The Irish Times' Generation Emigration project is on the hunt for the best Irish pub in the world outside Ireland. The following is one of the entries we've received so far. To read more, or find out how to nominate your favourite Irish pub abroad, click here.
Since moving to America nearly a decade ago I’ve visited many an Irish bar and I’ve found its definition is broad, to say the least. It stretches all the way from something that vaguely resembles a pub from home, to bars that have no connection to the auld sod at all apart from a neon shamrock sign in the window donated by one beer company or another.
Kitty Hoyne’s pub and restaurant in Syracuse, New York is the best of the lot. About the size of Galway, the city of Syracuse has deep Irish roots that stretch back to the 1800s, when Irish people moved over here in droves to help build the Erie Canal.
Named after his mother, the bar was founded in 1999 by David and Cindy Hoyne. David, a Kilkenny native, moved over to Washington DC in the 80s. There he met Cindy and eventually moved to Syracuse, her hometown.
Since opening, the bar has been a great source of employment for Irish people including myself, lads and lassies from all over the country and numerous nieces and nephews of the owner. Like many an Irish bar, it’s the focal point for emigrants young and old, fresh off the boat or first, second and third generations.
It gets some of the best bands from the North East, Canada and Ireland. It’s the place where I met my amazing wife, made friends for life and where I go when I need a little taste of home. It’s also home to the Gaelic football club and a running club founded by William Hoyne, a nephew of David.
Kitty Hoyne’s connection to the community is probably even more impressive. Since 2005 they have been involved with a charity called St Baldrick’s. Founded in 1999 by three friends in NYC, the charity raises money to help fight children’s cancer. As the name implies, men, women, girls and boys raise money for the charity by getting donations to shave their heads.
Today the charity is the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants and Kitty Hoyne’s has played a major part by raising over $3 million to date. Last year alone they raised nearly half a million dollars. Year after year this local bar in a small upstate city consistently punches above its weight and ranks second in the world in contributions to the charity.
Having an Irish bar over here is easy, but going beyond ól, ceol agus craic to make a true difference to the community both locally and nationally is a lot harder to do. Thanks to the dedication of the Hoyne family, present and past employees and all the volunteers for St Baldrick's, Kitty Hoynes accomplishes it all in stride. kittyhoynes.com
Think your favourite Irish pub abroad could claim the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland)? Tell us about it by entering the competition here.