THE HISTORY OF SHENANIGANS – PORTSMOUTH’S ONLY IRISH BAR
By Iain Kirby – Owner
I was in the Royal Navy from the age of 17 and no matter where we were in the world it was always common for the first stop in any foreign port to be the local Irish bar. So I was always curious as to why Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy, did not have one.
The original idea for Shenanigans came to me about 10 years ago and became a scribble on a piece of scrap paper (which I still have)! I was still in the Navy and so the idea was filed away in the back of my mind for a later date.
After leaving the forces in 2008, I subconsciously started planning and looking for premises around Southsea, picturing my Irish bar and what it would look like. I came across the perfect location, on the sunny side of Osborne Road. Those of you familiar with Southsea might remember Stevens Estate Agents, which had been left empty for some time and had become derelict. My Irish bar had found a home.
BLOOD, SWEAT AND LATE NIGHTS
After the endless paperwork and getting the right licenses and planning permissions, I got the keys in my hand on 21st October 2009. The place was a real mess, so the first job was to strip the building bare, including taking down the three ceilings, which had gone up one on top of the other over the years. I stripped the plaster back to the brickwork, ripped out and removed the office space at the back of the building, knocked down partition walls, and filled skip after skip with rubble, wood, brick and rubbish until I had a clean shell to work with.
Money was tight, so I did all the initial demolition work myself. It was well into Autumn by this time and there was no electricity or heating, so most of the work was done by candlelight with just an old battery powered transistor radio for company!
The builders arrived on 1st November and Shenanigans began to take shape. Things moved quite quickly and I was lucky to have found an excellent team of specialist builders that often worked around the clock to meet the ambitious deadline.
With my licenses in place and staff ready to go, we opened the doors to Shenanigans on 15th December 2009 to become Portsmouth’s only Irish bar, a title we still hold today.