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What Makes an Irish Pub Authentic: Featuring Terry O'Reilly's and Mick Morgan's Pub

By Kristen Bosse

No matter where you are in the world, you can find a bar with dark wood paneling and some form of Guinness on tap. Men and women of all ages file in looking for a warm, welcoming atmosphere that promises comforting plates and a hearty selection of beers. Irish pubs have become somewhat of a staple in America's ever-changing bar scene. With a new club opening up every week in the city, good ol' Irish pubs never seem to lose their popularity and charm. Could it be because we all need a break from the club scene sometimes? Or, is there really something universally treasured about an authentic Irish pub? Terry O'Reilly's and Mick Morgan's, arguably the two best Irish pubs in Greater Boston, graciously offered to help us answer these puzzling questions.

What makes an Irish Pub authentic?

In order to find out what makes an Irish Pub truly authentic, we had to go back to its roots- Ireland of course! After browsing the Internet for hours and interviewing the Owners of O'Reilly's and Mick Morgan's, it seemed that three traits were mentioned across the board- beer selection, atmosphere/music, and food. All "real" Irish pubs must have an extensive beer selection, often supplemented with local brews for their customers. The atmosphere must be friendly and inviting, most commonly accompanied by some wholesome music. And don't forget about the food menu! Stick to your rib dishes must be present, with the more authentic pubs featuring traditional English dishes (fish and chips, etc).

Beer Selection

When you first step into an Irish Pub, you will most likely see the word GUINNESS plastered all over the walls. Simply put, if you step into a pub that does not serve Guinness, it cannot be classified as a true Irish pub by any means. However, apart from Guinness, all pubs must also have a great alternate beer selection. Warren O'Reilly, Owner of Terry O'Reilly's in Newton, shared all of the great beer he has on tap for his patrons.

"We have a special place in our hearts for Samuel Adams that was discovered and first brewed in Newton. We carry all their seasonal offerings and some of their hidden gems too, and we just tapped their Holiday Porter. We also have Local Brews from Jack's Abby, Cambridge Brewing & Alagash just up the road in Maine."

Not only that, but Terry's has their own house red that is made for them exclusively. The mild taste of this red lager helps it go down smoothly so you can really enjoy the taste. Of course, they haven't forgotten about the shining Guinness. Experts visit the pub regularly to ensure the taste is always high quality. Recently, they installed a Gas System especially for the Guinness to ensure its authenticity to a Pint back in Ireland. This attention to detail is praised by their customers and comes through in the taste of each beer.

Fred Huntington, Owner of Mick Morgan's Pub in Newton, also explained the importance of offering authentic beer choices at his location. One of their most popular beers, Smithwick's Ale, happens to be one of Ireland's oldest ales. Mick Morgan's prides itself on carrying beers such as these and similar selections that will remind customers of old Ireland.

Welcoming Atmosphere: Say Hello to your Neighbor!

Perhaps the most important trait that defines a true Irish Pub is a warm and inviting atmosphere. In fact, walking into a pub in Ireland might feel like you are stepping into a family party. Often times, the bartender is seen talking out life decisions with a couple people at the bar, while some close friends gather in the corner for Sunday Dinner. Fred of Mick Morgan's explains further how the atmosphere of an Irish Pub differs from that of a local bar.

"The difference between a local bar and a true pub is that an Irish pub has a great, warm, inviting feeling to it. At our pub we have a little bit for everyone, making it a much more inviting and comfortable place for everyone, where as most locals and hangouts cater to a specific clientele."

Customers at Mick Morgan's and O'Reilly's are encouraged to converse with one another and get to know your neighbor. The Owners of each location try to familiarize themselves with the community and learn the names of the majority of people that walk inside.

Another important part of the atmosphere is of course, the live entertainment. The music should be intimate and collective, welcoming others to sing along or dance at their leisure. A great example of this is Terry O'Reilly's "Newton Open Jam" held each Wednesday night. Touring acts and neighborhood musicians alike are welcome to "jam" together and make music. You can sign up to sing, play, try slam poetry, or even perform stand up comedy. Mick Morgan's has a similar event every Wednesday and Thursday night, inviting locals or well-known artists to participate in live acoustic music. Encouraging locals to get involved and perform for others is exactly what a pub should be.

An Irish Pub should feel like your local living room. It is a place where you can come to hear the news about town and engage in some type of stimulating conversation. There is no judgment, no snobbery, and no discrimination. In a world where we are judged for perhaps everything we do, the atmosphere of a pub can be a place of serenity for some.

Food: Comfort Style Dishes with an English Flare!

Of course no Irish Pub is complete without a full menu of hearty, scrumptious dishes to pair with a cold glass of Guinness. Both pubs of Newton are definitely not slacking in the food category. With selections like bangers and mash and shepherd's pie, visitors are sure to leave with a full stomach. Modern pub fusions found in Ireland are also present at these pubs, with popular dishes like chicken curry and curry fries. Don't forget about the fish and chips! Both Owners say that this dish remains one of their most popular to this day.

With a strong Irish background and continuing presence, Boston will always be known as a city full of varying types of Irish pubs. However, there are only a select few that are able to fulfill all of these traits, and keep neighbors coming back for years. Terry O'Reilly's and Mick Morgan's are definitely two of Boston's hidden Irish gems. With an extensive selection of beer, an equally delicious food menu, and a vibrant entertainment scene, these pubs have "Irish and Proud" written all over them!

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