Do you remember the story IrishCentral ran just over a year ago, the one about the Irish American family who managed to save their ancestral pub in Raphoe, Co. Donegal? Hugh McGranaghan had been born in the apartment above the the Tirconaill House in Raphoe, along with his two brothers and sister, and his mother ran the pub and worked behind the bar well into her 90s.
When Hugh died five years ago, he left the pub, the property and five houses around it to his daughter, Michelle McGranahan Pabon, and her siblings.
With all of them living in the US (Hugh emigrated to Elmhurst, NY, raised a family and opened the Donegal Pub, which he ran for 40 years), the question of what to do was a big one. They were told by family and friends to just “put a match to it.”
But the memories of their grandmother and father were so strong there that they couldn’t just give up on it. So Michelle and her husband renovated one of the houses, and then her cousin on her mother’s side agreed to help fix up the rest and re-open the pub, with Michelle’s brother taking care of the finances from overseas. They were delighted to honor their ancestors while bringing life to a small town.
However, Michelle recently contacted IrishCentral to say that “with a heavy heart we had to close the doors of the Tirconaill Pub. The two hour daily commute from County Down was taking a toll on my cousin Anne and her husband Nicky’s health.”
However, the last thing they wanted was to have the pub shutter its doors permanently. Her brother, Mick, put an advertisement in the Donegal Daily and the family was pleasantly surprised with the results.
She was happy to inform us that James McCarron and Shona Stewart has taken on the venture. “They read about the pub and took interest in its rich history. They are truly creative, motivated and a hard working team.
“In this short time they have made some major improvements in the pub,” she said. “They put a dance floor and party lights in the lounge and gave the outside a new paint job with flower boxes and a new sign that you can’t miss when you enter the small town. They just received a complimentary letter from Raphoe’s Tidy Towns Committee acknowledging the beauty and tidy presentation of the Tirconaill Raphoe Pub.”
They’ve even begun themed nights throughout the week, including Thursday night jiving classes, Friday night darts and Chase the Ace (the card game), and live music from local bands.
Michelle added that her favorite new addition is “the free transport. James has a minivan with the bar’s logo on it. He uses it to drive patrons to special events and give a ride home to if they had too much to drink.”
“Although my siblings Mick, Maureen, Kathleen and I wish we could be the ones running the Tirconaill Pub, we have the faith that James and Shona are the next best thing!”
She was also happy to inform us that her sister Maureen recently gave birth to her first child, named Conal Hugh – after the Tirconaill and their father and brother Hugh, both of whom passed away.
“My husband and I recently came back from Ireland and we were very pleased with Granny’s Pub,” Michelle told us. “This is definitely not the same pub that I use to visit when my Granny, Catherine McGranaghan was working.
“However, there are a lot of things that are still the same like having a friendly place to go to, sharing some stories from the past and having a bit of “craic”. There is still a picture of my Granny behind the bar with a great big smile. I bet she is still smiling down at the thought that after all these years her pub is still open and it’s pretty cool!”
You can follow the Tirconaill Pub on Facebook.