Mar 05, 2019

Exploring Irish Heritage in New Jersey

By Lori Draz

Dublin House Red Bank nj

This month, Historic Havens celebrates the Irish hearts that beat so strong in our area. The contributions made by brave Irish immigrants, and the heritage that their efforts continue to make in our daily lives, are immeasurable.

Much Irish history in the United States was preserved in oral traditions and brought to life by great authors and poets of the Emerald Isle. The best way to learn is to pull up a chair and listen, but here are some other ways to explore more of the Irish experience:

What is now the restored Howell Iron Works Company was originally an industrial community that flourished in the first half of the 19th century. Many Irish Catholic immigrants endured great abuse until John Roach came to work for the founder, Mr. Allaire. Roach came from Mitcheltown, County Cork, Ireland, and he was the first to allow the Irish workers to have a day off on St. Patrick’s Day.

On Saturday, March 16 from 11 am to 4 pm, the Village presents an 1830s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at The Historic Village at Allaire. This family-friendly celebration features live Irish music from the Ballycastle Duo, Irish dancing from the Devrin Academy of Irish Dance, corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread cooking demonstrations, green ale tasting (non-alcoholic), and children’s crafts like make-your-own paper shamrock, and help the leprechaun find his gold.

Tickets in advance are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Day-of event pricing is $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 2 to 12; under age 2 are admitted free.

A must-visit for Irish Americans and those curious about their contributions is The American Irish Historical Society in New York City. It was founded in 1897 to inform the world of the achievements of the Irish in America; Teddy Roosevelt was among its members. The society is a national center of scholarship where current public issues are explored and the great renaissance in Irish culture is celebrated in lectures, concerts, art exhibits and a literary journal.

The spectacular building, located across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers an extensive library with rare books and research archives. The richly appointed and elegant rooms in the headquarters can be booked to host private events.

The American Irish Historical Society is hosting “A Book Talk: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America” by John Loughery on March 20, at 6:30 pm. Loughery will lecture on Archbishop ‘Dagger’ John Hughes, the Irish-American organizer, community advocate and outspoken evangelist who founded the Jesuit Catholic Fordham University and demanded the construction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Hughes was a revered (and feared) power broker for his community in Manhattan and beyond.

On Wednesday, March 26 from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, the historical society will host “Distant Ireland – Migrations to the New World.” Fintan Mullan, executive director, and Gillian Hunt, research officer of the Ulster Historical Foundation, will examine how Ireland and America are intimately entwined.

The experts will also show how to trace those elusive Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors. Fintan helped pioneer, the unique database with more than 20 million Irish historical records. Gillian carries out research for clients and is an experienced user of the General Register Office and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The American Irish Historical Society is located at 991 Fifth Ave. in New York City. Tours are available. To learn more, visit

If you are inspired to learn more about Irish authors, Brookdale’s Lifelong Learning Center is offering a five-week course called “The Irish Literary Renaissance.” Irish historian Henry McNally will examine Irish authors Lady Augusta Gregory, William Butler Yeats, John Millington Synge, James Joyce and Sean O’Casey, focusing on their connections to the struggle for independence. The course runs on Tuesdays, March 26 to April 23, from 10 am to noon.

Of course, you’ll need to refresh yourself after all this education and exploration. As was mentioned, the best Irish history lessons are the ones you hear first-hand, so pull up a stool, order some grub and a pint at some of the area’s historic Irish eateries.

The Dublin House Restaurant & Pub is located in a building about 175 years old. The house traveled through several locations and renovations. After the Civil War, circa 1868, the house was remodeled in the Second Empire style popular between 1865 and 1880.

The Dublin House has a loyal following – some might say an unreal following, as the pub and upstairs offices and rooms are rumored to have a number of ghostly residents. Almost everyone there has a story, so ask around and keep your eyes open. The Dublin House Restaurant & Pub is located at 30 Monmouth St. in Red Bank.

Anyone who has gone over the Belmar Bridge has seen Kelly’s Tavern, a family tradition for four generations. In 1949, Ed and Mabel Kelly bought Rudy’s Twin Boro Tavern across the highway from today’s location. After Mr. Kelly’s death, his son, Bill, and his wife, Gerry, joined his mother in the family business.

After outgrowing the original tavern, the Kelly’s of today was built in 1959. A proud Irishman, Mr. Kelly was sure to pay tribute to the family’s rich Irish heritage. The Kelly family traces its roots all the way from County Monaghan and the town of Clones back on “The Old Sod.” During your visit, look for the large, hand-painted ancestral map of Ireland on the ceiling above the oversized bar, and authentic banners and coats of arms imported from Dublin.

Kelly’s Tavern is located at 43 NJ-35 South in Neptune City.