Proud history of Blake’s Bar recognised at Vintners’ Association dinner dance

Victor Wilkin of the Donegal Vintners’ Federation presents the special award to Kevin and Anne Blake of Blake’s Bar. Also included from left are John Clendennen, President of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, Cllr Martin Harley, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Alice Lynch, President of the Donegal Vintners’ Federation and Minister Charlie McConalogue.

By Diarmaid Doherty

THE owner of Blake’s Bar in Letterkenny, Kevin Blake said he was humbled and very proud that his pub has been honoured with a special award by the Donegal Vintners’ Association.


The premises at 50 Upper Main Street has remained in the same family ownership for over 180 years – a remarkable business story that was celebrated with a special recognition award at the Donegal Vintners’ annual dinner dance in the Mount Errigal Hotel.

Kevin and his wife Anne were presented with the award at Thursday night’s event and Kevin said he was genuinely surprised at the presentation.

“It was a lovely gesture by the Vintners Association and it is very much appreciated,” he said.

“We have always been very proud of the history of Blake’s Bar and I suppose the fact that it has stayed within the family after all these years is pretty remarkable. And for the Vintners’ Association to recognise that and organise this award is so nice.”

Kevin has owned Blake’s since the passing of his brother Raymond in March 2019.

The premises has a proud history, dating all the way back to 1842 when it was established by John Doherty.

His son Patrick Doherty Snr. became the second owner, while Patrick Doherty Jnr., a nephew of Patrick Snr., was the bar’s third proprietor.


Patrick Jnr’s son, Philip Doherty took over from his father, and Philip was also on the first Letterkenny team to win the Donegal Senior Football Championship in 1927.

Formerly known as The Lagan Bar and Doherty’s, the bar was renamed in 1959 when Maire Doherty, the daughter of Philip Doherty, married Harry Blake.

Harry and Maire’s son, Raymond Blake, became the sixth generation of the family to take charge following the passing of Harry in January 2017.

Over the years Blake’s has enjoyed a strong association with St. Eunan’s GAA club and a fantastic array of photographs on its walls offer a fantastic window into times gone by in Letterkenny.

“In recent times, we have carried out a few changes to the pub and there has been a fair bit of refurbishment,” Kevin said.

“But I think we have managed to maintain the special feeling of friendliness and tradition that our pub has always enjoyed.

“It’s a place where people always came for conversation, company and a bit of craic, and thankfully, that’s still the case after all these years.

“Myself and Raymond would be the sixth generation of the family to have owned the bar and it’s nice now that there is the seventh generation of the family involved with my own children Harry and Annie also part of the staff,” Kevin added.

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