‘Best Irish Pub in the World’ competition entry: Ireland’s 32, Van Nuys, California

‘Walking into that pub on that night, after my wife left me, was one of the best things I ever did’

The Irish Times' Generation Emigration project is on the hunt for the best Irish pub in the world outside Ireland. The following is one of the entries we've received so far. To read more, or find out how to nominate your favourite Irish pub abroad, click here.

It was 1999, and my wife had just moved out. I hadn’t been out to a bar by myself in years. I walked into Ireland’s 32, drawn inside by the live, authentic, traditional Irish music. The musicians were all Irish born transplants, and singer, Ken O’Malley, was belting out the best rendition of “Dirty Old Town”, I’d ever heard.

I was right at home, having grown up in an Irish neighbourhood on the west side of Cleveland. There I was, approaching middle age, my wife gone, and I’m back in the bars. I laughed out loud at myself, and shook my head, incredulously.

The barman scowled and shouted at me, “What’s so funny?” I turned to him and smiled, “My wife just left me!”


His demeanour softened, he poured some Jameson, shook my hand, handed me the glass and said “It’s on the house”.

And from that moment onward, I became part of a community, a family, really. We sang together, danced, performed Irish theatre in the pub, and of course, raised a glass in friendship.

Then one of the pub plays got noticed, and took Los Angeles by storm. Marty, the actor and barman, and I, the director, travelled with our production to New York, Boston, Dublin, London, and even won Best Production at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Walking into that pub on that night, all those years ago, was one of the best things I ever did. My life was changed, utterly. I was home. irelands32.com

Think your favourite Irish pub abroad could claim the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland)? Tell us about it by entering the competition here.