Crowes Pub – this traditional family-owned pub is the oldest and most famous rugby pub in Dublin
Crowes Pub was established in 1906 by Timothy and Catherine Crowe who hailed from Limerick and Tipperary respectively. Their friendship with the legendary Michael Collins and Sean Treacy, who drank in the pub, gave rise to the occasional raid by the Black & Tans. Timothy Crowe was a great GAA man and was on the organising committee which first acquired and then set up Croke Park. In 1920, Timothy Crowe with his son Philip (grandfather and father of David Crowe, the current proprietor) were at the infamous match in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday when many innocent spectators were shot dead by the Black & Tans. It was a lucky escape for an ex-employee of Crowes who was playing that day.
Timothy and Catherine Crowe had two sons – Morgan and Philip (Phil). The marriage of Phil to Maura Quinn united two great sporting families. In the field of rugby, the combined tradition and history on both sides of the family has no equal. David Crowe can proudly cite no less than eight family members who played rugby at senior level for Leinster. These were: his father Phil Crowe, his five uncles – Morgan Crowe and his mother’s brothers Paddy, Frank, Gerry and Kevin Quinn as well as his first cousin James Crowe and cousin through marriage, Redmond Doran. In addition, David’s father Phil, three uncles Morgan Crowe, Gerry and Kevin Quinn and cousin James Crowe all played rugby for Ireland. Morgan was also selected for the Lions while David himself was selected for the Irish under-25 squad and played rugby for Leinster at different levels.
Both sides of the family have been well-represented on many cup winning sides at club and schools rugby levels over the years. The 25th and 27th S.C.T. cup winning sides for Blackrock were captained in 1925 and 1928 respectively by Morgan and Phil while Morgan’s son Tim was on the 50th cup winning side in 1964. Club rugby saw the family spread its wings with Morgan playing for Lansdowne, Phil for Blackrock and the four Quinn brothers for Belvedere (a tradition repeated by their sons). The three clubs enjoyed a healthy rivalry especially when the Holy Ghosts played the Jesuits. The same competitive spirit applied to schools rugby and here again the family played its part. On the Crowe side, Morgan’s three sons Tim, Morgan Junior and James and Phil’s four sons, Tim, David, Michael and Philip all played schools rugby for Blackrock. On the Quinn side, Paddy Quinn’s son Paddy Junior and Kevin Quinn’s son Kevin Junior both played schools and club rugby for Belvedere as did Redmond Doran and Brendan Jackson (who married members of the Quinn family). All are well-known Belvederians. The family also provided several former Presidents of Belvedere Rugby Club the gates to which were erected in memory of Paddy Quinn Senior.
The family’s sporting prowess did not stop at rugby and extended to cricket and tennis. David’s uncles, the four Quinn brothers, all played cricket for Ireland while David and his three brothers, Tim and twins Michael and Philip, all played tennis at class one level with the twins narrowly missing out being on a Davis Cup side. Many other members of the immediate and extended family excelled at sport and the tradition is continued today by the younger generation.
The pub is a treasure trove of sporting memorabilia diligently assembled over the years by David Crowe. The collection (with some items signed by sporting stars) includes rugby caps, jerseys and medals, the triple crown-winning rugby ball from 1982, photographs capturing famous tries, J.C.T. photographs from 1921 and a most impressive photographic record of the S.C.T. Leinster winning sides from 1960 to the present day as well as numerous other artefacts and rugby souvenirs.
The famous ‘Crowbars’ annual dinner held in Wanderers Rugby Club owes its name and origins to Crowes Pub. Established in the sixties, it was to Crowes that the wandering ‘Crowbars’ returned each Sunday for the all-important post-match analysis and performance review.
Culture played its part too in the history of Crowes Pub whose patrons counted many literary giants of their day. Poets and playwrights, such as Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan, mingled at the bar while a certain Myles Na Gopaleen alias Flann O’Brien alias Brian O’Nolan was known to have left a vehicle which was not mechanically propelled (namely a car without an engine) outside the pub door in a fiendishly clever plot to out-manoeuvre An Garda Síochana.
Despite the untimely death of his grandfather Timothy in 1926, David’s grandmother, Catherine, continued to manage the pub while at the same time looking after her teenage boys and the whole family lived over the pub. A well-known face in the neighbourhood and loyal to the family, Jack Fennell worked as the pub porter for 49 years until his death in 1968. He was responsible for the pub bottling and labelling its own whiskey, stout and beer. In the early fifties, David’s father, Phil, took over from his grandmother. Phil’s wife, Maura, added home-cooked food to provide a true tavern experience. David and his brother Tim began working in the pub alongside their parents in the late sixties and became an integral part of the business. David, who has now worked in the pub for well over forty years, continues the Crowe tradition of friendly hospitality and is the third generation of the Crowe family to run the pub which is one of the oldest family-owned pubs in the country.
Visit Crowes Pub today and enjoy a hearty welcome with a friendly chat and a trip down memory lane!