Conor O’Neills Serves Up Food, Music and Community

While Saint Patrick’s Day comes but once a year in March, every day is a day to celebrate Irish heritage and the community at Conor O’Neills.

We dined and enjoyed the music at Conor O’Neills multiple times and we also interviewed Tom Murray, the owner who shared so much of their unique offerings and history.

We feel great pride in the fact we have been here for almost 25 years, we love to think about all the people that have walked through our doors, and all the friends we have made over the last 25 years,” Murray said.  “We hope to be part of this wonderful community for a long time to come.”

Their food offerings include both familiar food in this country as well as that from abroad.

“We pride ourselves on serving a mixture of Traditional Irish Fare and American Comfort Food,” Murray said.

He specified that they offer an “Irish fry,” which is an Irish breakfast, served with imported Irish Bacon, Irish Sausage, and Black and White Pudding.

“It (the Irish fry) comes with Irish brown bread, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and potatoes,” he said. Fish and Chips is our most popular dish.”

Corned Beef and Cabbage is very popular around St. Patrick’s Day, but it is served all year round.

For pies, we have, shepherd’s pie, fisherman’s pie and Chicken pot pie,” he said.

We have a great vegetarian dish called Irish boxty, which is a potato pancake with sautéed red and green peppers, mushrooms, and onions, topped with a pesto mayo and served with a side salad.”

They also have curry fries, which is not traditional Irish fare, but a popular dish in Ireland according to Murray.

“For dessert, we have a strawberry and rhubarb crumble and a fantastic bread pudding with vanilla sauce,” he said. “We make our Irish brown bread from imported Irish flour.”

We have tried almost everything on the menu, and our favorites were their corned beef, pies and their crisp salads.

Photo by Donna Iadipaolo.

Their American side includes burgers, rubens, and pork sandwiches, with an Irish twist of Guinness and Jameson BBQ sauce. Other favorite appetizers are poutine, chicken tenders, fried brie, pretzel bits, and spinach and artichoke tips.

What we find just as enjoyable as the food is the music they play on Sunday nights. We have witnessed stellar performances of fiddles, harps, accordions, and guitars, all jamming together in gleeful tunes that even prompt some to dance at times.

“The traditional Irish session is a group of people playing different instruments,” Murray said. “It is something that has to be experienced, musicians of all different skill levels sitting in a circle and playing tunes.”

Even some of the staff has Irish roots.

“Caroline who has worked here since we opened is from Dublin and Aoife is from Sligo,” Murray said. “We have had many Irish staff over the years. Our staff are wonderful, they are a team, they have fun and they make sure the guests leave feeling like they have been at a great Irish pub.  Our wonderful staff and our great customers become part of what makes Conor O’Neill’s a real authentic pub with Irish hospitality and a feeling of belonging.”

“We had a company source the inside of the pub, including bric-a-brac and furniture. We had the stone in the pub in our cottage area shipped from a quarry on Valencia Island,” Murray said. “We had stone masons from Ireland come and build the stone wall and fireplace.  We had an Irish artist come from Ireland and paint the walls and ceiling to create the most authentic Irish feel.”

Murray said that each part of the pub is a section of Irish culture.

“We have the music section with Ceili flyers painted on the ceiling and Michael Coleman, a great old Irish fiddler, painted on the walls as well as words like ‘coel agus craic’ which means music and fun in Gaelic,” Murray said.

Other aspects of Irish culture are celebrated as well.

“We have a writers’ section which has James Joyce, Yeats, and Brendan Behan,” Murray said. “We have a sports section, dedicated to Gaelic football and hurling.  We have a fishing and farming theme, with quotes on the wall like, ‘there are finer fish in the sea yet to be caught.’  We have a distillery section with old Bushmills barrels that have been turned into tables and a case of old bottle openers.  We have a Cottage section, with a fireplace and stone walls and floors. It has a quote on the wall that says, ‘You’ll never plough the field by turning it over in your mind.’”

The pub is also very involved in community events.

“We have a race every year to raise money for Mott Children’s Hospital, Save a Heart, which is for the Congenital Heart Center,” Murray said. “We have this race in coordination with RF Events, it also includes kids 1K which is a lot of fun. The art that you recently saw in the window of Conor O’Neill’s is from Youth Art Month which is a great event with the Main Street Area Association which works with the local schools to display the artwork of the kids.  This year we were honored to display the very talented artwork from the kids at Community High School.

The way that they pour a pint of Guinness is one of the best in town, and their method is highly scientific.

“We serve a 20 oz pint as (they do) in Ireland and we ensure our beer lines are professionally cleaned,” Murray said. “We ensure the gas is the correct mix for each of our beers. We pour the product three quarters of the way at a 45-degree angle, then we let it settle.  Then we top it up.

Photo by Donna Iadipaolo.

We take the time to ensure every pint is perfect, every time.”

There is certainly something for everyone at Conor O’Neills and they work hard to make you feel included. Without question, it is family-friendly as well.

“As in Ireland, a pub is a gathering stop, a place to catch up with your friends and neighbors, a place to be part of the community,” Murray said.  “We have many community events that ensure this feeling and atmosphere is consistent.”

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