Looking for an authentic Irish pub experience? No need to jump across the pond.
Irish Pubs Global Federation, the industry voice of Irish pubs around the world, earlier this week named Savannah's own Kevin Barry's Pub the "Most Authentic Irish Pub" in the world for 2016.
The award was conferred Tuesday in Dublin, where some 600 delegates from the Irish Pub industry in Ireland and abroad attended the group's annual "Gathering."
More than 1,000 of the 7,000 Irish pubs worldwide sent entries this year.
"The Irish Pub continues to enjoy iconic status around the world and we're delighted to have so many pubs from home and abroad on this year's shortlist," said Enda O'Coineen, president of Irish Pubs Global. "Pubs continue to play a very important ambassadorial role for Ireland and this gathering is an opportunity to share new ideas and innovations and stories with our peers," he added.
In addition to being named "most authentic," Kevin Barry's was a finalist in three other categories, including Irish Pub of the Year and Marketing Campaign of the Year.
Kevin Barry's Brian Tillman was a finalist for Bartender of the Year.
This award is just one of many accolades the pub has received in recent years, including being ranked in the top 10 of "America's Best Irish Pubs" by americasbestonline.net and as one of the "Top Five Irish Pubs to visit on St. Patrick's Day" by ABC News.
Owner Vic Power jokingly cites "my phony Irish accent" when asked what makes the pub he opened nearly 36 years ago on River Street so authentic.
But make no mistake about it - both Power and the pub are the real Irish deal.
From the pub's name - it officially opened a few ticks after midnight on Nov. 1, 1980, the 70th anniversary of the execution of 18-year-old Irish freedom fighter Kevin Barry - to the walls full of Irish history and the live traditional Irish music that fills the pub' seven nights a week, Kevin Barry's is a more authentic version of the traditional Irish pub than many pubs in Ireland.
In fact, there isn't a single pub in Ireland in this year's "Most Authentic" finalists.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that most Irish pubs in America embrace their Irish heritage, while the pubs in Ireland have become more Americanized to appeal to the younger generation, Power said.
Go to a pub in Ireland and you're much more likely to hear a band covering Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift.
In Savannah, Power wanted to offer a public house that could provide Irish history while keeping the songs of the Irish rebellion alive for younger generations.
To that end, he has brought in some of Ireland's best known troubadours.
Perhaps the most famous was the now-retired Danny Doyle, who for years entertained Savannah audiences with such songs as "Whiskey on a Sunday," which topped the Irish music charts for 10 weeks straight in 1968.
Well-known Irish natives Harry O'Donoghue, Frank Emerson and Cahir O'Doherty have all regularly performed in Kevin Barry's "Listening Room" for more than 30 years, developing a following that spans generations, while relative newcomers Seldom Sober come in to play traditional Irish folk music.
"We call it the Listening Room because these are powerful stories being told through this music," Power said.
In addition to the accolades for its genuine Irish pub atmosphere, Kevin Barry's has also been recognized as one of the top military bars in the world by Military.com.
Since its early days, the pub has been considered a home away from home for many service members -from three-star generals to privates.
The pub's Hall of Heroes, on the second floor, is a testament to how much Power appreciates the men and women who serve or have served. There is also the Liberty Room, which tells the story of the Irish Rebellion on its walls.
Another old-fashioned perk for those who appreciate it: You'll find no television sets - or Wi-Fi for that matter - at Kevin Barry's.
"A traditional pub is not going to have televisions blasting car commercials," Power said. "Nor do we offer Wi-Fi because we believe in the old-fashioned version of FaceTime; you know, the one where you have a face-to-face conversation with the person sitting across from you.
Maybe that's why Kevin Barry's boasts countless friendships - not to mention romances - that have formed within its walls.
"It's part of our philosophy," he said. "In providing our guests with a traditional Irish pub setting, we're striving to preserve a welcoming environment for lively conversations.
"We want you to walk in and feel at home."
WHO WAS KEVIN BARRY?
Kevin Barry was born in Dublin and grew up in County Carlow. In 1916 he joined the Irish Volunteers, a nationalist organization dedicated to freeing Ireland from British rule. He enrolled in Dublin University in 1919 to study medicine. At the same time, the Michael Collins-led War of Independence was developing and Barry, as a section commander, played his part in various raids around the city. On Sept. 20, he took part in one such raid that went terribly wrong. A gun battle ensued in the streets and three British soldiers were killed, the first since the 1916 Easter Rising. Barry was taken to jail, where he was tortured but refused to give up the names of his fellow Volunteers. He was sentenced to death. An attemped rescue by Michael Collins failed and - despite protestations from clerics and politicians alike - the 18-year-old was hanged in Mountjoy Jail on Nov. 1. The calmness and bravery the young Barry showed in the hours leading up to his execution has become the stuff of Irish legend. It was reported that, for the rest of his life, Michael Collins bitterly regretted not being able to save the young soldier.