Tuesday 23 October 2018

Pub cat in a brawl

the harbour bar has a history of welcoming animals, but the current resident is a bruiser

Owner: Paul O'Toole Jr from the Harbour Bar in Bray

Animals: Raoul, the cat who lives above the Harbour Bar

Background: Raoul suffered a head injury after a late-night brawl

The Harbour Bar in Bray is one of Ireland's classic pubs. In a recent Lonely Planet travel guide survey, it was acclaimed as "the best pub in the world". The combination of an authentic Irish-pub atmosphere with music, both traditional Irish and contemporary, and comedy clubs has allowed the bar to maintain a clientele of loyal locals and visitors.

Paul's family have run the pub for many generations: his father, Paul Sr, is still the man at the helm, but Paul Jr and his cousin Colin have become involved with the day-to-day running of the establishment in recent years.

There's a delicate relationship between the Harbour Bar and animals. In former years, dogs came and went from the pub. A fox terrier called Daisy used to have her own seat. Her master used to come and go as well, but Daisy felt equally at home in the pub on her own.

Sadly, modern health and safety regulations mean that dogs are no longer allowed the type of access that Daisy used to enjoy.

Cats have also hovered around the Harbour Bar. Paul Jr has always been an animal lover: he has his own dog and cat at home. He used to live in the apartment above the pub, and he had a large ginger cat called Fidel.


A few years ago, Fidel went missing, and Paul spent several weeks searching for him. When he heard that a ginger cat had been spotted in another part of Bray, he thought at first that it was his, but when he checked the cat out carefully, it turned out not to be Fidel.

However, it happened that this other ginger cat was looking for a home, and Paul seized the opportunity. The new cat was named Raoul, and he neatly slipped into Fidel's role as the cat upstairs at the Harbour Bar.

Fidel never returned: his absence remains a mystery. Paul no longer lives in the apartment, but Raoul's still there as the resident who has been there the longest.

Raoul's been a healthy animal to date but, a couple of weeks ago, he got himself into some type of brawl, coming home with an obvious injury above his left eye. He was brought into the vet, where he needed to be sedated so that the injury could be cleaned up and treated. Paul thought that perhaps Raoul had got himself into a bust up with a local fox that had been spotted nearby, but it's more likely that he'd been involved in a tussle with another tom cat.

Cats are territorial creatures, even when they've been neutered, and Raoul was probably just defending his own patch against a marauder.

Raoul has made a rapid recovery. He may be left with a small scar above his eye, but Paul's not worried about that. After all, if you're called Raoul and you live above the best pub in the world, there's no harm in having a few stories to tell.

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