Last month, the owners of Kiely’s of Donnybrook announced that the pub was for sale and would close in the coming months. “Pat and I have decided to retire and we are giving our four wonderful children their shot at living their own lives,” Mary Crimin wrote on Facebook. She added, “It’s not goodbye yet as we expect to be around for several months yet so drop in for a chat.”
And so, having never before stepped foot in the place, I decided to drop in one Monday evening to pay a visit.
Kiely’s is renowned, first and foremost, for being a rugby pub. It is to Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s columns what New York is to Sex and the City. Indeed, it recently found itself in the news after footage emerged showing hepped up youngsters outside the pub throwing pucks at each other following a schools rugby match. The stuff of a Sindo journalist’s wet dream, if you will.
Fortunately, things are far more sedate this evening as punters enjoy medicinal Monday pints over the low murmur of Stereophonics’ Handbags and Gladrags. The pub is screening a Premiership match between West Ham and Stoke, but rugby is never far away. Sure, isn’t former England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster sitting at the bar?
The pub itself is about what you’d expect. Walls are adorned with pictures of sporting triumphs and framed jerseys. I’m told there’s a plaque installed above the urinal, which reads, “This plaque has been erected in honour of Ross O’Carroll Kelly who hit and missed here for many years.” It wears its D4 heart on its sleeve.
I slink into a red leather booth and decide to sample some of the pub’s menu. It has all the usuals – toasties, burgers, soups, chicken wings, fish, and that most Irish of dinner staples, lasagne. I’m peckish so I opt for a turkey roast to be washed down with a creamy pint of Guinness. The plate arrives out and is stacked with sliced turkey, mash, roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli. Standard carvery grub, sure, but it’s a tonic on this blustery school night.
It’s easy to see why the pub is so beloved. Despite its postcode, it has no airs or graces about it. All evening, we’re treated to prompt, friendly service and very good pints. When my date moves to tea, the barman pops over to to top up his hot water having apparently sensed from across the room that the water in the pot might have gone lukewarm.
To put it simply, it’s a good and honest pub that will be sorely missed when it’s inevitably acquired by a consortium of former rugby players. Pop in and pay your respects while you still have time. Just double check that there isn’t a schools rugby match on lest you find yourself refereeing an adolescent brawl.
Words: Amy O’Connor
Photo: Killian Broderick