A line of green-shirted wait staff and the scent of freshly dried plaster greeted the first guests at the new Kieran’s Irish Pub, which opened this afternoon in the old Bellanotte space in Block E.
Owner Kieran Folliard unlocked the door to his new pub around 4 p.m., welcoming a throng of several hundred revelers who had paraded over from the old location, at 4th Street and 2nd Avenue. The Brian Boru Pipe Band — with their traditional kilts, bagpipes and drums — escorted the crowd into the 10,000 square foot bar.
Today’s parade also commemorated the pub’s golden birthday — it opened 16 years ago on March 16.
Crowds began gathering at the old Kieran’s location around 2 p.m. With the registers shut down, bartenders poured free pints for a few hours, asking drinkers to leave a donation in a metal bucket. At 3 p.m., Adam Coolong from Celtic rock band The Wild Colonial Bohys led a live auction for the final pints ever to be served at the old location.
Single beers went for hundreds of dollars a piece, with the final pint of Guinness selling for $500. One woman paid $425 dollars for the final shot of Jameson.
All proceeds from the free pint donations and the auction went to Folliard’s commitment to send a 16-year-old Hopkins boy to this year’s World Cup in South Africa, as part of the Make-A-Wish program.
Marc and Kris, a couple from Bloomington, said that they had been coming to Kieran’s every weekend since the late '90s.
“This feels like a peoples’ pub,” said Kris. “It’s the most cozy out of all of [Folliard’s] bars. It’s not pretentious. And it’s not a contrived American version of an Irish pub.”
The bagpipers led the parade out onto 4th Street. Longtime bartender Alice McGrath, who has worked at Kieran’s since it opened in 1994, marched arm-in-arm with Tony Winick, who according to McGrath, “is one of the longest regulars Kieran’s has ever had” and “an honorary employee.”
Winick was the man who won the final pint of Guinness. He carried his prized pint, not spilling a drop, all the way to Block E.
McGrath also marched with a full glass of Guinness, keeping a perfect one-inch head at brim level.
Opening toasts at the new location were planned for 5 p.m. The Wild Colonial Bohys and the St. Dominic’s Trio were scheduled to perform live music, with Rince na Chroi performing traditional Irish dances.