In the wake of Hurricane Irene nearly seven months ago, Barry O'Donovan, owner of the The Kilkenny House Restaurant & Pub in Cranford wondered if the popular local watering hole would ever re-open its doors to the public. But there's a lot to be said for "the luck of the Irish."
The bustling bar and eatery, located at 112 South Ave. East in downtown Cranford, was voted "best Irish pub in Union County" according to a recent Reader's Choice poll on Patch.
"It just goes to show you that out of tragedy comes triumph," owner Barry O'Donovan said.
When Hurricane Irene tore through the region in late August, the restaurant was submerged in more than 10 feet of water. From the basement to the main floor of the pub, everything was ruined. Floors and walls needed to be replaced, furniture restored and tons of food and drink replenished.
"You think Irene did you in, but this just goes to show you how many people were brought together by the tragedy. It wasn't just one person (who helped), it was everybody," O'Donovan said.
The smiling, humble native of Ireland said he was shocked, grateful and very happy by the results of the Reader's Choice poll.
"It's just unbelievable," he said, as he continued making preparations for the pub's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.
The restaurant will serve up approximately one ton of corned beef and cabbage - a St. Patrick's Day favorite made popular in America - as well as traditional Irish fare such as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, pub favorites such as burgers and appetizers and of course, beer. Swithwick's and Guinness, poured in a very specific way, will be among the most popular beverages patrons will enjoy this weekend. There's also a children's menu along with dessert and Irish coffee.
This evening, Irish musician Tim Harte will perform at 9:30 p.m. On Sunday nights, Kilkenny House features live, Irish music. On St. Patrick's Day, the bar will open at 10 a.m. for those who want to raise a glass early. The kitchReadeen will open at 11, but no reservations will be accepted.
Kilkenny House originally opened in Cranford on Sept. 10, 2008, then re-opened on Oct. 8, 2011 after renovations were completed following Hurricane Irene. Before that, O'Donovan began his career in the business with a restaurant in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. An avid family man, O'Donovan now lives and works in the township with his wife and children. The pub was named after Kilkenny City, located in Kilkenny County, Ireland. The city has a medieval heritage. Kilkenny Castle, in the heart of the city, attracts toursists from all over the world.
Here's a list of the Irish pubs in Union County that were featured in our Reader's Choice poll:
- Beacon Hill Tavern, Summit 21 (5%)
- Blackthorne Pub, Kenilworth 25 (6%)
- Emerald's Irish Pub, Springfield 4 (1%)
- Flannery's Pub, Fanwood 43 (11%)
- J.B. Winberie, Summit 14 (3%)
- Kilkenny House, Cranford 138 (36%)
- McLynn's, Springfield 45 (11%)
- Molly Maguire's, Clark 47 (12%)
- The Publick House, Mountainside 39 (10%)
Total votes: 376