This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of World Gaming magazine.
116 C and D Avenida de Kwong Tung, Taipa, Macau
+853 2882 0708
|17:00 to 02:30 (7 days)
The Stallion recently trotted down to the Irish Bar in Taipa, Macau to catch up with his old Paddy mate Glenn McCartney PhD at his Irish pub aptly named the “Irish Bar”.
The Americans and the Australians have done their very best to destroy the image of the good Irish bar. Contrary to their opinion, a couple of trinkets hanging off the wall and a few tattered Guinness bar mats do not qualify a pub as having an authentic Irish theme. I have a checklist of true Irish pub indicators, most of which must be ticked off before I would even consider going there.
A true Irish pub must have:
- an actual Irishman owning and running it
- quality Guinness on tap and staff that know how to correctly pour it
- a healthy range of other Irish, local and international beers
- a commitment to covering televised sport
- some traditional Irish food to soak up the beer – pies and stews are a good start
- decent music that doesn’t blow your head off
- independence – not being part of a chain of bars
- no tacky wall hangings that have nothing to do with the owner or patrons, hung in a vain attempt to mask the inability to satisfy the above requirements
The Irish Bar thankfully ticks all of the boxes. Glenn came to Macau in 1996 with expertise in the gaming and hospitality industry:
When I first got to Macau I was walking around constantly trying to find my kind of bar. There were plenty of Portuguese and Chinese style establishments but nothing for a young Paddy like me. I wanted a place where you could have good craic [an Irish word for good conversation and a laugh].
He still has his fingers in many pies including a position at the University of Macau as Assistant Professor of Gaming and Hospitality Management. Glenn also works as a freelance gaming consultant, but there is little doubt his first love is the Irish Bar.
Glenn and a mate pooled together what little money they had, and first opened the Irish Bar in 1998 in the front section of two noodle shops. The noodle shops are long gone but the pub is thriving and is now Glenn’s baby.
I found a local carpenter and I told him that I wanted to create an Irish pub. He asked me if I had a design. I told him I didn’t, but I knew all about good Irish pubs. After I told him how high the bar had to be and that he had to work around wood finish and green he was good to go from there.
The pub is open to everyone but it naturally attracts Macau’s local ex-pat community: the Irish, British, Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and other Europeans living and working in Macau have always loved this bar. But, you would be amazed to discover that over half the patrons in the bar are Chinese locals. Apparently, they too love Glenn’s Guinness.
The eclectic mix of regulars at the Irish Bar tend to work hard, and play even harder. The gaming industry attracts people who enjoy a quiet beer or three, and while you might walk in as a stranger you will always find someone happy to chat about something. It’s just that kind of bar.
We also like running events. We have done quiz nights, Saint Pat’s days and things like that. The only problem is that most of the events get out of control and get too large for the venue. Football and rugby gets priority for the boys and I like to make sure that I keep my patrons happy.
Being the official party animal of WGM, I test drive a wide range of bars, clubs and pubs. This is the kind of bar where I want to drink and watch sport. I might get a cheap feed while I am at it but when I walk through the door I’m looking for a belly full of beer and a good yarn. The Irish Bar certainly provides that.
Glenn’s right hand man is a lady and she has become as much a part of the bar as Glenn. Mhona Nicomedes, originally from San Juan, Manila, is the oil that keeps the machine running, and whenever Glenn is away she is the go-to person for help. When I asked her how long she had been working at the Irish Bar, with a giggle she replied, “too long”. She has a great laugh and blends perfectly into an environment that goes out of its way to put a smile on your face.
Amongst parties for events such as New Years Eve, Chinese New Year and the Macau Grand Prix, the Irish Bar has regular weekly fixtures such as quiz night on Wednesdays. The bar is also the official pub for the Taipa Macau Hash House Harriers, who generally begin their Hash on Thursdays at 19:30, and the pub enters its own mens and womens teams in the Macau International Dragon Boat Festival each year. I’ll leave the last few words to Glenn:
Our menu hasn’t changed for 10 years and it isn’t going to! I incorporate the taxes and service charges into my prices, as having to pay extra for those is something I hate as a customer. We have a great two-for-one happy-hour daily from five to eight, and on the last Thursday of each month we have a “Macau after work” promo where you drink on me from 6:30 to 8:30pm. People ask me when I am going to sell the place. Well, I have a sign in the pub saying that I want to be buried under the pub so I suppose that’s when it might go on the market.
IRISH BAR GOLDEN RULE
“We ask that people don’t throw cigarette ends on the floor as this burns the knees and hands of the people trying to make it to the toilets…”