Openings and Closings

What's Happening to Our Irish Pubs? Conor O'Neill's the Latest to Shutter

The luck of the Irish has been running low of late, with several Irish pubs shuttering. The latest to deliver the bad news is Conor O'Neill's Irish Pub, at 1922 13th Street in Boulder, which will close permanently on Sunday, October 2, after seventeen years in business.

The Boulder longtimer posted this message on its Facebook page:
We're sad to announce that Conor O'Neill's will be closing on October 2nd. Thank you for 17 great years! Please come to Conor's and celebrate one last time this week. We appreciate all your business and your friendships. We will truly miss being part of the community in Boulder.

Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd will be one hell of a bash!
The announcement follows on the heels of the closing of the Celtic Tavern and Delaney's Pub just two days ago. And earlier this year, Katie Mullen's, Wee Katie's and Maloney's all closed — the first two as the result of bankruptcy, and the last because of failure to pay rent and taxes.

Are Irish pubs the fern bars of the 1990s and 2000s? Is the Gaelic theme falling from favor as a younger generation gravitates toward hip cocktail bars or neighborhood craft breweries? Maybe green just isn't our collective color here on the Front Range.

There's at least one piece of good news, though, giving a silver lining to the dark cloud that hangs over our local representatives of the Emerald Isle. The owner of the Celtic Tavern, Noel Hickey, has indicated that his pub will rise again. Displaced by redevelopment at 18th and Wazee streets, Hickey notes on Facebook that he's found a new location where he'll reopen the Celtic: 1400 Market Street. That's the former home of Buca Di Beppo, and the space hasn't seen much activity since the Italian restaurant chain pulled out of downtown in 2008. (It was briefly a marijuana dispensary, though, so the green theme at least has a precedent.)


But while you await the eventual return of the Celtic, you'll still need a cozy pub where you can whistle along to Irish reels and down pints of inky stout. Here's our list of the ten best Irish pubs in the metro area, which includes Nallen's, which just happens to be across the street from the future home of the Celtic.

May you always have coin in your pocket for another round.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation