THE BEST PLACES FOR A PINTBY: Judy Enright
You don’t need to claim an Irish lineage to appreciate hoisting a pint of Guinness or donning green apparel on Saint Patrick’s Day. In fact, the South Shore is home to numerous Irish pubs that are popular destinations all year long. Visitors can enjoy hearty Irish-inspired dishes and live musical seisiúns, where groups of musicians perform traditional tunes on fiddles, flutes, accordions, tin whistles, banjos, bodhráns (Celtic drums) and guitars. Here are a few of our favorite Irish watering holes.
Mr. Dooley’s Olde Irish Village Pub
Just a few steps from Cohasset Common is a cozy pub with a world of Irish charm. Mr. Dooley’s Olde Irish Village Pub opened its doors in Cohasset four years ago and offers lunch and dinner daily. Part of the Somers’ Pubs family, the Cohasset establishment joins sister locations in Wrentham and Boston that includes Durty Nelly’s, Green Dragon, Hennessy’s, Hooley House and Paddy O’s.
The atmosphere at Mr. Dooley’s in Cohasset is welcoming and convivial, with the chef serving up traditional Irish fare, like shepherd’s pie, a mixed grill, fish and chips and Irish chicken curry. There’s Guinness Stout, Smithwick’s and Harp on tap, which can be enjoyed in the warm glow of old fashioned lantern lights, surrounded by Irish-themed décor. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is followed by a live seisiún from 1 to 4 p.m. An open mic night is held on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.
9 Depot Court, Cohasset,
Flynn’s Irish Pub
Opened in 2014, it didn’t take long for Flynn’s Irish Pub in Plymouth to become a popular eating and drinking destination. Partners (and brothers) John and Matt Downes modeled the restaurant after successful sister locations in Sagamore and Mansfield, but the Cedarville location has its own distinct charm and Irish-themed décor. The wall behind bar and the band area were constructed using reclaimed wood taken from an old Nantucket schoolhouse and Gaelic sayings were carved into a thick wood beam over the bar. “This is a family place with a family atmosphere,” says John. “The tables face the bar, which is the center of everything in Irish pubs and the food is comfort food.” The menu includes Irish favorites like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. There are also creative Irish-inspired appetizers like fried Reuben spring rolls, packed with corned beef and sauerkraut and served with a tub of Russian dressing for dipping. The pub’s jaw-dropping burger list and lineup of 78 beers on tap are two more reasons people keep coming back.
2240 State Rd., Cedarville,
The Tinkers Son
When Brian Houlihan opened The Tinker’s Son in Norwell seven years ago, he didn’t have to look far to find a good name. He chose the title of a poem written in 1954 by his father, Liam, about a young Irish tinker (gypsy) named O’Toole, who was taunted as a child and returns to town years later as the parish priest (the poem’s printed on the dining room wall).
Houlihan, a trained chef from Ballincollig, County Cork, crafted a menu that includes Irish fare – salmon, lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips—and his mother Kitty’s Finnan Haddie (a smoked haddock dish). There’s also a gluten-free menu. The parched will find Guinness Stout and Blonde, Harp, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s and Magners hard cider all on tap and assorted drinks, including those that combine Guinness with beer and Magners. Musicians gather at 11 a.m. on Sundays during the restaurant’s popular brunch and on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. for rousing seisiúns. There’s live music at Tinker’s Son six nights a week, making it a dynamite place to catch a wide range of local music acts.
707 Main St., Norwell,
What would a Jewish kid from Whitman know about Irish pubs? Undaunted, Richard Rosen, a realtor by profession, bought an empty 19th-century building downtown, drew his design on a napkin, borrowed his wife Kathryn’s maiden name and McGuiggan’s Pub was born on December 9, 2009. Most of the staff, hired when the pub opened, is still working there today—a testament to the management. Rosen’s daughter, Danielle, a Johnson & Wales grad, is the manager.
Rosen calls McGuiggan’s “a true family restaurant,” and sponsors an annual 5K race that benefits local charities. The pub is wheelchair accessible with a 60-seat dining room and impressive 54-foot mahogany bar. Guinness is on tap and bottled Magners Irish Cider, Harp and Smithwick’s are available. Bill Bell leads popular seisiúns on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Chef Chris McMillan, formerly of TK O’Malley’s in Scituate, offers Irish favorites like Guinness beef stew, traditional fish and chips and salmon filet with basil butter. His shepherd’s pie was so popular, says Rosen, that McMillan now makes a shepherd’s pie pizza.
546 Washington St., Whitman
You might say serendipity kept Ed and Ellen (Nally) Brown in Hingham when they were actively seeking a place to buy in Vermont. When The Colonial, a downtown bar went up for sale, the owner approached the Browns and “three days later we put it together,” says Ed Brown. The Snug opened 13 years ago and its popularity has grown steadily ever since. “We’re very happy with the success and the key is absolutely our staff.” Maria Malfa has been the manager at The Snug since the doors opened. One major draw of the cozy pub is the popular and packed 5:30 p.m. Monday seisiún led by Skip Toomey. Adding to the allure is The Snug’s homemade food and breads. One of the menu favorites is the charbroiled sirloin tips flavored with a secret marinade. Fourteen draft lines dispense Guinness and Smithwick’s as well as craft beers that are introduced regularly. The staff is community-oriented, sponsoring sports teams and supporting local charities. “I hope the pub is here long after I’m gone,” says Brown.
116 North St., Hingham,
The Banner Pub
Having known hunger as a child, growing up in Dorchester, Ed Reid doesn’t believe anyone should go hungry. He and his wife, Brenda Kelly, from County Kildare in Ireland, serve a free buffet with roast beef, ham and side dishes during Patriots’ games and focus fundraising year-round on the community, specifically the Rockland food pantry. Thousands of dollars have been raised for the food pantry over the years, including through the use of a “swear jar” into which patrons can contribute if they suffer a slip of the tongue.
The couple opened The Banner Pub in the Hotel Thomas 13 years ago. Menu items include daily specials, a full Irish breakfast and mixed grill, and the week of St. Patrick’s Day, Reid cooks up to 400 pounds of corned beef. The Banner has a welcoming main pub with nightly entertainment, a cozy adjoining sports bar and a spacious outdoor “Paddy’O” for warm weather. Guinness is on tap and Smithwick’s and Magners cider are available inside the historic hotel pub, where sports legends Babe Ruth and John L. Sullivan once dined and drank and where Calvin Coolidge delivered a speech from the porch.
167 Union St. (inside Hotel Thomas), Rockland,