By Dani Frank
On the singular holiday of the year based in the celebrations of a saint, but ultimately celebrating painting the town green, Saint Patrick’s Day is beloved for its history of indulgence and intoxication. The holiday is best celebrated with friends, perhaps family if you’re cut from the Irish cloth, and most definitely members of your community. Is there any better way to bond with strangers than sharing a pint of the same brew, in honor of the same holiday?
Eschew the big city buzz of establishments like New Haven’s Anna Liffey’s or Hartford’s McKinnon’s Irish Pub for the neighborhood pub feel of Brennan’s Shebeen. Winner of the Fairfield County Weekly’s Best Neighborhood Bar, the venue is located in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport; a neighborhood popular with Fairfield University students for the easy access to a bunch of bars and pubs lending themselves to younger partygoers. Head down Fairfield Avenue, passing other popular institutions like the more upscale Irish-themed restaurant The Field, live music spot Acoustic Café, and settle on the unassuming façade of Brennan’s Shebeen.
In co-owner Kieran McAlinder’s homeland of Ireland, a shebeen is known as an illegal drinking establishment; a converted space or building concealing the consumption of alcohol. Guests are given some historical backgrounds on shebeens, as well as the Emerald Isle in and of itself, immediately upon sitting down at their table. Maintaining an air of secrecy can make an illicit act all the more exciting, and co-owners Kieran McAlinder and Michael Brennan have kept the buzz going since their March 2010 grand opening, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, natch, with a theme and event for every night of the week.
Start the week off with 25-cent wings on Monday, and celebrate through to Sunday, from trivia night to grabbing a reuben or other original Irish food for $6. So, with a penchant for providing pub-goers with original entertainment and traditional tastes, Brennan’s makes sure to up the ante for the rowdy revelry of March 17. Look for bagpipers and fiddlers in place of the steady stream of local bands, Irish dancers boasting curls piled slightly higher than their impressive kicks, and enough Guinness, corned beef sandwiches and touches of orange, white and green to invoke the Irish spirit even as far across the pond as Connecticut.
The accessible neighborhood vibe of the Shebeen invites Irish folk of all ages to attend, though those imbibing will need to be of legal age. Introducing little leprechauns to traditional Irish culture and customs is made easy at Shebeen’s. Stop in early for a live performance of Irish musicians and dancers, and make your exit before your seatmates have shared a few too many pitchers. But be sure to leave red, blue or other such colorful apparel at home, as Saint Patrick’s Day knows only one color of the rainbow.
Creative décor and consistent efforts to provide visitors with quality food and drink, a signature Angus burger, Shephard’s Pie and 9 beers on tap, as well as enticing entertainment and food and drink deals to keep visitors coming back. If you have yet to welcome the new restaurant/bar to the neighborhood, pay Brennan’s Shebeen a visit on the most revered of all Irish holidays, and you won’t be disappointed.
2652 Fairfield Avenue,
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Dani Frank is a fashion, travel and culture enthusiast and writer living in Easton, Connecticut. A recent graduate of Hofstra University, she is most happy when traversing the East Coast and beyond and documenting it all for curious readers. Read her further work here