By Carol Tannenhauser
Dublin House, the Irish pub on West 79th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway will celebrate 100 years on the Upper West Side this weekend — a remarkable achievement made even more so by the fact that its most popular product was illegal when it opened. The pub, whose magnificent neon sign is being restored with the help of some donors, is having a three-day party starting on Friday (see the schedule below).
The bar opened shortly after the last major pandemic hit the United States, and just one year after Prohibition, the constitutional ban on alcohol in the United States, went into effect. Bars couldn’t serve alcohol from January, 1920 through December, 1933.
Banning alcohol didn’t curb America’s thirst for it, which is why Dublin House began as a speakeasy. According to the blog Lost New York City:
[A] man named Carway rented the space back in 1921 and operated it as a speakeasy. The first floor was the bar, the second floor the restaurant, the back of the third floor was the kitchen. There was a dumb waiter where the phone booth currently is. Carway bought the building in 1933 after Prohibition was repealed. At that time, he erected the neon harp sign. Perhaps he made the sign so big and bright as a sort of rebuke to The Noble Experiment.
The bar remained family-owned and operated for the next 85 years, with Carway’s nephew Chris Water taking over at some point. Mike Cormican, a Dublin House bartender (born in Ireland), bought it in 2006. He’s a small man with white hair. I saw him busying himself about the place when I was last there, saying hello to the regulars, who mostly spoke with Irish accents.
We spoke to Mike this week as he prepared for the celebration. “We survived the Covid. We’re back in business. They’ve been here for so many years,” he added, sounding more like a temporary steward of the bar than its owner. “It’s very good to see they’re still here. We definitely want to keep it going, definitely want to keep it going. That’s for sure.”
Dublin House will be celebrating its century of good cheer and great beer (they’re known for their Guinness) all weekend. Here’s the schedule.
And read WSR’s earlier story about the night Mrs. Maisel and Lenny Bruce had drinks at Dublin House!