From the exterior, the prospects of Tír na nÓg being a better-than-average Irish/American bar is not promising. Even the worst “Irish bar” in the city — I use quotes as a majority of the “Irish bars” that are so ubiquitous here are really Irish-themed American bars and are generally pretty mediocre — but even the worst offender doesn’t proclaim on its facade that it is an “Irish pub” in gold, block letters bracketed with a pair of gold shamrocks. Oy.
That faux pas, on top of the fact that Tír na nÓg’s exterior is sleek, clean and corporate, even strip-mall-y, scared away any latent curiosity I’d had about the bar a long time ago. (And that’s a rare day indeed.) So when a friend suggested we meet at Tír na nÓg for a catch-up beer and maybe a snack, I couldn’t even place what bar she was talking about, despite the fact that I walk that block of Eighth Avenue several times a week. Sure, I said. At the end of the day, a bar’s a bar.
In a reverse case of lunch, which was probably destined for disappointment with my over-inflated falafel expectations, my utter lack of expectations for Tír na nÓg set me up to be wowed.
Not by the beer: A pint’s a pint. Nor by the food: I ordered the pork pie and fries ($10), which, while tasty, doesn’t hold a candle to the pork pies from Myers of Keswick, the British butcher shop and sundries store in the West Village. But by the the interior, the ambiance. Walking in past that terrible lettering and bland facade, I was shocked to see sumptuous, dark wood; ornate detailing; stained glass-inspired lighting; castle-style chandeliers over the bar. Really extraordinary stuff.
Sure enough, the place is full of salvaged bits from across the pond. From the website:
A design team and artisans from Ireland created this small piece of Ireland by salvaging interesting architectural pieces, furniture and bric-a-brac from churches and castles in Ireland and shipping them to New York. These pieces, combined with rich textiles, Celtic script adorning the walls, and rich, dark wood have shaped an elegant yet inviting atmosphere.
Latent curiosity restored.