St. Patrick’s Day is here, indeed: the day many of us at Atlas are accustomed to finding ourselves surrounded by green-clad friends in silly hats toasting with a frothy Guinness at our favorite local Irish pub. Last year, the pandemic hit Lisbon just before we could do just that, and this year, again, we find ourselves at a loss. Saudade has come in a strange Irish package, especially when it comes to the oldest Irish pub in Lisbon.
O Gilin’s Irish Pub in Cais do Sodre celebrated a milestone achievement two days ago: 25 years since the date of its original opening. Each year of its existence has been marked with a birthday party hosted by the founder, Conor Gillen. Friends and family have routinely been invited to the pub to enjoy delicious food and drink on the 15th of March every year but the last two, due to the pandemic. But Gillen is staying positive and busy despite the pause in business.
“It’s been a fantastic adventure. We’ve made many great memories and had the pleasure of meeting lots and lots of wonderful people. To see O’Gilin’s become a historic bar at this point in Lisbon is truly a milestone, as 25 years is no short term in anybody’s mind. It’s not every day you can see a dream come true and last 25 years,” Gillen says.
Since opening the pub, Gillen has also ventured out to open the wildly successful Crafty Corner, formerly located on Travessa Corpo Santo in Cais do Sodre — and formerly Atlas’ secondary HQ. Gillen was also part-owner of next-door Hennessy’s Irish bar. Both watering holes have closed since the building was purchased by real estate developers who intend to turn it into a hotel. Crafty Corner is currently looking for a new home, but there’s no update on where and when it will pop up again.
When asked if not being able to toast with his O’Gilin’s family this year due to the pandemic was bittersweet, Gillen said, “Well, it’s sweet bitter, because I’ll probably live longer as a result. I’ll have a lot more St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in front of me now that I could skip the big one!”
Instead of hosting their annual celebration, O’Gilin’s marked the 25-year occasion with a post on social media written by Conor Gillen that reads, “A quarter of a century ago, we opened bringing the good times and the best Guinness to Lisbon. We can’t deny how important it is to bring happiness and fun. I personally believe that we’ve been in the business for so long because we did it right. Everything that we do is with love and it reflects in the client’s experience. We’ve written a beautiful history so far and there’ll be many more to come! Thank you all for being part of our history, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are without our dearest clients and friends. All the best from the O’Gilins family, the one that you’re part of. Cheers to that!”
Cheers, indeed. And congratulations.