By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – An Ipanema drinking institution and top gringo hot-spot, The Irish Pub on Praça General Osório is to close in October after a protracted debate over the continuation of the business’s lease agreement. The closure follows that of another Ipanema Irish bar, Waxy’s, in July this year, but The Irish will not leave quietly, with two special parties lined up for September.
Owned and run by Irishman Padraig Flavin, the pub has been popular amongst expats, tourists and locals alike for eight years. Padraig, who hails from Cork but has lived in Rio since 1997, opened the bar in 2002 having run another Irish pub, The Shamrock, in Copacabana since 1999.
That bar closed in 2003, but the reputation for creating a genuine friendly Irish pub environment followed him. “People knew me from The Shamrock and so we were successful from the start. Up to now we’ve been doing well,” he said.
As Padraig explains, the imminent closure isn’t due to a lack of business but the lease agreement on the premises. “It’s a five year lease so we applied for the next five years but the landlord decided not to give it to us.”
It has been this uncertainty over the last three years that prevented any modernizing of the bar, as Padraig would have liked: “We would have renovated the place rather than fixing but it didn’t make sense to invest”.
The lack of refurbishment has embellished the atmosphere though. Traditional wood decor with cozy booths and an Irish-style bar, the warm ambiance coupled with a classic rock soundtrack is a comfort for many tourists and expats, as well as a genuine Irish pub experience for locals.
Serving pub food and a range of imported beers including Dublin’s finest, Guinness, the bar has charmed visitors and residents with it’s friendly authenticity, and attracted local celebrities like Sharon Menezes, Aline Moraes, Daniela Mercury, Alexandre Borges and even members of Def Leppard.
Long term employee Ana Paula Salmeron enthuses about the special feel of the place, saying; “The people I know there are friends, both tourists and Brazilians and everyone says how it feels like a home.”
For regular Gerry Grant, an Irishman from Limerick who has been visiting Rio for six years and living in Ipanema for the last year and a half, the Irish Pub is the real article. “It’s the only Irish-owned pub in Rio and there’s always a friendly atmosphere,” he says. “A lot of Irish places are just Irish themed bars but you can tell a proper Irish pub by the craic“.
To the disappointment of regulars, the Irish Pub will close next month but in the meantime it is business as usual, and with two special events this month. On September 17th will be a “Half St Patrick’s Day” event marking the six month’s since the St Paddy’s Day proper on March 17th with traditional Irish music and special bar promotions. Meanwhile, September 23rd is Arthur Guinness Day celebrating the man who created Ireland’s most famous export, doubtless with serious re-stocking of the cult black beverage.