The Irish Pub is “…nothing less than a slice of New Orleans planted in the middle of a West Virginia city.”
That’s how John De Shazier, senior writer for the Saints website, described the unexpected serendipity of finding fellow Saints fans in Lewisburg.
Irish Pub owners Patrick O’Flaherty and Andrea Izzo lived in New Orleans for 20 years during a time when Patrick and his brother operated O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Pub on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter up until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the city. Katrina didn’t force O’Flaherty’s to close, instead the timing which brought Patrick and Andrea to Lewisburg was purely coincidental. But it proved to be the perfect time for them to open a pub in Lewisburg eight years ago.
“People would tell me, ‘You should open up a pub here,’” Patrick said. “That’s how it happened.”
With that idea proposed, O’Flaherty and Izzo planted the seed, nurtured it and have watched it become what it is today.
“The Irish Pub is as authentically New Orleans as it gets in these parts, as well it should be,” De Shazier writes. He goes on, stating, “The Irish Pub [is] an establishment so heavily New Orleans-themed that you half expect a second line or Mardi Gras parade around the block to erupt at any moment.”
“We just wanted to bring some of that with us,” Andrea said in an interview with De Shazier. “It’s really an Irish pub, with as much New Orleans as we can fit in,” like the famous Louisiana treats and seasonings which line a shelf behind the bar and the red beans and rice featured on the menu. The framed posters that “scream New Orleans” (Fats Domino, Jazzfest) and in the back room with the dart boards, framed front pages from The Times-Picayune newspaper heralding the Saints’ Super Bowl victory.
“And in the restroom, there even is a mirror that was given to the establishment by Finn McCool’s,” says De Shazier.
“Lewisburg, interestingly, has a fair amount of people who are familiar with New Orleans, who have lived there.” Andrea said. “We do a little Mardi Gras celebration every year and it’s packed and everybody dresses up in costumes.” Lewisburg is a lot more like New Orleans than one would think, she added. “People are really friendly and everybody is kind of laid back. The feel of Lewisburg is very much like New Orleans.”
And, yes, a little bit of New Orleans fits nicely inside the city limits of Lewisburg. Especially now that the Saints have come to town.
“I like the Saints,” O’Flaherty said. “We’d go see games every year. The Saints kept New Orleans together after the hurricane was over. Thank God that they stayed in New Orleans.
“It’s sort of like a dream,” Andrea said. “I never would’ve guessed in a million years that the Saints would end up here.”
“Authenticity can plop down, make itself comfortable and thrive in the unlikeliest of places, at the unlikeliest of times,” De Shazier writes. Follow John De Shazier at NewOrleansSaints.com and on FaceBook for more about the New Orleans Saints’ stay in West Virginia while training at The Greenbrier.