End of an era as last orders sound out at Alice's Restaurant in Naas

A cultural centre in the town

Paul O'Meara

Reporter:

Paul O'Meara

Email:

paul@leinsterleader.ie

End of an era as last orders sound out at Alice's Restaurant in Naas

Eileen O'Carroll of Alice's Restaurant

Alice’s Restaurant, named after the Arlo Guthrie song of the same name and which itself was an anti-Vietnam War song recorded in 1967, has closed.

Operated by Eileen O’Carroll at the Moat Mall, off North Main Street, Naas, it opened in October 1991. Guthrie sang that you can anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. And that was true, or largely true. Apart from producing home cooking and “spectacular cakes”, Eileen’s coffee shop was a venue for all manner of entertainment — gigs, acoustic gigs, CD launches, comedy nights an one act or one person plays.

The outside plaza was used for set dancing with music provided by Kilteel Eadestown comhaltas first staged a culture night, an event which evolved into culture weekend.

Then along came the arrival of the Midsummer Arts Festival, launched in Naas and Sallins in 2016.

“The highlights for me were music by Paddy Casey, Luke Bloom, Liam O Maonlai, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Don Mescall, Frankie Lane, Noel Heavey, Jackie Daly and Matt Cranitch. Often there would be a session afterwards so there was not a lot of sleep had on those nights,” Eileen reflected.

She added: “Abie Philbin Bowman and Aindreas de Staic provided comedy with people coming back for second helpings and young artists like Saoirse Casey and Keith Plunkett performed as they started out on their careers.”

She says that Naas author Margaret Scott wrote her novels there. Bricfeasta as Gaeilge was a regular fixture on Saturday mornings.

“Hearing the language I was brought up with brought back lovely memories of childhood in Two Mile House,” she said.

But the two moments she will treasure was the hosting of The Unmanageable Revolutionaries, the history of a Co. Kildare woman who took part in the 1916 rising and the staging of an annual event remembering the poetry of Co. Tipperary native and Naas resident, the late Dennis O’Driscoll and last year’s event took place in the town hall in Naas.

Alice’s closed at the end of 2017, and, typically, reopened a few days later for a session hosted by Eileen’s daughter Emma.

“I had the best of staff and a particular thanks to Marie, who got given the title ‘Other Mother’.

“Very many thanks to my customers and friends for your support for 26 years and 27 Christmases.”