LLR Books

Matt Kane's Bit O'Ireland



Matthew J. Kane was the owner of Matt Kane's Bit O'Ireland, one of the city's best-known Irish pubs for many decades that was located at 1118 13th St. NW. The bar opened in 1960. House speaker Tip O'Neill and Senator Robert F. Kennedy  were customers.

For years, it was the only Irish bar in DC.

Although Kane reported that St. Patrick's Day was his most profitable day of the year, he said he didn’t like the green beer now synonymous with the holiday pointing out that it was simply American draft with green food coloring sold at an inflated price. "Somebody discovered that you could put food color in Budweiser and charge an extra quarter for it and everybody would think it's Irish,"  Kane said. "Irish whiskey and Guinness draft -- that's Irish."
 Kane was a native of Chicago who served aboard submarines in the Pacific during World War 2. He moved to Washington after the war and operated guesthouses in the city before opening his tavern.
For years Kane, one of his sons was a police officer as was his daughter and son-in-law,   hosted an event called "Maids' Night Out," when Irish domestic workers would drop by to make friends with U.S. Marines on leave.
"Everybody goes out (On St. Patrick’s Day) and gets drunk and then blames it on the Irish," Kane told the Washington. "But what the heck. Nothing wrong with a good party."