I was on a mission to find a true, authentic Irish pub in our area. I had made a list of possible targets and had already visited several. I’m actually writing about them out of order of visit so that I can group them more conveniently. In this post I take a look at the pubs here in Greenville.
As previously mentioned, when I visited several locations in one day my strategy was to sit at the bar. If it were a meal time I’d order something to eat and something non-alcoholic to drink. If it weren’t a meal time, or if I’d already eaten, I’d just order a drink, most likely a Guinness.
McGee’s Scot-Irish Pub
On this particular morning I headed down to Anderson to visit McGee’s Scot-Irish Pub for lunch. However, I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t check when the pub opened. Turns out McGee’s doesn’t open until 4:00, so when I got there it was closed. I really wasn’t in the mood to hang around for several hours so I got lunch elsewhere and took a leisurely route home.
It’s a shame, because their website makes it look like McGee’s comes closest to my ideal. The menu features lots of Irish fare and their “The Fun” section says that they have “monthly music events featuring the best in original artists – celtic [sic], folk, & world music.” Sounds like it has potential. I signed up for their newsletter so that I’d get notification of upcoming bands.
As it turns out, several of these pubs don’t open until 4:00 pm. Mullens Irish Pub in Seneca is like this. The next pub is also one of those that opens at 4:00.
The Irish Pub
I’ve driven by this place thousands of times but was never compelled to stop in. The neon green exterior and decor just struck me as fake, fake, fake. Boy was I wrong. Although The Irish Pub didn’t earn many ticks on my checklist, it felt like one of the most authentic pubs I visited. Certainly it was one of the most unusual.
I showed up at about 4:30 to find two other patrons at the bar. When I walked in the bartender told me in a thick Irish brogue that I had to sign in so that he could keep track of me.
I ordered a Guinness and started to take a look around. The small area was full of photographs of places in Ireland, many of which I recognized. There was a dart board, some Celtic nicknacks and decor, and a few stools, but not much else.
I asked the bartender about the photos and he said that he took some and that his brother had taken others. The bartender, Patrick, is the owner of the pub, and is from Galway, actually, somewhere between Galway and Kilfanora. I mentioned my 2015 trip, and we chatted a bit more. He was pleased that I knew several town names and locations in County Claire.
I asked to see a menu, but Patrick told me that they didn’t have a kitchen. So no Irish fare available. He did say that they had purchased the building next door and would be making major changes, which includes a kitchen and menu. More on that in a bit, but I needed to make that clear in order for what I saw next to make sense.
Patrick encouraged me to take a look around, especially out back. My feeling was that I had stepped into the TARDIS, bigger on the inside. Well, in this case the outside. Behind the small pub was a huge outdoor entertainment space with covered decks, another bar area connected to the interior, and two sand volleyball courts.
There were several areas with gas grills. Since there is no kitchen patrons are allowed to bring their own food and use these.
Between the two volleyball courts is a covered area with TVs, seating, and foosball. Beyond that is a stage which would be an excellent place for performances. I asked Patrick about live music and he said that it had been a long time since he’d had live music. They haven’t had traditional Irish music.
Back inside I got more information from Patrick. He first told me about The Playwright, which I listed as a cautionary tale in my last Irish pub post. I said that it struck me as inauthentic. Patrick said that there are businesses in Ireland that churn out fittings for the American Irish pub market. So, there was nothing really special about the fittings at The Playwright. Patrick knows because he purchase most of those fittings from The Playwright when it closed for a measly $500. He was in the process of installing a couple of panels from the former pub when I first arrived.
As for his plans for expansion, Patrick had once owned the pub now known as Fitzpatrick’s. He opened that pub as Dougal McGuire’s. He retained the rights to that name when the Laurens Road pub changed hands and became Fitzpatrick’s. When the remodeling and kitchen are complete Patrick plans to change the name of this pub to Dougal McGuire’s. BTW, Dougal McGuire was the name of the young priest on the BBC TV show “Father Ted“, which was set in Ireland.
I was quite impressed with Patrick’s establishment. While it may not have been traditional in the sense that I was thinking, it had the spirit of on Irish pub. I made a point to come back with Houston a couple of weeks later and he had a similar impression.
Connolly’s Irish Pub
Since I’d visited Fitzpatrick’s Pub recently I skipped it and headed downtown to Connolly’s Irish Pub. Connolly’s has been a fixture on Court Street in Greenville since the early 1990s. I’d visited several times, including once at a severely overcrowded Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. It had been awhile since I’d been there, though, so I thought another visit was warranted.
Local attorney Suzanne Coe opened the pub, then left its operation to others for a long time. In 2015 she gave an interview to the Greenville News in which she expressed her desire for the pub to return to its roots, including regular traditional Irish Music.
That was in 2015. The 2019 reality is that the bartender was only aware of local non-Irish bands playing in the pub. However, it did look like things had changed since my last visit.
The pub consisted of two main spaces. There was the bar in a large open area. It looked like the space could be used as a dance floor with room for a bar at one end. Through a large opening there was a more formal dining area with booths. There were a couple of dart boards at one end of the dining space. For whatever reason I didn’t get good images of the interior.
Since it was time for dinner I ordered a Guinness and asked for a menu. The menu had some Irish fare, including Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, and Fish and Chips.
Their special for the evening, though, was a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. The only other bar patron had ordered it, and it looked pretty good. Tasted pretty good, too.
The bartender was experimenting with drinks and made up some sort of green rum concoction he called a “Scooby Snack.” He poured three small glasses – one for himself, one for me, and one for the other patron. We toasted and I enjoyed a free drink. It was quite good, too.
Since I was already downtown I wanted to check out one more pub in the area. I drove down Main Street and passed a huge gathering at NOMA Square. Once I parked and walked over to the square I found that a memorial for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was just starting.
I stayed for the memorial, then headed to my next target across the street.
Kilpatrick’s Public House
Kilpatrick’s was a bust. First it wasn’t open. Secondly, I don’t think it even belongs on a list of Irish pubs. It’s part of a three-in-one concept that consists of Pour, The Comedy Zone, and Fitzpatrick’s.
Supposedly Kilpatrick’s menu would have the standard Irish fare and pub food that I’ve found in other places. However, when I tried to go to their website to view their menu, their domain name had expired. At least they still have a Facebook presence.
Since the whole place was closed I tried to get some shots of the interior through the windows. It looks like Kilpatrick’s is just a small bar in a small corner of the larger space.
So one unexpected discovery, one somewhat known quantity, and one bust. The Irish Pub seems like a keeper to me, and I want to visit once Patrick gets his remodeling done. I’ll probably be back to Connolly’s at sometime, but I don’t think I’ll fool with Kilpatrick’s. I also want to get back down to McGee’s when they are open.
In the next post in the series I take a look at a few more pubs across the border in North Carolina.