A Monaster’ smash in fine Finlay's!
CJ FINLAY, MONASTEREVIN, CO. KILDARE
THE Old Commando will never forget his first ever visit to Monasterevin town in Co. Kildare. No, it wasn’t to check out the local watering holes (although we’re sure he did that too), it was due to the infamous siege that took place in St Evin’s Park in 1975, one of the first stories he covered as a young hack.
The 40th anniversary of that occasion occurs this year and the Old Commando was happy to be back in the area in better circumstances.
“I’ll never forget that siege as long as I live,” he said, as we left HQ and made the hour-long trip to Kildare.
We were excited to check out CJ Finlay’s pub at the end of Dublin Street. There is a car park beside the bar, but unfortunately it was full so we parked on Main Street beside the Bank of Ireland.
A friendly barmaid was on hand to serve us immediately and we dispatched the Young Commando to the counter to get the drinks in. He placed our order with the barmaid as the rest of the troops made themselves comfortable in the green velvet bench seating across from the bar. They appeared to be very old and one of our Commandos suggested they weren’t installed yesterday.
There was a mixed clientele and the barmaid certainly had a good rapport with the crowd sitting at the bar. The atmosphere was good and there was plenty of banter flying back and forth.
The pints of plain set us back €4.10 and the Old Commando gave it the thumbs up as he wiped the cream from his upper lip.
One regular was complaining to the barmaid that the timber barstools didn’t have back support and although he was clearly joking, we did agree with him.
We preferred the red and green velvet barstools that were located at the opposite end of the bar. There are two TVs in the front bar and the Young Commando said there are at least two more in the second section.
There are plenty of GAA photos throughout the pub of the local Ballykelly football team and Ros Glas hurling side but the one that caught the eye of the Old Commando was of the 1998 Kildare side that was beaten by Galway in the All-Ireland final.
There was an inset picture of the now retired John Doyle which captioned him ‘The Hero of a County’ and the Old Commando said that was certainly an accurate description.
“He carried Kildare for years. Just look how much they’ve declined since he hung up the boots. He was the only natural scoring forward they had,” he said.
The Old Commando searched the walls, but he couldn’t locate any photos from Monasterevin’s historic Leinster Intermediate football triumph in 2012.
“That was a great occasion,” one local told him. “It wasn’t the prettiest to watch, but a win’s a win,” he joked with the Old Commando.
The Young Commando passed through the second section as he went to check out the loos and he told us there was a jukebox, a gaming machine, a dartboard and stage and a pool table located here.
The toilets were clean, with three urinals and one cubicle and the electric dryer worked. There is a sign in the hallway warning customers not to smoke in this section or in the loos, and thankfully we didn’t see anyone doing either.
We had a good time in Finlay’s bar in Monasterevin and we hope to visit the area again in the future.
*** Three-pint rating