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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019
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Nuns' habits, fishing tackle and a *very* famous dog: Killeen's of Shannonbridge has it all

A photo taken in the pub is now one of Ireland’s most recognisable viral images.

Image: Instagram/natashagamboa

EVEN IF YOU’VE never set foot in Killeen’s in Shannonbridge, chances are that you are familiar with it thanks to a photo that went viral a while back.

The photo shows a dog in a flat cap and coat having a pint of Guinness with an auld lad.

“That’s from a few years ago now,” explains Louise Killeen, who manages the bar.

“My dog is Oscar. He lives here. He’s the house dog. Ollie D’Arcy is our best customer. He comes in absolutely every day. We love him. We put Oscar beside him one day, threw a cap on Oscar and took a picture.”

The image quickly took on a life of its own and has since prompted many to pay a visit to the pub.

original The now-viral shot of Ollie and Oscar enjoying their pints. Source: Killeens Shannonbridge/Facebook

“People come in because they have seen the picture and they want to take their photo with Ollie and Oscar,” laughs Killeen.

We have postcards now. Ollie will sign the postcard but you have to buy him a whiskey.

Killeen’s has been in operation since 1929 and will celebrate its ninetieth anniversary next year. Louise Killeen and her brother are the third generation to run the bar.

The pub itself is as traditional as they come. Not only does it serve pints, but it continues to operate as a shop as well.

“Literally if a part fell off your car, you could ask my father and he’d probably find it for you,” laughs Killeen.

What’s the oddest thing they sell in the shop?

We sell nuns’ habits. They wouldn’t be very stylish habits.

When the local shop is also a pub😂#rural #ireland #nye #trip

A post shared by MC (@mariechristinekienlen) on

Killeen says the pub attracts people from all generations – young, old, and everything in between.

“It’s kind of like the village,” she says.

People who are seventeen are friends with Ollie D’Arcy, who is nearly ninety. Everyone hangs out together and socialises together. We’ll do 21sts and the next week we’ll do an 80th birthday party.

In addition to parties, the pub regularly hosts music sessions. A trad band plays once a week and they have a full band on the weekends. In other words, it’s a lively spot.

Ask a fish

A post shared by Alessandro Coppo (@papperozzo) on

Although Shannonbridge may be a small village, it boasts a strong tourist trade thanks to its position on the river and its proximity to Clonmacnoise.

“We knock a bit of craic out of them,” says Killeen of tourists, before remembering a recent incident involving an American visitor.

“There was a couple in the other day. I said to them, ‘You’ll have to come back later for the craic.’ They both kind of looked at me and didn’t say anything.

“They just walked out of the pub. Then one of them came back and said, ‘Excuse me, do you actually sell crack in your pub?’ I was like, ‘Oh my Jesus.’”

Craic misunderstandings aside, those who do come in often find that they are warmly embraced by staff and locals.

“Our place is different in that if you come in, you’ll probably be talking to my father, who will bring you out photo albums,” says Killeen. “He’d be all about you now when you come in.”

We try to not just serve people. We chat to them. We have puzzles. We keep them entertained. We introduce them. If there are locals sitting around, they all chat to them as well.

People are so taken with the pub that many pin their business cards to the bar, a trend that started a few years ago.

“We were putting up old currencies and that kind of thing. One day somebody just stuck up a business card and now there are thousands of them. They’re all over the place.”

Like many pubs in rural Ireland, Killeen says it’s the locals that keep the place going even in the depths of winter.

“In fairness, we are really lucky with our customers. Winter would be quiet for us. We are very dependent on tourists, but the locals totally support us during the winter. They come in as much as they can.”

As a result, the bar staff – Killeen included – have all forged a strong bond with their regulars:

“Sometimes it’s not even like work. It’s like you’re just having the craic with your friends.”

 

More: The Donegal trad pub where everyone joins in the music

More: ‘Monks are buried under the beer garden’: The story of Franciscan Well Cork

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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