Co:Irish pub celebrates 25 years of 'The Black Stuff'
Former owner Philip MacKenna's brother suggested that he and his wife Cathy open an Irish pub in the Grand-Duchy - which they did in 1992.
The Black Stuff Irish pub gave a hundred thousand welcomes (céad míle fáilte) to customers past and present for its 25th anniversary celebration on Saturday.
It was former owner Philip MacKenna's brother who first suggested that he and his wife Cathy open an Irish pub in the Grand-Duchy - which they did in 1992. They furnished and decorated it much like a country pub in Ireland.
"It was very popular from the start, with both locals and expatriates," he recalls.
Today the draft Guinness is served up by proprietor Caolan O'Neill from Monaghan and his partner Rose Plahe, who moved to Luxembourg in 2010 and took over the bar two years ago when the MacKennas retired.
"The pub hasn't changed much in 25 years. When it opened it was a novelty for expats because it had this cosy, quaint atmosphere and we have never changed that," says Caolan.
A bit of Ireland in the heart of Europe
French, German, Luxembourgish and Irish customers sample a variety of whiskies, Irish craft beers, Kilkenny and the "black stuff" (Guinness) that gives the pub its name.
Over the years it has served drinks to actors Brendan Gleeson, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Dorff and Linda Hamilton, as well as tennis players Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.
Regular customer John has been coming to the pub since it first opened: "It's like having a bit of Ireland in the heart of Europe. In fact there are actually very few traditional pubs like this left in Ireland. Over the years Irish people arriving in Luxembourg could always come to The Black Stuff for help or advice about getting work and accommodation or just to meet a friendly face."
The pub hosts music sessions every month and shows live coverage of soccer and Gaelic football matches. It also sponsors Luxembourg men's Gaelic football team.
"Back in the 1990s the first European Gaelic football championship was run from this place, with France, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg fielding teams," recalls John.
Former customers and staff from across the continent joined Caolan to celebrate the pub's silver anniversary with live music from Ross Steele.
"This small business is now a landmark in Luxembourg, which is incredible at a time when things like VAT increases have affected so many cafes and bars," says John.
Retired owner Philip puts the pub's success down to "hard work, a good 'craic', and a warm welcome by the fire."