Thursday 24 May 2018

Owner of famous Dublin pub 'The Gravediggers' passes away: 'Glasnevin has lost a great man'


Eugene Kavanagh owner of Kavanaghs Public House in Glasnevin pictured chatting with the Evening Herald's Conor Feehan.
Eugene Kavanagh owner of Kavanaghs Public House in Glasnevin pictured chatting with the Evening Herald's Conor Feehan.
Kavanaghs Pub aka 'The Gravediggers' in Glasnevin.

Dublin publican Eugene Kavanagh has died.

The Glasnevin native was the sixth generation in his family to run the renowned John Kavanagh pub, nicknamed 'The Gravediggers'.

Eugene, aged in his mid-70s, was a well-known marathon runner and a respected racehorse owner. He bravely battled cancer in recent months.

His pub, beside the old entrance of Glasnevin Cemetery in Prospect Square, has been praised in guidebooks as one of Dublin's most authentic traditional pubs.

Kavanagh protected its 19th-century character by banning televisions, radio and piped music.

Opened in 1833, the pub was declared by the Lonely Planet guidebook as one of Europe's top 50 secret spots for travellers, in a list entitled 'Secret Europe: 50 Truly Unforgettable Experiences to Inspire Your Next Trip'. Several feature films also included scenes shot in the pub.

"I was offered €20m for it in 2006, but why would I sell history, my heritage, and all that I've known since I was a boy?" he told the Herald last year.


"Respect everybody and never forget where you came from," he explained, when asked the secret of running a popular pub.

"We get successful millionaires in here sitting chatting with people who barely have the price of a pint. That's what it should be all about," he added.

He recalled childhood memories of gravediggers working in the cemetery next door having an unusual way of ordering a pint while working.

He remembered the many secret knocks that used to come on the wall of the bar, and how he would then carry out the rounds of drinks to the thirsty workmen and "pass them through the railings".

He took up running in his mid-30s and ran more than 100 marathons and ultra-marathons.

Clonliffe Harriers athletics club posted a website tribute, describing him as "a great friend" of the club. Eugene sponsored the Clonliffe 2, Ireland's oldest road race, for the past 30 years.

"He was a very fit man, a non-drinker, and news of his illness earlier this year came as a great shock to his friends in Clonliffe. He, as any who knew him would have expected, battled away bravely. But today his race was run. Glasnevin has lost a great man," stated the club's tribute.

His horses included War Room, Roryslittlesister, House Limits and Love Rory.

He died at Bon Secours Hospital in Glasnevin on Friday and his funeral will be at 11am tomorrow at St Columba's Church, Iona Road, followed by burial in Glasnevin Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughters Anne and Sinead, sons Anthony, Eoin, Ciaran and Niall, eight grandchildren, sisters Kathleen and Phyllis, relatives and friends.

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