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All About The Irishman

A singer, guitarist, songwriter, entertainer, comedian, world traveler, and bar owner are all words that describe Irish Kevin.

Kevin has been singing and playing guitar for the best part of 45 years, having started at an early age in his hometown of Carrick-on-Suir in the south of Ireland. Before he even hit his teens, he was singing in local musical productions such as Aladdin, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Oliver Twist, just to name a few. As soon as he reached his seventeenth birthday and got his driver's license, he started playing guitar and singing in bars

and clubs all over Ireland.

“The first thing I did was I went to all the places that had live music on the weekends and made a list of songs that people liked to hear and sing,” says Kevin. “Then I learned as many of those songs as I could and offered the bar owners to play the first night for free. Before I knew it, I was playing 3 and 4 nights a week. It was brilliant, I was getting paid to do what I loved and what I was good at.”

As his confidence grew into his late teens, Kevin went further afield and performed throughout Europe in such countries as Switzerland, France, Germany, and England. ”I caught the travel bug at an early age, and what an amazing way to see different places and experience so many different cultures.”

Kevin went to college and tried his best to study, but his love for music, and especially his love for performing live, proved too much of a distraction, and soon after his college days had started, they were over.

Into his early 20s, he continued to perform, write, and record songs and bounce from one bartending job to another, and then, at the ripe old age of 23, he made a life-changing decision. Like so many of his fellow Irish men and women, he emigrated to the United States.

In May of 1986, his travels first brought him to Columbia, Maryland, and after spending some quality family time with his relatives, he spent the next 3 years in Boston and beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


“I immediately fell in love with America. I loved the sense of adventure, freedom, and opportunity and knew straight away that I wanted to spend the rest of my life here.”

Kevin played with a 3 piece Irish folk group called “The Boys From Eire” and performed all over the States.

“We played everywhere, even Hawaii, I had a blast. What an exciting way it was to see America.”

In the late ’80s, Kevin started to play only solo shows, and in 1992, having performed up and down the East Coast for another 3 years, he went to beautiful Key West, Florida, for a little 2-week break.

On his first night in town, just for fun, he jumped onstage and impressed the owners so much that they offered him a full-time job.

“I remember that night so well,“ says Kevin. “It completely changed the direction of my life. I suddenly had the option of performing at a bar on a beautiful island to a different audience every night. It was November, 85 degrees and sunny. It was either stay here or head back up north to the cold weather. It was a quick and easy decision.” It wasn’t long before he made Key West his permanent home.

Kevin started playing at Rum Runners on the famous Duval Street in November of 92’ and performed there for 6 years until July of '98.


“What a blast that was. The owner of the bar and I had a wonderful working relationship, and I could practically play whenever I wanted and had the freedom to play whatever I wanted. I performed mostly from 7-11 ( without taking a break ) 5 nights a week and really got to know what people wanted to hear on their very well-deserved trip down to this beautiful paradise island.”

Key West is a very popular tourist-driven destination. People come here from all over the States and from around the world to enjoy the beautiful weather and all the wonderful and exciting water activities. Live music is everywhere, and Kevin fit in perfectly.

“I was doing what I loved," said Kevin.” I was playing music at night and going to the beach during the day. What a wonderful 6 years that was.”
Kevin always had the desire and dream of owning his own bar, and in 1998, that dream became a reality. Through his pure passion and willingness to risk everything he had, the owner of an already established business gave Kevin the amazing opportunity to take over and open his own bar. And so on July 28th, 1998, Irish Kevin’s opened its doors on the busy 200 block of Duval St, Key West.

“It was an absolutely unreal feeling,” remembers Kevin. “Suddenly, I owned a bar on one of the busiest tourist streets in the country. “But I was soon to learn how difficult it is to start and run a business,” says Kevin.
“The first couple of years were extremely difficult, and they’re were many times when I honestly didn’t think we were going to make it. We had to overcome a number of hurricanes and certain other unfortunate setbacks.”

Kevin played every day and many times two shows a day, and eventually, it all started to pay off. He brought in other solo entertainers, and it wasn’t long before Irish Kevin’s had a daily schedule of 16 hours of live music every single day of the year.

On July 28th, 2023, Irish Kevin’s celebrated 25 years since it opened its doors on the popular and famous Duval Street in beautiful Key West. In all that time, it has provided tourists and locals alike with over 145,000 hours of live music.

“I was born to sing and play music,” says Kevin. “And never in my life did I imagine that my passion would create so much fun for so many people for so long.” 

Kevin continues to perform about 4 shows a week at Irish Kevin’s and is always working on his other major passion of writing songs.

“I will keep singing and playing for as long as I can, and I will never take for granted how blessed. I am to do what I love for most of my life.”

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See Moments from Performances

Photos and videos from over the years. 

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