be headed there this year for the food, will make sure it’s not on a Monday!!

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