Essence of the Irish Pub
Selecting the best Irish pubs in America seems like an idea conceived in one; few follow through on the notion the next morning. But after talking with pub owner and friend Ron Wallace, Robert Meyers(PolSci’61) spent a year traveling more than 10,000 miles for the project.
The result is the coffee table book Irish Pubs in America: History, Lore and Recipes. Its beautiful photography and lively writing chronicle more than 50 Irish pubs across America. Some are true institutions while others could be considered dives. The common thread is that each has an interesting story or special ambience.
“It’s a gathering place,” Meyers says of the pub. “It’s a second home. It’s where life’s great moments are lived and shared. People celebrate births and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries and even funerals. There’s something almost magical or mystical about an Irish pub. It’s just an incredible, wonderful institution.”
Meyers says the difficult part of putting together the book was not which pubs to include but which to omit. He and collaborator Wallace started with more than 150 of them. They culled the list and then began the task — if you can call it that — of visiting pubs, looking for those elements that made them stand out. Two Denver pubs are included — Nallen’s and Scruffy Murphy’s — along with mainstays in traditional Irish towns like Boston, Chicago and New York, and newcomers in Honolulu and Los Angeles.
“We searched for that certain something that makes a pub a story,” Meyers says. “When you walk into a great pub, you know it the minute you walk in.”
The book not only celebrates significant Irish pubs across the country but delivers lessons in history and historic preservation. Sidebar articles give a short synopsis on topics from whiskey distilling to building the Erie Canal to banyan trees.
“We tried to make the book not only entertaining, but informative,” he says.
His work as an author makes a third career for Meyers. After leaving CU he served in foreign service international posts in South America and Europe, then worked in the private sector for Bendix, which develops and supplies safety technologies like air braking systems for commercial vehicles. He began writing after retiring.
While the Irish pub is nearly as ubiquitous around the world as the Chinese restaurant, Meyers says the special connection between Ireland and America makes the book particularly relevant.
“This book is a tribute to the Irish and what they have accomplished and contributed to the United States,” he says. “We Americans owe the Irish so much, and we use the book as a vehicle to celebrate that.”
Photography courtesy Robert Meyers