The Luck of Astoria
Locals from Ireland Keeping the Clover Alive
Recently while out to dinner at a classic Astoria bar, I was asked the question: Why are there so many Irish in Astoria? The person who asked me this explained that on his dating app, more than half the women were from Ireland in Astoria. This was a perfect introduction for a piece about the Irish folks in Astoria, and the historic bars that come with it. With St. Patrick’s day coming up, wouldn’t it be great to be around the local favorites, the Guinness drinkers, and the smell of Shepherd’s Pie? These three bars have got the luck of the Irish.
At Irish Rover, I meet Johnny, a local Astorian. While he did not share about Irish expats coming to Astoria, he was able to share about his own experience at this unassuming bar.
“I moved to Astoria with nothing. Irish Rover was directly across the street from my place, and the first night I walked in they noticed I was new. They immediately poured me a shot of Jameson, gave me a map of where to go, and said; ‘you’re home now.’ After a long time of me coming frequently, I now have the keys to this bar, new local friends, and know every bartender here. This is home.’”
I could tell just how homey this bar was. It’s cozy yet maintained. While they don’t serve food, there is live traditional Irish music every Saturday and a Pub Quiz every Thursday. It keeps the locals coming, and the Irish feeling at home.
Irish Rover: 37-18 28th Ave
The modern aesthetic in The Wolfhound is different from the humble Irish bars you see around Astoria. Yet, the locals straight from Ireland are many – and they are passionate about this bar. I meet Murphy, with furry eyebrows, glasses, and blue eyes. An Irish classic. “He’s the man of the bar,” the manager, Nick says. I ask him why there are so many Irish in Astoria. Murphy says that in the 80’s, Astoria was booming with folks coming from Ireland. There was work here during the recession, and a lot of it was in Woodside, Astoria’s neighbor. During the late 1980’s, the European Union began developing, beginning economic growth in Ireland also known as the “Celtic Tiger” era. The Irish moved back to Ireland, yet years later many returned, creating homes and even managing Irish bars back in New York. I ask Murphy if St. Patrick’s Day is special to the locals from Ireland here, and he stated; “St. Patrick’s Day will never die here, it will always be a big day because the Irish in America are proud of their heritage.”
The Wolfhound has traditional live celtic music every other Saturday, in which of course, Murphy is front and center.
The Wolfhound: 38-14 30th Ave
Irish Whiskey Bar:
Stepping into Irish Whiskey Bar, I immediately feel a sense of comfortability and ease. I’ve always wondered what this bar entails, as there is an unused outdoor coffee window right next to the entrance. When I get to the end of the bar, I observe half the bar-goers drinking what looks to be an Irish Coffee. “A shot and a beer?” I overhear the owner Barry, say to one of his frequent customers. I mention who I write for and why I am at the bar. He offers me an Irish coffee or a shot of espresso. “An espresso, of course.” Barry has been an owner from Ireland since Irish Whiskey Bar opened about ten years ago. Their original plan was to serve coffee at the window outside, but ultimately decided against it. Now it is an inviting piece of the bar, and the locals know how they like their coffee (with a shot of Whiskey). Barry confirmed that most of the Irish expats originally came to Woodside, but a lot trickled into Astoria. For the rest of my thirty minutes there, I chat with locals while sipping my espresso, who provide a safe energy, and observe customers playing darts in the back. My last question to Barry was what makes the bar and its customers so special. “A sense of humor.” We laughed and had quick witted exchanges, as the Irish do. I almost didn’t leave the bar because of the upbeat yet kind energy that surrounded it. All I know is; I’ll be back.
Irish Whiskey Bar: 28-48 31st St.