UTICA, NY – Long-awaited Irish Cultural Center Nears the Finish Line


With a late winter push that’s brought the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley one step closer to completion, John Sullivan of John Sullivan and Sons Construction describes their progress as being “a few more nails and a couple of cans of paint” away from the official opening and grand reveal.  While that may be a tad rosy, the end of the rainbow is very much in sight.

On Sunday, Feb 17th, local media personality and past St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Joe Kelly took his weekly “Joe Kelly Show” on the road, broadcasting from inside the nearly-completed Cultural Center.  The show featured individual interviews with three of the more prominent figures responsible for the Center’s progress; GAIF President and counsel to the Cultural Center Peter Karl, then the man responsible for the building’s interior and exterior construction, John Sullivan (also this year’s Parade Grand Marshal), and finally, GAIF co-director, Jeff Ball. 

Standing on the hallowed ground that was once the site of Utica’s first Irish church, the 21,000 square foot Irish Cultural Center comprises a 285-seat event center capable of hosting dinners and receptions, a huge kitchen for handling the daily dinner menu as well as internal and external catered activities, parking for 130 vehicles, an Irish cultural museum, office spaces for local Irish organizations, and the pride of it all – an authentic Irish pub known as “The Five Points Public House.”  And despite Kelly’s three guests seeing the building through vastly different lenses, each echoed the same sentiment: There simply is not an Irish pub this beautiful anywhere from New York to Buffalo.

The pub, which was designed and built in Ireland and shipped to the site in three containers, boasts a Whiskey Room/Library, a huge fireplace, a traditional Irish snug, a performance stage, and an attached outdoor dining/drinking area, with its own fireplace.  The pub seats 102 throughout a large space that has been cleverly partitioned with beautiful wooden half walls and custom-designed “5 Points” frosted glass panels.

And now for the burning question: When will it open? Karl is optimistically looking at a late spring opening, but in the meantime, officials are looking at hosting some kind of event on St. Patrick’s Day.  Whenever the opening is, one thing is certain: It will have been well worth the wait.

"Irish pubs abroad can be tacky and twee. But somehow as an expat, I grew to love them"

I vowed I’d never become one of them. Those Irish who moved abroad and became more Irish than they’d ever been before. The type who spent weekends crammed into an Irish bar, listening to diddly-eye music, sinking pints of the black stuff, and getting misty-eyed while crooning along to Christy Moore. Except, then, I did. I’ve jostled with green jerseys while watching a rugby match (I’m not a fan of the sport, really, but you can’t beat the atmosphere). I’ve watched open-mouthed as, in the early hours of Christmas Eve in The Swan in Stockwell, a band of leprechauns stormed the dance floor and stripped to their shamrocked skivvies (and beyond). I’ve even gone to a Christy Moore gig. And crooned along, misty-eyed.

But stick me on the Costa del Sol, or in darkest Peru, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in an Irish bar. Many are tacky or old-fashioned, and in no way resemble the “Irish bar” I would frequent back in Dublin or Cork. On times I’ve popped in (to use the loo, I swear!), I normally encounter an inflatable leprechaun or three vying with generic Celtic-style bric-a-brac, and the unmistakable smell of stale Guinness and despair.

Many of my Irish friends agree. Yet Irish bars have endured around the world, some in the most far-flung reaches, from Mongolia to Nepal to Uganda. When Irish bar and restaurant Nuala opened in trendy Shoreditch in London late last year, it was an instant sensation. Who is drinking in them? Irish holidaymakers? The (admittedly large) diaspora? Or everyone else who is charmed by that elusive magic of “the craic”? Irish pubs are on the map “reland ay have a population of just under five million, but there are millions upon millions more of Irish descent worldwide, due in part to the Irish diaspora that peaked in the 1800s,” says Nancy Hoalst-Pullen, professor of geography at Kennesaw State University. She and her colleague, Dr Mark Patterson, have written the National Geographic Atlas of Beer – and they say Irish pubs are very much on the map. “t’s really no surprise that with the mass migration of the Irish over the centuries, cultural aspects of home came ith them,” says Professor Hoalst-Pullen. “This included the local pub, which for many was a place not only to have a pint, but to celebrate life, mourn loss, talk politics, and share gossip and news. A place where you can eat and drink and feel at home “And while the legacy of the public house has been at times commodified, there is reason for that - people want to experience a place where they can eat and drink and feel at home… a place with a particular look and feel that is welcoming, friendly, comfortable, and even reminiscent of a better time.” Irish pubs often have a few things in common. A “Guinness is Good for You” poster with the traditional toucan image; an olde-worlde till that no one knows how to open. There’s a good reason they all feel a little familiar: you can order your style of Irish bar in its entirety. Like the Ikea for bars, the Irish Pub Company offers bar owners a menu of styles to choose from, including “Shop Style”, “Victorian Style” or “Modern Irish & Gastro”. The company works in conjunction with The Irish Pub Concept, an advisory resource originally set up by Guinness for people wanting to open their own Irish bar.

An Irish pub in an instant

Donal Ballance, of the Irish Pub Concept, argues that while the Irish pubs they work with are curated, they are not inauthentic. “The Irish Pub abroad almost seems a source of embarrassment to Ireland Inc,” he says. “There have been many articles scorning McPubs and the laughable ‘authenticity’ of any pub outside of Ireland. Yet on Tourism Ireland’s site, the two biggest tourism magnets are…wait for it…. yes, pubs and the Guinness Storehouse. A significant driver behind that tourism are the great pubs developed over the past 20 years in 153 countries by hard-working but unpaid and unappreciated ambassadors.”

Ballance says the company helps Irish and non-Irish people around the world try to capture the essence of an Irish pub. “They visit Ireland, they have the pub designed and built-out professionally, they talk endlessly to people who have done it before and they gain insights into what makes a pub tick. They don’t always get it right… and we can tell from the loafing leprechauns and the over-abundance of shamrock bunting who they are.”

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/food-and-drink/irish-pubs-abroad-expat/

Syracuse's Kitty Hoynes: Armory Square pub offers 100,000 welcomes

The spirit of Irish hospitality was very much on display on a recent Friday evening visit to Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant in Armory Square. While parking our car on West Fayette Street, we were involved in a minor traffic incident. Once we settled matters out front, we walked in and were seated almost immediately. We had barely sat down when our waiter was table-side to check on us and take our drink order, remarking that we could probably use something to take the edge off.

Ancient Irish law once required all households to offer some level of hospitality to visitors, even if they were strangers. The homeowner was obligated to offer food, drink, a place to sleep and entertainment to visitors. In return, the guests minded their manners and delivered stories and songs.

Thus "cead mile failte," translated literally as "a hundred thousand welcomes," became a common Irish phrase, and hospitality a way of Irish life.

At Kitty Hoynes, the tradition lives on. The superior level of service was something we noticed throughout the dining room. Waitstaff went out of their way to explain dishes and answer questions about dietary allergies. Glasses rarely went dry and dishes were cleared without question or wait. The servers had a keen sense of when and if to make conversation, detecting whether diners were chatty or reserved.

Frankly, it was one of the finest service operations we have witnessed in the local dining scene. 

And the food was of equal quality.

Kitty Hoynes has a dozen craft beers on tap, in addition to the more well-known national brands. We started with a pint of Juice Bomb ($8), a India Pale Ale from Sloop Brewing Company in Columbia County. Juice Bomb is a Northeast IPA, a hazy, juicy variant of the hoppy IPA. The strawberry mule ($12), a seasonal drink on the menu, was one of many made with Irish whiskey. In this variation on the vodka and ginger beer cocktail, Irish whiskey and ginger beer join strawberries and muddled citrus fruit. The bar menu features 45 different Irish whiskies, including multiple single malt and reserves.

A basket of Irish soda bread was delivered shortly after the drinks arrived. The house-baked bread was dense and crumbled easily. A plethora of raisins imparted sweetness, which complimented the side of creamy butter well.

Kitty Hoynes offers an Irish twist on the traditional charcuterie plate ($15) with Irish sausage, glazed pork belly, Irish cheddar cheese, Cashel blue cheese and smoked salmon with sides of tomato relish and whole grain mustards. The dry Irish cheddar was rich and full-bodied, balancing the funky, creamy Cashel blue.

The banger had a rich pork flavor, as did the pork belly. The latter was the star of the platter. Two cubes of pork belly were Guinness and maple glazed and grilled until just crispy, rendering a salty and sweet product. 

For our entrees, we opted for more traditional Irish fare.

Kitty Hoynes makes its own Irish bangers, a traditional sausage made with pork, eggs and breadcrumbs. For the bangers and mash ($13), three of the house bangers are served over Irish champ with Guinness-onion gravy. The sausage was robustly flavored with a slight kick of hot pepper at the end. It was balanced nicely against the champ, a type of mashed potato preparation made with scallions, which was earthy and full of savory notes. The gravy imparted a salty flavor akin to a thicker French onion soup, balancing the entree's savory features.

The kitchen smokes its own corned beef brisket for its sandwiches, including a Reuben ($11) and a massive corned beef sandwich ($12). We went with the corned beef -- a 3- to 4-inch stack of lean corned beef topped with cheddar and arugula on bread with Guinness mustard. We ordered the spicy coleslaw on the side and let the smoke and spices do the heavy lifting. It's not exaggerating to call it the best corned beef we have had outside of New York City.

Dessert was on our mind, namely the strawberry shortcake special featuring strawberries marinated in liquor. Before we could order, our waiter delivered a slice of creamy cheesecake with two shots of Irish cream liqueur courtesy of the hostesses that witnessed our traffic issue earlier in the evening.

The cheesecake was a generous gesture and the final punctuation mark on an evening that started with a hundred thousand welcomes after an unlucky incident when we arrived.

Kitty Hoynes' reputation for high-quality service and food is not just something that was earned. At Kitty Hoynes, it remains the law.

The Details

The Restaurant: Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub & Restaurant, 301 W. Fayette St., Syracuse, NY 13202; 315-424-1974.
Reservations? Yes
Access to Disabled? Yes
Credit Cards? Yes.
Vegetarian Options and Allergy Information? Vegetarian menu options are available. The menu offers a disclaimer about food allergens. A gluten-free menu is also available by request.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: Two people could have brunch for $30 to $50. For our visit, we sampled as much of the menu as was reasonable. Dinner for two with beverages, tax and 20 percent tip was $95.60.

UnitedVoice: What To See, Do -- And Drink -- In Dublin: Tips From The Owners Of The "World's Best Bar"

By Heather Whitley

This article is part of our “Street To Street” series, where we ask prominent New Yorkers to share their recommendations for what to see and do in major cities around the world.

When Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry set foot in New York City six years ago, they had a clear mission.

“The idea was to do something that no one had ever done before,” Muldoon said. “We came over here with the intention of making an Irish whiskey pub that was a world-class cocktail venue.”

But beyond offering the finest cocktails, the two Irishmen also wanted their bar to reflect the culture of their homeland.

“The thing about Irish people is that they make people feel welcome,” Muldoon said. “They’re not famous for cocktails, they’re not famous for their food; it’s basically the welcome, the charm. And I don’t think you see that anywhere else.”

Back home in Belfast, Muldoon and McGarry had worked in a five-star hotel bar called The Merchant. But Muldoon said the prim and proper and often downright stuffy atmosphere of the famous cocktail bar was not appealing.

“Some cocktail bars, like, you have to know the owner or you have to know the person in charge in order to get in,” Muldoon said. “We wanted to have an open-door policy where everybody would feel welcome.”

After two and a half years of hard work and determination, Muldoon and McGarry turned their dream into a reality and opened the doors to The Dead Rabbit, named after an 1850s Irish gang from New York. Since then, the three-level bar in New York’s Financial District has been showered with awards and recognition, including being named The World’s Best Bar in 2016.

Muldoon and McGarry may have made their name in New York, but Ireland is never far from their thoughts. Here, we asked them to share their top travel tips on what to see — and where to get the best pint of Guinness — on a visit to Dublin.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.

Q. What are the best places for tourists to visit on a trip to Dublin?

One of Ireland’s most infamous prisons, the historic Kilmainham Gaol opened in 1796. Shutterstock
One of Ireland’s most infamous prisons, the historic Kilmainham Gaol, opened in 1796.

Muldoon: The Kilmainham Gaol Museum. It’s close to the Guinness brewery. It used to be a jail, and there’s a museum attached to it now. When the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish rebellion and all of that took place, a lot of people, like the Irish Volunteers back then who were caught, were imprisoned in the Kilmainham jail. And you can go see where it all happened. It’s a beautiful museum; it’s a fantastic museum.

I would go to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells. Because that book is a very, very old book, and it’s very interesting to go in and get a look at it. There’s a whole bunch of famous Irish writers who went to Trinity College.

McGarry: The Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery are also great places to learn about the big products that have come from Ireland.

Q. What are some of your favorite things to do in Dublin?

Muldoon: I have a love for proper Irish pubs. The thing I find fascinating when you go to some of these old pubs is that you may see a picture of somebody on the wall, and it’s a famous person. Like, we were in a bar in a place called Athy, which is near Dublin, and we saw pictures of this famous Antarctic explorer called Ernest Shackleton. And I’m asking, “Why is Ernest Shackleton — who I always assumed to be an Englishman, not an Irishman — why is he on your wall?” But apparently Ernest Shackleton was born in that area. If you ever go into a bar in Ireland and you see something on the walls, do ask what it is because you’ll find, nine times out of 10, it’s a very interesting piece of information.

Croke Park is Ireland’s largest sports arena and the perfect place to catch a Gaelic football or hurling match. Shane Lynam
Croke Park is Ireland’s largest sports arena and the perfect place to catch a Gaelic football or hurling match.

McGarry: If you are an American going to Ireland, I would definitely try to catch a Gaelic football match or a hurling match just to see the native sports in Ireland. I know Brad Pitt went to a Hurling game, and he called it the most barbaric sport he’d ever watched in his life. So it’s entertaining at the same time, you know? The big stadium in Dublin is Croke Park; it holds about 80,000 people. If you want to go and see a huge stadium and check out a game going on, definitely that would be in Croke Park.

Q. What bars do you enjoy visiting in Dublin?

McGarry: One of the first places we stop off when we go back to Dublin is a bar called The Gravediggers. It’s a very old Dublin pub, and it’s the best pint of Guinness I’ve ever had and I’ve obviously traveled extensively in Ireland. It’s just a perfect pint.

Muldoon: There’s a bar in Dublin called Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street. I was watching a documentary one time, and the guy who owns it said he serves the best pint of Guinness in Dublin, and I thought that was a very bold statement to make. So I actually went to his bar, and he served me the pint, and it was the best pint of Guinness in Dublin!

Mulligans on Poolbeg Street has a rich, 200-year history of serving Dubliners and tourists alike. Shane Lynam
Mulligans on Poolbeg Street has a rich, 200-year history of serving Dubliners and tourists alike.

McGarry: The other place that I would recommend — this is kind of more in the speakeasy setting, or a Dublin version of a speakeasy — is a bar called the Vintage Cocktail Club, and it’s just shortened to VCC. If you’re with your partner, it’s a great place to go for a date or whatever. It’s quite intimate and dimly lit, and they do a lot of good drinks there.


How Irish Pubs Shaped American Communities - New York Times

How Irish Pubs Shaped American Communities - New York Times

"THERE ARE NO STRANGERS HERE, only friends you haven’t met yet” — this famous quote, widely attributed to Irish poet William Butler Yeats, must have referred to an Irish pub. Over hundreds of years, the Irish pub has evolved into a global institution that’s synonymous with hospitality, camaraderie and, most of all, community.


“The essence of a good Irish pub is conviviality and good conversation,” says Kevin Martin, author of “Have Ye No Homes to Go To? The History of the Irish Pub.” No matter what city you find yourself in, an Irish pub feels at once familiar and at the same time full of the promise of new friends and experiences.

“They’re everywhere. And that’s because the Irish, no matter where they are, retain a certain culture and spirit,” says Robert Meyers, who researched pubs across the U.S. while writing his book “Irish Pubs In America: History, Lore and Recipes” with Ron Wallace. “They have this gift. There’s the old saying that on St. Patrick’s Day, ‘Everybody’s Irish.’”

Irish pub

Irish pubs come in all shapes, sizes and styles, from those based on traditional Irish living rooms to Victorian salons. And each carries with its own distinctively Irish flavor.

Irish pubs gained prominence in America in the 19th century — between 1841 and 1850, an estimated 46 percent of all immigrants to the U.S. came from Ireland. Pubs were often the first stop for new arrivals fleeing the potato famine, and they served as grocery stores, banks, places for entertainment, lodging and more. Irish pubs became centers of community, a tradition that lives on today. Many of these pubs and bars have become historic landmarks, neighborhood hangouts and international destinations that bring people from all over the world together, if only for a few pints of Guinness.

Pubs Come to America

Today’s bars may owe their existence to the Ancient Romans, who set up taverns along roads frequented by travelers of all types. Traces of the earliest Irish taverns date to the 7th century, and there’s evidence of Ireland’s longest-running pub doing business as early as A.D. 900.

English and Dutch settlers founded the first taverns in America. In fact, it was English custom for a tavern to be established before churches or even forts. For the large numbers of thirsty Irish immigrants who arrived on the Eastern Seaboard in the 1800s, taverns — also called ordinaries — were often the first stop.

Pubs “just go hand-in-hand with immigration because they’re early points of contact to establish friendships and networks,” says Christine Sismondo, author of “America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops.”

Pubs offered Irish immigrants — often derided and discriminated against at the time — a means to establish community and, for those founding their own pubs, the chance to prosper.

The Toucan was Guinness’ most famed mascot, created in the ’30s as a playful advertising character and phased out in the ’80s. Antique Toucan posters still decorate the walls of Irish pubs around the world, and the famous bird remains Guinness’ most iconic symbol.

“Essentially it was like an embassy,” Martin says. “It was a home away from home. If you had trouble, where could you turn? You could turn to the people that you knew in the Irish community through the pubs. It was where they developed a sense of belonging.”

By the second half of the 19th century, Irish immigrants, along with Germans, had established themselves as the predominant culture behind drinking establishments. In New York, pubs established in the mid-1800s are still in operation and have become landmarks in their own right. Each proudly carries its own tradition and folklore. For example, there’s the pub rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of a murdered Confederate soldier, an early Hollywood actor and a young girl who fell victim to tuberculosis. The tradition of an eclectic clientele in these historical pubs remains even today, from theatre-goers from Canada to local businessmen. Original features also remain — an impressive solid-oak bar, collections of ancient bottles or a creaky wooden-plank floor covered in sawdust to mop up spilled beer.

You’ll even find customers reciting family tales that go back generations (possibly getting taller with each telling), demonstrating the power of the pub to foster a sense of community even through its own history.

Irish pub

In an Irish pub, new acquaintances are made, old friendships are rekindled and family lore is passed on to new generations.

The Local

As the pubs were built on community, social movements began to spring up out of bars as well. They became places where everyone could have a voice.

“Everybody’s opinion is supposed to be sort of equal, so there’s this equalizing force as well that brings people from different parts together and from different viewpoints,” Sismondo says. “That helps reduce polarization, and helps people to understand each other in a different way.”

You can find neighborhood Irish pubs — or “locals,” as they are often referred to in Ireland — in cities across the world. In New York City, neighborhood pubs in each of the five boroughs are noted for their connection to the local community in myriad ways, be it as the meeting place for the local historical society, the venue for trivia night or even as the caterer of complimentary corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

The experts from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin say the perfect pour requires patience and a certain sense of artistry. The six steps to a perfect pint take just under two minutes, precisely 119.5 seconds.

Clientele at these local watering holes can go back generations, but in up-and-coming neighborhoods, pubs are also being frequented by a hip, younger crowd. And contrary to what you might expect, the decades-long regulars don’t seem to mind.

“I think everybody’s glad to see some new faces. It keeps the bar fresh, and it’s good for the neighborhood,” says Allan Hanson, 46, who says he chooses one of two pubs in his neighborhood depending on his mood: One is closer to home and one is for special occasions.

“I know guys who’ve been coming here for more than 40 years,” Hanson says. “It’s just the local neighborhood Irish bar.”

A New Generation

Recently, a new kind of Irish pub has emerged. With a cosmopolitan and international approach, these pubs are taking traditional Irish pub essentials and adding a twist.

In many cases, they have eschewed the typical shamrock in the window in favor of sleeker interiors to appeal to younger, more urban customers. Examples include a Victorian tearoom, a traditional Irish living room complete with iron stove and a saloon reminiscent of the film “Gangs of New York,” and their decor sets them apart from other nearby bars.

Irish pubs are as known for their often whimsical and quirky names as they are for pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. References to Irish language, culture and history are common. Meaning a public fight or quarrel, Donnybrook comes from a legendarily raucous fair that took place outside of Dublin. Other fun pub names include The Stagger Inn, The Randy Leprechaun and The Dying Cow.

“Times change,” Meyers says. “I think the younger generation is coming home from work. If they’re in Manhattan, they’ve got suits on. They’re young and often on dates. They’re more interested in what’s cool.”

This sense of cool may translate to a more upmarket feel, but even the most contemporary pubs haven’t abandoned Ireland’s famous tradition of hospitality. While each may be a 21st-century take on a thousands-year-old concept, the Irish roots are unmistakable. The history and community that pubs promise continue to draw customers even if the building’s appearance has changed.

“I love how there’s such a mix of people,” says Kelsey Fraser, 26, on a visit to New York City for the weekend. “Everyone’s just here for the same reason: for some good conversation and a good time.”

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Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World - eater.com

by Siobhán Brett  Mar 7, 2017, 3:01pm EST

The walls of the bar are covered in old art, photographs of Ireland, and yellowing posters in frames. A pair of hurleys, the flat ash stick of the Gaelic game, are tacked above the door frame. The bar’s otherwise full of dust-coated bottles of bygone whiskeys and stouts, musical instruments, and familiar ridged glass partitions that gracefully generate several spaces where there might have been just one.

Christy Moore, beloved grandfather of contemporary Irish folk music, hums over the speakers. The manager — who, pleasingly, shares a first name with Moore — flits warmly and easily from bar to table, genially, and in a Donegal accent, asking about the general well-being of diners and drinkers. Notably, there are few shamrocks, in any form or medium — they, along with leprechauns, are generally derided as emblematic of a very loose grip on Ireland and “Irishness.”


The Auld Dubliner — small, dark, and convincing, with a flat, matte, unassuming facade (red and yellow lettering over black paint, on wood) — rests between a heavily illuminated branch of T-Mobile and a “dueling piano café” on a street approximately 5,000 miles from the place invoked in its name. Almost every part of the bar the eye falls on — from the stocky tables and the upholstered chairs to the floor tiling and the mock oil lamps dangling from the ceiling — were railed into the unit in Long Beach, California, from a 40-foot container that spent between three and five weeks at sea.

The bar’s trappings belie its location — a retail complex — and the year of its opening: 2003. Like thousands elsewhere, it was designed and prefabricated in Ireland: an export not cultural or theoretical, but actual. The assiduous export and installation of these pre-made Irish bars has been going on for more than 30 years, resulting in a global network of establishments that are interrelated but unrelated. A loose confederation. A franchise without a name.

In the late 1970s, Dublin architecture student Mel McNally and some classmates were tasked with analyzing a piece of local architecture. They decided to make their subject the city’s pubs. A dim view was taken of their proposal, but in the end, the project was such a success that it became a months-long public exhibition. Much of the work went missing in the final days, as McNally tells it, so emotive and sought-after were the drawings and renderings.

McNally went on to research the whole of Ireland to establish a definitive playbook of pub varieties, which led to the foundation of a design and manufacturing specialist, the Irish Pub Company [IPC], in 1990. The ambition was to design and build complete interiors of pubs, first domestically, but then for foreign markets, assembling huge shipments of flooring, decorative glass, mirrors, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, furniture, signage, and bric-a-brac, as well as the obvious centerpiece: the bar itself.

The group now sells bars in six “styles” that can be selected from a company catalog: Shop, Gastro, Victorian, Brewery, Country, and Celtic. At a glance, the variations may seem slight. Upon closer inspection, though, the Victorian option makes distinctively liberal use of brass accents and plummy tones. “Country” is a simpler affair: woody, closer to a kitchen, and liable to feature wall-mounted crockery and/or an open fire. “Modern” would appear to be the hipster iteration, the furniture sleek and the setting more contemporary, one conducive to nu-Irish pursuits like craft beer and artisanal gin tasting.

The companies promoted the flatpack Irish bar, made to order, as a marketable commodity.

The Celtic style, on the other hand, plays up ancient folklore and mythology. “Brewery” uses related paraphernalia, cobblestone, and slate to get at the historical version of its name. “Shop” riffs on the rural pubs that doubled as general stores — or the general stores that doubled as pubs — a special configuration still found in Ireland.

Asked about essential components of an Irish bar, McNally offers, “I think everybody recognizes that good stained glass makes a difference,” delivering the line with total solemnity. Also important: spaces. “When I talk about spaces in pubs, very few clients know what I’m talking about,” he says, naming Dublin’s the Long Hall — a revered, beguiling Dublin pub, popular and relied upon for generations — as emblematic. Part of a protected structure, the pub has a jaunty red exterior and is a deep red within, like a heart, warm and compact, with chambers that inform the natural flow of patrons. “You know when you walk in how you wind up gathering up with people.”

The brewery behind Guinness, faced with flagging sales internationally, partnered with IPC shortly after its 1990 launch. McNally’s model was a highly effective conduit for sales of stout, and financial backing offered by Guinness enabled McNally’s expansion into continental Europe by subsidizing new operators and investing heavily in marketing.

The companies worked together to promote the flatpack Irish bar, made to order, as a marketable commodity. Introductory workshops were hosted. Country managers were appointed to handle particularly interested markets. Later on, assistance reportedly took the shape of a five-day class on all operational aspects and extended to the recruitment of Irish people to staff new openings.

The first two bars to be exported were bound for Berlin, and an order for the makings of a bar in Estonia followed. McNally loses track after that. “In the first five to seven years, I was on a plane every other day of the week,” he says. McNally’s first U.S. opening, in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996, comprised five styles in one.

Guinness, which eventually had partnered with several companies like IPC, gave up on the bar-marketing program after becoming part of Diageo in the late 1990s. The arrangement had latterly begun to irk incumbent Irish bar owners in locations moved on by the companies, who complained that the coddling of new arrivals by the beverage giant was anticompetitive. A group of Philadelphia pubs boycotted Guinness for this reason in 2001.

McNally is a formalist, and everything he manufactures and sells is Irish-made.

IPC carried on. More than 500 bars and 27 years later, it continues to ship the makings of the Irish bar as far afield as Russia and Kazakhstan. According to McNally, Switzerland has been unexpectedly demanding of late. Before Christmas he installed a bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

McNally, the effective grandfather of the movement, is a formalist, and everything he manufactures and sells is Irish-made. Wood and other materials are sourced from an array of indigenous suppliers and fashioned into custom-built bars and fixtures at IPC workshops. This happens to be true of most peers in the space. “I don’t consider them a competitor if they don’t do that,” he says flatly.

On top of his insistence upon use of materials derived exclusively from Ireland, McNally tends to resist anything locally sourced. In China, some of his clients were adamant about the use of their own suppliers and builders. McNally says it led his colleagues to pull their hair out, but they eventually relented. The results can be mixed. On one occasion, McNally provided a drawing for a decorative table fashioned out of a barrel. The client in question, having elected to go some of the way alone, whittled a tree into a solid barrel. The story makes him laugh.

Inside the Auld Dubliner, one might be in a pub in Ireland but for a handful of minor giveaways. A digital clock above the bar counts the seconds to St Patrick’s Day. A sign at the entrance urges people to seat themselves, something that simply does not need saying in Ireland. The bar menu contains a brief glossary of terms. “Chips” are fries, “crisps” are chips, a “rasher” is a piece of bacon, and so on.

The bar is a product of ÓL Irish Pubs (pronounced “ole”, the Irish verb to drink), another Dublin-based Irish bar designer and manufacturer. ÓL has installed bars in places like Oman, New Zealand, and India, as well as on cruise liners and in private homes. Within a period of 16 weeks after the designs are approved, John Heverin and his team build, ship, and install every component of the bar, handing the keys to the owner once complete.

Some first-timers are “a bit romantic about it,” says Heverin, an ÓL co-founder. The pub that goes into a ski resort is different than what goes into New York City is different than what goes into a university town, and he says expectations have to be delicately managed. “Can a client justify the cost of the fit-out where two pints of Budweiser is the go-to order?” he asks.

According to Heverin, food is now near-singlehandedly “winching” the Irish bar from the past. Every shopfront his company builds now is suffixed with “and restaurant,” whereas previously, what Heverin calls “basket food” was long sufficient, unquestioned fare: An Irish name would often be appended to an otherwise trite bar food item (normally, it may be worth noting, one not readily available in Ireland until the mid-aughts, if at all, like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, or tater tots).

Although beer batter continues to encase many popular bar snacks, the menus of new pubs exhibit increasingly aspirational impulses. Heverin points to the Stag’s Head in Dublin as a leading indicator. On a given day, it can offer white bean hummus, chili with gorgonzola, or vegan tartare. McNally, for his part, also alludes to the appeal and potential of “small plates” or, as he calls them, “Irish tapas.” Here and there, you can find evidence of this philosophy, which, leaning on creative treatment of Kerrygold cheddar, smoked salmon, and black pudding, borrows nothing from Spain but the moniker.

Courtesy of Irish Pub Company

Bar design and manufacturing companies don’t typically weigh in on culinary matters, but ÓL does, and IPC has in the past worked with a Toronto-based consultancy, Ballance Hospitality, which offers menu development for Irish bars as one of its services. Donal Ballance, its founder, urges clients to “revert to the mothership” by communicating with the Irish food board and staying abreast of ingredient availability. A ban on Irish beef in the U.S., for example, was lifted in 2015.

Ballance is involved in the opening of between six and 10 Irish bars a year, mostly in the U.S. His informational website has taken in official queries from 164 countries in two years, and the form is detailed. According to Ballance, the Dead Rabbit and Ulysses, both in Manhattan, exemplify “Irish pub 2.0.” Independently established, the bars contrive to an elevated version of the form, the former being “an Irish bar that redefined hospitality,” in its own words. Often, 2.0 can mean oysters and herb sprigs adorning cocktails in crystal tumblers.

All bars can have a go of this, though — the Auld Dubliner in Long Beach offers a drink called the Dublin Donkey: a blend of whiskey, honey liqueur, and ginger beer in a copper mug — a mug that requires a deposit of a driver’s license or $20. Upward reinvention and adaptation of this sort is rife, if occasionally clumsy, but it appears to be working out.

“People walk through that front door with a certain expectation connecting to Ireland and to the Irish.”

But, according to Ballance, there’s a growing awareness that an Irish bar built “in three days with materials from Home Depot,” once it has the right operator and the right spirit (and even if plastered in top-o’-the-mornin’ imagery), can go toe-to-toe with any of those pubs that are painstakingly and lovingly assembled, at a multiple of the cost, with the help of companies like his, McNally’s, or Heverin’s.

What, then, motivates people to continue investing in the outsourced construction of the Irish bar? A desire for an authenticity, demonstrably, but not the kind that is expressly promoted. The fact that a bar was built by a team of carpenters in the Irish midlands is a detail that tends to go unwritten: Customers generally aren’t made aware of the provenance of different elements of the bar. It would seem that the achieving an overall sense of Ireland generated by the constituent parts is the priority, and is in itself enough.

Ballance is outspoken in his promotion and defense of the business, bringing to my attention an eight-year-old Irish Times article that sounded the death knell for what it termed the “McPub.” “It’s great that lots of people in the world still believe that a couple of pints, a chat, and a friendly welcome is a very desirable Irish characteristic and not some weird anachronism,” he says, expanding on a closely held belief in the Irish bar’s objective virtues as a place. In his estimation, it’s the key to its resilience.

“Do I see [the Irish bar] falling over a cliff? No, I really don’t,” Heverin says. “People walk through that front door with a certain expectation connecting to Ireland and to the Irish. Unless we somehow change status in the world,” he says, audibly smiling, “I think we’ll be fine.”

In Ireland, the Irish bar is known only as the pub. Those in the business of fashioning and transposing it onto foreign parts are concerned with its accurate replication, facilitating a singular ambiance and atmosphere, both special and real, whatever the designation. Throughout my conversation with McNally, I toggled between two terms in my mind, but, knowing my audience, stuck to one. Shortly after he raised the Long Hall as an archetype to look up to, I slipped up.

“Just now you said ‘bar’,” McNally said. “It’s a pub.”

New pub opening in time for RBC Heritage

A new pub is scheduled to open in the coming weeks at the Shipyard Golf Club on Hilton Head Island.

The opening of the Brickyard Pub is set to correspond with the April 11 start of the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament, according to a release from the Heritage Golf Group.

The new pub will fuse “the vibe of old-fashioned Irish pubs” with the culture and history of Shipyard Plantation, the release said.

Executive Chef Eric Seaglund will offer “pub fare with a lowcountry twist.”

The menu will include “the Yard of Wings,” a 36-chicken-wing patter, and an 84-ounce “Tower of Beer,” the release said.

Irish Pub to Open in Former Downtown Wild Hare Location

When the Wild Hare Sports Bar closed in 2015, the biggest question other than “Why?” was “What’s next?” The answer is now ready to be unveiled: Moriarty’s Irish Pub is taking over the space, with its opening date set as March 9, and it’s going to be completely transformed. 

Owner James Pickle, formerly of Uncle Louie’s and other Columbia establishments, has been dreaming of this for a while. 

“Myself and a friend from back home saved up money with the intention of opening up something small,” he says. 

But then an opportunity to go bigger came up when a property management company let them know that the former tenant was on its way out. 

“We want to give the space its own identity, so we decided to ... celebrate the space for what it is with lots of timber, brick and concrete," Pickle says, adding that the interior had stayed the same for over 20 years previously. 

As for the inspiration for the pub, Pickle has worked at a lot of pubs and is comfortable with the culture and atmosphere, finding it perfect for serving great food without a stuffy environment. 

“You can sit with strangers, you can spill a little beer, and it’s nice,” he says. 

But spilling beer probably isn’t the first thing you’d want to do, as the 32 taps will have great quality craft beers available. There will also be seasonal craft cocktails, lots of Irish whiskey and single malt scotches, and what Pickle calls an ambitious wine list for a pub.

On the edible side of the menu, he reveals little other than to say that nothing will be frozen, and that the sauces and dressings will be all made in house. Moriarty’s will be located at 902-B Gervais Street. 

Owner of Popular Irish bar Opens New Pub

The owner of Tim Finnegan’s Irish Restaurant and Pub will hold a grand opening weekend for his new pub, The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub, starting Friday at its location on First and Washington streets.

Tom Montgomery said the pub opened its doors for a soft opening this January and has received great feedback, but he still has plans to add to the Kettle Black experience.

“We’re going to have a patio, flowers and nice bright lights shining on the door,” Montgomery said. “So we’re still a work in progress, but once we get that going I think we’re really going to start bringing them in.”

The grand opening weekend will have live music, drink and food specials. The pub is bringing craft brews and homemade food to the table, seating approximately 100 people with booths, high-tops and a full bar.

Montgomery wanted to bring the Kettle Black downtown to target the growing residential neighborhoods being built.

Irish Pubs Global Meeting January 2016

IPG Dublin.jpg

Pictured: Enda O’Coineen, President, Irish Pubs Global, Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan and Donal Ballance, Ballance Hospitality.

Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Jimmy Deenihan, hosted the Irish Pubs Global patrons and member trustees at a ‘Round Table’ review at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Iveagh House, Dublin on Wednesday 20th January. 

2015 Irish Pubs Global Federation activities were reviewed and plans were discussed for 2016 – the highlight of which will be the Global Gathering this September in Dublin of Irish pub owners and managers from around the world.

John McDonald of Mediateam, chaired the meeting which saw many key areas discussed such as staff exchanges between pubs, quality awards, twinning, setting standards, sourcing Irish products and ways to support and help Irish pubs developing their business in different parts of the wold.

Minister Deenihan complimented the fact that Tourism Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia, three leading government agencies, are patrons of the Federation and that several private sector companies such as Alltech, Irish Distillers, Ornua and Kilcullen Kapital Partners are patrons of what is developing into a strong Irish Global Hospitality Network.

While adding strong support for the development of the Federation and standards,  he said that as community centres, places for good food, hospitality and of course the best of Irish beverages, the pub is central and must reinvent as part of a new Ireland embracing and taking a more mature and responsible approach to drink.

NYC Irish Pub is Best Bar in the World

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog is an Irish-owned pub in New York and it’s just been voted one of the best bars in the world. The list, picked by industry news magazine Drinks International, gave the top spot to London’s Langham hotel bar, Artesian. Following in close second, is the Dead Rabbit, an Irish pub in New York.

The magazine says “they’ve managed to make the cocktail bar approachable to the masses and to make the Irish pub a great experience by offering exceptional products and exemplary service. Belfast-native owner Jack McGarry said he and partner Sean Muldoon strive to take “the best of every single pub in Ireland” and present it to New Yorkers.

Langton's Irish Pub opens in Carmel


It’s a traditional Irish pub that’s been open just a few months but has plenty to offer! Langton’s Irish Pub is now open in Carmel City Center and is a multi-level pub that features varied seating and a bar on both levels. Chef Paul and Chris Parker stopped by Indy Style to make a few of their signature dishes!

First though, here are a few things you can expect in the new pub:

The Pub’s lower level offers more relaxed seating and the upper level offers more of the authentic Irish pub experience, but there are nooks and crannies to explore on both levels with a total of 6 snugs that offer an intimate dining experience.  Langton’s Irish Pub, a casual dining experience, features Irish and American cuisine as well as Euro Beer on draft. Menu items range from authentic Cottage Pie, Fish & Chips, and Guinness Beef Stew among others. In addition to fine Irish food, Langton’s features live Irish entertainment, 26 draft beers and has 31 TVs throughout the Pub so guests are sure to catch the latest soccer and rugby matches. A unique feature of the pub that guests will enjoy along with its Irish dining and drink selection will be its one-of-a-kind bar and other millwork that was constructed in Athy, Ireland just for Langton’s Irish Pub.

It occupies a 3,901 square foot space on Carmel City Center’s plaza level directly south of Matt the Miller’s Tavern on Range Line Road.