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'You're being transported back': The Galway pub where the barman knew Samuel Beckett

The story of Garavan’s.

IT’S NOT EVERY pub that manages to have a book published about it. But Garavan’s isn’t your everyday pub.

The charming Galway boozer is one of the city’s most beloved watering holes and has been a fixture in the city since 1937. In fact, the pub hasn’t undergone any substantial makeovers since it first opened.

“It actually hasn’t changed at all,” laughs Susie Heaslip, who works as the pub’s project manager. “It kind of gives it the quirky vibe you get as soon as you come in.”

#Garavans #Galway #Gaillimh #pub #WhiskeyBar

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The building dates back to the seventeenth century, but the pub has only existed in its current form for the last eighty years or so. Three generations of the Garavan family have been involved in the business and continue to be to this day.

The pub is steeped in history. The ever-popular snug and the bar counter all date back to 1937, while the pub is home to lots of old bottles of whiskey.

“As you’re sitting there, you’re being transported back,” says Heaslip.

Stolti e senza rughe.

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Over the years, Garavan’s has become synonymous with whiskey and won numerous awards. It regularly hosts formal whiskey tastings and customers can also purchase their own tasting platters.

Additionally, it has over 100 bottles of whiskey, including bottles from every prominent distillery in Ireland. Some are merely there for display purposes, but some of the rare bottles are available for purchase as well.

“We have one particular one that’s a Jameson Grace, which was originally developed for the Asian market,” says Heaslip. “What makes it unique is shaped like a perfume bottle. It’s in the display case at the moment but shots can be bought for over €200 for a glass.”

Needless to say it’s not sold every single day.

In recent weeks, the pub has launched its own limited edition whiskey. Just 350 bottles have been produced and shots are available to purchase in the pub. “The feedback has been incredible,” says Heaslip.

A little sunday afternnon sampler. #irishwhiskey #galway

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The pub has had its own fair share of characters over the years.

“We had a staff member called Nicholas Killoury. He worked here back in the 1950s and actually worked here for fifty years. Ironically he didn’t drink. He never drank whiskey or Guinness. He would have been a stalwart of the pub and struck up a relationship with Samuel Beckett.”

Killoury helped inspire a local journalist named Jeff O’Connell to write a weekly column called Days and Nights in Garavan’s in The Galway Advertiser. The columns, written under the pseudonym of Morgan O’Doherty, contained stories, observations and nuggets of wisdom gleaned from the pub’s regular.

A few years ago, the columns were compiled into a book called Days and Night’s in Garavan’s, a testament to how large the pub looms in the lives of Galwegians.

For her part, Heaslip credits the pub’s enduring popularity and success to “the people on the ground”.

“We wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for the professionalism, friendliness and the expertise of our staff.”

We’ll drink to that.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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