I was asked to write a short history of the premises from my own family memory, and the following will likely raise some further memories amongst those who were customers and friends down the years.
(And no, contrary to rumours, I will not be bidding to return to the business that I myself left in the 70s.)
who established the name and the reputation from the early 1950s.
Building on the epic story of 19th century pugilist Dan Donnelly, who had his famous fight with English champion George Cooper on the nearby Curragh, and with the help of his acquisition of that famed fighter's mummified right arm, the Hideout became a place of many firsts.
It was the first museum pub in Ireland, that gnarled right arm becoming the centrepiece of a truly eclectic collection of memorabilia from all parts of the world, many of the items brought in by customers from their own travels. It was a place to be talked about, and where the talk itself was special. It ranged from travel, through golf, horses, local gossip, the state of the nation, even politics was allowed in an environment where political opinions of all shades were accepted and accommodated.
achieved fame, or notoriety, as far away as the front page of the Sunday Times of London and even in New York newspapers. At home, it raised both chuckles of appreciation and many glasses of after-hours alcoholic beverage, while the Guards were left legally in the cold outside.
But most of all it was the place where people travelling from Kilkenny and further south, and from Dublin going south, always stopped when Kilcullen was still on the main road between the capital and Waterford. This was a reflection of the decades over which it had been the bus stop, an important halt on the journey with time for refreshment and other necessities. It was also to where many on other main roads detoured for a food stop, or simply to say hello to Jim Byrne and enjoy a space and period of relaxation.
In the late 1990s, Des and Jo decided to retire from the business and it then left the Byrne family, ending an era which had begun in December 1925 when James J Byrne Snr bought what was then Flanagan's Motor Bar and turned it into Byrne's Hotel.
Since then, the premises has had a number of other operators, each putting their own stamp on a trade which nationally has been in a state of flux.
Today, while Kilcullen is no longer on a main road, it certainly it is not a difficult detour from the M9 which has bypassed what is a village grown bigger. And that last is the thing particularly going for The Hideout, a public house stand waiting for an owner with a 21st century version of Jim Byrne's flair for hospitality and welcome. Kilcullen has grown three-fold since the turn of the millennium, and a new population is now mature and established. Most of them won't know the detail of what the Hideout was, but it is still a space with tangible tradition, waiting for the same spirit of innovation which turned a simple crossroads pub into an international icon in the 1950s, to establish a similar reputation in the second half of the 2010s.
In the dominant position it occupies on the very busy crossroads that is the link between mid-Kildare and the popular weekend and tourist season drives of Wicklow, it is an open canvas ready for a new publican artist with imagination. With lots of parking nearby, and constantly increasing local and crossing traffic, it can become again a destination pub and restaurant for a new owner with the right experience and flair.