Martin’s Bar na d’Taoisigh is owned and run by Pat and Carmel Gilmore. The building itself is something special, having been built by Ballygar landlord, Denis Kelly, around 200 years ago.
These days it’s home to the Gilmores and one of Ballygar’s most popular venues. It’s also home to an impressive collection; portraits of former Taoisigh.
The impressive collection was donated to the town of Ballygar by the then London secretary of the GMB Union, Sir Paul Kenny, in 1994, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ballygar Carnival.
Sir Paul considered Ballygar home, despite being born in the UK. In fact, it is said the only reason Sir Paul wasn’t born in Galway is because his mother, rather understandably, decided not to endure the unstable ferry crossing from Hollyhead as she had done for her three older children.
Paul Kenny was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 2015 ‘for services to trades unions’ having risen to the position of General Secretary of the GMB in 2005.
Standing in Bar na d’Taoisigh, Pat Gilmore explains how the portraits came into his possession.
“The collection was donated to the town by the GMB Union in 1994; Paul was a great supporter of the Ballygar Carnival. It was unveiled by John Bruton in 1995,” he said.
It was decided to display the collection in a public place in the town and so a lottery draw took place, which Martin’s Public House won.
The three most recent Taoisigh are currently missing in action, namely Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar, but Pat hopes to secure at least one of the portraits in the near future.
“We are of course hoping to complete the collection and at the moment we are still looking to get one of the three,” Pat added.
A lot has changed in Ballygar since the former MP for Roscommon, Denis Kelly, built Martin’s, but one thing has remained the same; powerful men are still propping up the walls in the public house.