Portsmouth’s Irish bar famous for its quality breakfasts marks nine years in business

SAT in Plymouth's legendary Irish bar Kitty O'Hanlon's more than 10 years ago, the idea struck Iain Kirby – he needed to bring a little piece of Ireland to Portsmouth.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 1:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:19 pm
Owner Ian Kirby with the Commonwealth Games Judo Champions including Jordan Mazzumi-Daltum (second from right). Picture : Habibur Rahman

At the time Iain was serving in the Royal Navy and he set about a plan to open his own Irish bar. 

Now nine years later, his bar Shenanigans, in Osborne Road, Southsea, is thriving – and has earned itself a solid reputation for serving some of the best breakfasts in the city. 

Not only does it serve breakfasts until 2pm six days a week, it’s also become known as the home of rugby – showing all major games. 

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Owner Ian Kirby with the Commonwealth Games Judo Champions including Jordan Mazzumi-Daltum (second from right). Picture : Habibur Rahman

Iain, from Southsea, said: ‘We are now in our 10th year. To celebrate our ninth birthday we had live music and a party. It was a great celebration as I never thought we would get here as I set up the business at the beginning of the recession, in a dying pub trade. 

‘So many people reminded me of those facts and I am proud to have proved them wrong as we are still here and going strong.’ 

A lot of work and money went in to setting up the bar, with Iain converting the former estate agents into an authentic Irish experience, complete with a Guinness-themed wall. 

It also serves a range of Guinness products such as Guinness regular and cold on tap, Open Gate Pilsner and Hop House 13. 

Staff of Shenanigans, Megan Wright, manager Mike Crisp, owner Iain Kirby and Hannah Johnson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

It also serves other Irish drinks like Magners cider - and has a growing collection of more than 100 whiskeys, which they hold tasting nights of once a month.  

It now employs seven staff - with Iain’s manager Mike Crisp working at the venue since day one. 

For Mike the bar holds a special place in his heart – as he met his girlfriend at Shenanigans and they have since bought a house and had their first child together. 

Iain says he’s proud to have built such a meaningful business and become part of the vibrant Southsea community. 

Iain Kirby Picture : Habibur Rahman

To show his support for the city, he has sponsored upcoming judo star Jordan Mazzumi-Daltum. 

The teenager has been picked for Team GB and has his sights set on the Commonwealth Games and even the Olympics. 

Iain, 50, said: ‘I am trying to help him out where we can as there’s no money given to judo. His family are having to fund his aspirations themselves. The fact that he has been picked so young is great. He’s a great inspiration. It’s all about supporting a local lad.’ 

So what does the next 10 years hold for Shenanigans? 

Shenanigans in Southsea. Picture : Habibur Rahman

‘We have the Six Nations final coming up, followed by St Patrick’s Day, then it’s the Rugby World Cup in Japan, 2019 going to be a busy year for us.’ said Iain.  

‘We have refurbed the bar, it’s a continual rolling project, and built a new kitchen. It’s a work in progress. 

‘But we will keep on doing what we do – and hopefully the customers will keep enjoying it.’