Matthew J. Kane, 66, the proprietor and impresario of Matt Kane's Bit O'Ireland, one of the city's best known Irish pubs, died of an aneurysm Feb. 3 at Providence Hospital. He lived in Washington.
Mr. Kane opened his bar in 1960 at 1118 13th St. NW. Since then, it has catered to a varied clientele, ranging from Irish tourists and Irish-American politicians to maids, marines, and newspaper people.
Among well-known figures who partook of the hospitality at Matt Kane's were former House speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill and senator Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
In 1985, when Mr. Kane was preparing for his 25th St. Patrick's Day behind the bar, he told a Washington Post reporter that although the occasion always had been the most profitable day of his year, there were certain aspects of it that he didn't really like. One of those was the now traditional green beer. He pointed out that it was simply American draft with green food coloring sold at an inflated price.
"Irish whiskey and Guinness draft -- that's Irish," he said.
He also volunteered that his beef stew was not really Irish. In fact, it was made by a cook from the Shenandoah who told the reporter, "Honey, this ain't Irish. This is our kind of stew."
But much that was truly Irish was honored at Matt Kane's. The flags of Ireland's counties and four provinces hung over the bar, and the musical accents of that far-off and troubled land could often be heard around it.
Mr. Kane was a native of Chicago. During World War II, he served aboard submarines in the Pacific. He moved to Washington after the war and operated guest houses in the city before opening his tavern.
He was Washington commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars from 1953 to 1954 and captain of the Adm. Robert Peary VFW Post No. 427 in Washington in 1957.
Survivors include his wife of more than 40 years, Kay Kane of Washington; three sons, Matthew P., of Rockville, Kevin J., of Brentwood, Md., and Michael S., of Washington; one daughter, Kathleen Skinner of Miami; two sisters, Mary Walsh of San Diego and Nora Hanratty of Lake Forest, Ill.; two brothers, John and Jimmy, both of Chicago, and six grandchildren.