They’ve got one in Honolulu, they’ve got one in Moscow too!Irish Pub Song – The High Kings
They got four of them in Sydney and a couple in Kathmandu.
So whether you sing or pull a pint you’ll always have a job,
‘Cause where ever you go around the world you’ll find an Irish pub.
I’ve played lots of Celtic music sessions lately, but only one of those has been in an “Irish” pub. This struck me as a bit…weird. So I started wondering. Our area seems to have lots of Irish Pubs. What’s happening with those pubs? Are they truly “Irish Pubs?” For that matter, what really makes a pub Irish? To answer these questions I decided to do a regional pub crawl and see what each of these has to offer.
I’ve only been to Ireland once, but we spent a LOT of time in different pubs. I developed my own ideal of what an Irish pub should be. It’s probably an Americanized tourist version based on Hollywood sets with no basis in reality, but here’s what I’d love to see…
Quaint architecture – plaster is good, thatch is even better, old is better still.
Cozy interior – usually dark, with lots of wood
Irish decor – something besides cartoonish leprechauns and shamrocks. It could be harps, uncial lettering, Celtic knotwork, etc.
Guinness on tap – even better if it also has Smithwick’s and Harp, plus a nice selection of Irish Whisky.
Pub food – Irish stew (sometimes with Guinness broth), seafood stews, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips
And finally…Traditional live music –
And you know your in an Irish pub the minute you’re in the doorIrish Pub Song – The High Kings
For a couple of boys with bodhrans will be murdering Christy Moore…
These ideals did cause a a bit of disillusionment when I got back from Ireland. A pub called the Playwright opened in Greenville, but just didn’t live up to my ideals, nor to anyone else’s, for that matter. It subsequently closed, but more on that in the next post.
So, with these ideals in mind I made a list of pubs in the area. I started with the ones about which I already knew and had visited, then just Googled the others. I’m sure I missed a few, but I tried to include every establishment that claimed to be Irish in some way. In no particular order, here’s my list…
- McGee’s Irish Pub – Anderson, SC
- Mullens Irish Pub – Seneca, SC
- Fitzpatrick’s – Greenville, SC
- The Irish Pub – Greenville, SC
- Connolly’s Irish Pub – Greenville, SC
- Kilpatrick’s Public House – Greenville, SC
- Delaney’s Irish Pub – Spartanburg, SC
- McGourty’s Pub – Tryon, NC
- Hannah Flanagan’s – Hendersonville, NC
- Dugan’s Pub – Brevard, NC
- Claddagh – Asheville, NC
- Jack of the Wood – Asheville, NC
- O’Hara’s Public House – Lexington, SC
- Delaney’s – Columbia
- Publick House – Columbia, SC
I know there’s one in Athens and pubs in Charlotte and Atlanta, but I figured this would do for now. My loose criteria was that it should be a place I could get to easily for an evening or afternoon music session. That would exclude Tommy Condon’s in Charleston and a whole raft of places in Savannah. I also left off establishments that claimed to be British pubs, such as the Hare and Hound in Landrum.
Here’s a map of the locations on my list…
I was prepared to visit each of these, go down my ideals checklist, then render my verdict – Irish or Pretender, based on a quick whiff and sip of Guinness. I soon found that was terribly, terribly naive, and I should toss my list of ideals out the window. However, that’s for the next chapter…