13 Aug 2022

GALLERY: Midlands man has built the perfect personal Irish pub in America

A man originally from the Midlands and now living in the United States has found the perfect way to cope with missing Ireland by building a fully functioning Irish bar in his basement complete with pints of Guinness on tap. 

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Over the years, the Irish have made their way all over the world with thousands of people from every continent claiming Irish heritage.

However, leaving your home country isn’t always easy as there is so much to miss when you cross the water, especially if it’s Ireland!

Laois man Jim Phelan moved to Baltimore, Maryland with his wife Katie over 14 years ago, and they’ve found the perfect solution to cure their homesick blues.

Missing life on the Emerald Isle, Jim and Katie decided to bring a bit of Irish culture into their Baltimore home with the creation of Phelan’s Irish Pub, a fully functioning Irish pub in their very own basement.

Explaining the motivation for the project, Jim said: “When my wife Katie and I decided to purchase a home, our search criteria included a wide-open basement, which would essentially serve as a blank canvas for this project.

“I am the founding member and banjo player with a Baltimore based Celtic Rock band called The ShamRogues, and my wife is one of two Irish dancers within the group.

“I wanted a place to relax with a beer, she wanted a practice stage, and the band wanted a rehearsal space, so throw those three together, and a pub seemed to be the perfect solution!” 

With the help of friends and family, the building of the pub took just over two weeks to complete. But collecting the perfect décor to give it an authentic Irish pub feel took over three years.

“I’m constantly on the lookout for bits and pieces, and many of our friends have contributed to our décor including several beautiful pieces that were gifted to us from our friends and family in Ireland,” Jim explained.

“The centrepiece of the pub has to be my collection of Preakness Stakes commemorative glasses. They were introduced in 1973, the year that Secretariat won the Triple Crown, and I’ve managed to collect them all to date.”

Complete with a distinctive red and green colour scheme, bar stools, dartboard, pool table, and a vast range of beers, stouts, and spirits on offer, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had walked into an Irish bar in the heart of Ireland.

The pub has come in handy for a number of uses including private family drinks, live music, birthday parties, and even an Irish wake for Katie’s brother Sean who sadly passed away shortly after the pub’s completion.

In a nod to the pub’s authenticity, Jim shared a story of the confusion caused after a few drinks.

“Possibly the most satisfying (and somewhat annoying) thing about this little hole-in-the-wall is that, after a few drinks, some of our guests tend to forget that they’re in a house and not an actual pub,” he states. 

“We’ve been known to encounter random people wandering about upstairs trying to find their way back to the bar. So much so that I had to add a reminder in the form of a Private Residence door at the base of the steps, it’s still not foolproof, but it certainly helps!”

So, maybe Jim and Katie have found the perfect solution for all the Irish emigrants living abroad –build your own Irish pub in the basement and relax with a pint of Guinness.

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