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Inistioge publican Johnny (57) Johnny lived simply and gave generously

Johnny treated everyone as a friend first and then a customer


The late Inistioge publican Johnny O'Donnell.

The late Inistioge publican Johnny O'Donnell.

The late Inistioge publican Johnny O'Donnell.


Dark clouds hang over Inistioge following the very sudden passing of the hugely popular Johnny O’Donnell of O’Donnell’s Bar (The Spots), Inistioge.

Johnny passed away suddenly aged 57 on December 30.

He worked in the pub from a very young age, having learned the ropes early and was always extremely popular with his customers. Johnny treated everyone as a friend first and then a customer.

Johnny touched the lives of so many. He was full of warmth, wit, kindness, patience and love. He was unique and is utterly irreplaceable. Johnny knew everybody and their story, but he was the soul of discretion. Irrespective of who you were or where you hailed from Johnny offered the warmest of welcomes and hospitality from what is, by and large, a bygone era, both inside and outside the pub.

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When times were tough, Johnny was never found wanting, and it was always done in a quiet and discreet manner. A customer remembers fondly one evening, when funds were low and he was about to call it an early night when a mysterious pint appeared in front of him. He looked to the bar and was met with a gentle nod and a knowing smile from the man himself. He said he saw that same mysterious pint appear before many others over the years in the Spotted Dog.

Another great customer mentioned in his lovely poem about O’Donnell’s, a Christmas drink could appear in every month of the year. Material things meant nothing to Johnny who lived simply and gave generously.

A visit to Inistioge wasn't complete without a few drinks in "The Spots," to use a local nickname. John and his late brother James were the heart and soul of the pub and irrespective of who you were or where you hailed from the warmest of welcomes was assured. The personal service and hospitality was in a way a throwback to a bygone era and the personality of the two brothers and best friends ensured it would never be any other way.

Johnny’s love and knowledge of all sports would put Des Cahill to shame. From his love of the horses, to cheering on his beloved Kilkenny and his local hurling club the Rower Inistioge, his passion and knowledge knew no bounds.

While it was always Kilkenny for the small ball, it was Donegal when it came to the big ball, forever proud and never forgetting his family roots in far away Dún na Gall.

Johnny cared for his dad and mam, Eddie and Peg and brother James with love, patience and compassion when their health began to fail them.

Johnny loved the break from the bar during the lockdown. He got to enjoy the lighter, healthier side of life, walking his beloved loyal dog Glen down the Point Road and meeting the great community of Inistioge and far beyond.

His love for his family, his nieces and nephews was immeasurable. Johnny had numerous friends and great neighbours. They looked out for Johnny, offered him great company and returned his hospitality.

"When God made Johnny he threw away the mould. If there was such a thing, he was Mr Inistioge,” his sister Catherine said.

A crowd gathered for Johnny’s funeral mass at in St Colmcille’s Church, Inistioge, which was followed by his burial afterwards in Cappagh Cemetery.

May Johnny rest in peace with his mother Peg, father Eddie and brother James. “You are forever in our hearts.”

He is survived by his loving family, brother Danny and sisters Helen, Maria and Catherine.