Long live the Irish
Long live their cheer
Long live our friendship
Year after year.
— Irish Saying
Shea O’Brien’s, the recently opened Irish Pub and Restaurant at 127 Main Street in downtown New Paltz, was hopping this past weekend during its weekly Sunday brunch, complete with an omelet bar, pancake bar, fresh fruit, salmon, salads and free champagne and mimosas — not to mention the traditional Irish music keeping the place warm and festive.
Already the word-of-mouth has spread like Irish wildfire, and one glance at the restaurant reveals New Paltz families, couples and business-owners who have already become “regulars,” even though Shea O’Brien’s only opened in mid-October.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the response — how friendly everyone is here, how genuine,” said co-owner Kevin Murtagh, whose family hails from County Sligo in the west of Ireland. “It’s the best county in the country!” he says with an Irish laugh. “Although my wife’s from Dublin, so I better be careful here!”
Murtagh lives in Pearl River and has owned a neighborhood Irish pub there, Murray’s, for years. “I wasn’t looking for anything. The pub runs great, life was good; but my friend Tim ‘Mickey’ Mahoney asked me to take a look at this place in New Paltz.”
The two friends — Murtagh, a lifelong barman, and Mahoney, a skilled contractor — looked at 127 Main, had coffee downtown, breakfast at Tommy C’s, a drink at the Gilded Otter and by the end of their tour, Murtagh was sold. “The people here are amazingly open and friendly. The town was hopping, the building was perfect and I thought that we could bring an authentic Irish pub and restaurant here that the community would embrace. And they have.”
“I was in New York City two weeks ago, and my phone blew up with people texting me how great the Sunday brunch was at Shea O’Brien’s,” said Deb Rauch, owner of In Good Taste Wine and Spirits and wife of Rick Rauch, who owns the Gilded Otter. They were there with family to enjoy the magnificent spread. “Word of mouth is everything, and these guys are doing a fantastic job,” she said.
“That’s the thing of it,” said Murtagh. “This is a real community. We’re not in competition with one another; we want to support each other and bring more people to New Paltz. They could have lunch here, and some drinks at P&G’s, or have dinner at the Gilded Otter and come up here and enjoy a pint afterwards.”
He greeted the owner of Kimlin Propane, who was there to enjoy brunch, and told the New Paltz Times that the “real success of this place is the gas!”
Murtagh mentioned how he wanted to decorate the outside of the restaurant when they opened in October, and was directed to the Wallkill View Farm. “Sandy [Ferrante] was so helpful. He loaded up all of our barrels of hay and mums and delivered them to us with his truck. I can’t tell you how much this community has opened their arms to us. When it’s growing season, I want to utilize all of the local fresh produce we can!”