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Secrets behind Shenanigans in Southsea

August 9, 2023

As the only Irish bar in Portsmouth, Shenanigans brings a little bit of Ireland and a pretty good pint of Guinness to Southsea. Owner Iain Kirby shares some secrets behind its continued success.

The bar dates back to owner Iain Kirby’s departure from the Royal Navy in 2008 with the plan to do “something different”.  Back then, Shenanigans was a derelict estate agent. Over time Iain has transformed the building into the thriving bar that it is today.

The Irish theme takes inspiration from its sister bar Kitty O’Hanlons in Plymouth and Iain’s family heritage.

Iain said:

“Everywhere you go in the world there is an Irish bar. There wasn’t one in Portsmouth, the home of the Royal Navy. So, I decided to theme it as an Irish bar.”

Working for himself has motivated Iain.  “For 24 years I was in the Navy, so you’re always answerable to somebody no matter what rank you are. I could have gone one way or another but decided to start my own business, and for some reason, I picked a bar.”

Iain wants his customers to feel at home in Shenanigans.

He describes the bar as a “big living room…with a good, friendly, safe atmosphere.”

Everyday a great Irish breakfast starts the day. Sport, especially rugby matches, and live Irish music are regular events.  St. Patrick’s Day is particularly special with live music throughout the day and night.

Looking to the future, Iain wants his bar to survive. After the loss of other business since the lockdown period, Iain says:

“The hardest part of running a business is now.  Southsea is quieter at the minute with the loss of major stores. My costs have increased but I can’t put my prices up, otherwise nobody would come out. So, my aim is to keep trading and do what I’m doing.”

Shenanigans has been a staple in Southsea for fourteen years. Iain is confident success will continue, “We’ve got a very good following, fantastic regulars and a great team of staff. It’s on top, so hopefully, it’ll continue.”

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