McSorley’s Old Ale House-Irish Tavern
Last year for my birthday, my son’s, Keith and Ryan, took me to McSorley’s Old Ale House. I thought it fitting that for St. Patrick’s Day I share a little about New York City’s oldest Irish Tavern in New York City. Situated in lower Manhattan, in the East Village, where in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s many Irish immigrants who fled the “potato famine” in Ireland settled.
Established in 1854, McSorley’s is recognized as the City’s oldest and still operating Tavern. Some day’s, especially on weekends, it is nothing to stand in line and wait for an hour just to get in, as the inside of McSorley’s is very small, typical of the bars of yesteryear. Besides me, everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon have passed thru McSorley’s swinging doors. Woody Guthrie, with his guitar in hand, inspired the union movement from a table in the front tables of the bar. Walking along the “saw dust floors” one can feel the history that McSorley’s has shared with its customers for the past 164 years.
So pour yourself a mug of beer, and join me, as I take you through my experience at McSorley’s through the many pictures I took.
As one walks in, and steps through the “sawdust” floors, they are greeted by the Irish barmaids and waiters, who are more than willing to make your visit memorable. The walls are filled with much historical paraphernalia, artwork, and newspaper articles, many dating back to 1854, which gives McSorley’s an atmosphere that many consider reminiscent of “Olde New York.” No piece of memorabilia has been removed from the walls since 1910, and there are many items of “historical” paraphernalia in the bar, such as Houdini’s handcuffs, which are connected to the bar rail. As you can see from the pictures below, they still use the original Cash Register and Beer Taps from 1854!
I also took this picture of Jack Dempsey, one of McSorley’s regulars, during his reign as the World’s Boxing Champion during the 1920’s.
So while drinking our beers, we dined on their “Irish” speciality of Cheddar Cheese, Crackers, served with their spicy mustard (I guess giving one the incentive to keep drinking!!!).
With a treasure trove of New York City History filling the walls, what really caught my eye and attention were the very dust-laden wish bones hanging over the bar. Apparently the “Wishbones” hanging above the bar were hung there by many of the young men going off to World War I, only to be removed when they returned, the remaining wishbones that are still hanging to this day, are from those who never returned.
As noted by this sign, one of McSorley’s original motto’s was “Be Good or Be Gone”!
It was finally dark when we left and took a walk around the East Village, at the corner was the sign for St. Mark’s Place. I had to take this picture, as growing up I spent every weekend hanging out on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. If you are old enough to remember, the “Electric Circus” it was on St. Mark’s Place. Of course those days will have to wait for a different Blog of my life!!
Thanks to Keith and Ryan for making my Birthday, which was in November, a very memorable Irish experience!!!