By Marielle Songy, Mid-City Messenger
Finn McCool’s Irish Pub on Banks Street is known for its beer, friendly atmosphere, the rugby and soccer games that beam from the bar’s televisions, and its St. Patrick’s Day block party.
However, the bar’s St. Patrick’s Day block party, which has become a neighborhood ritual, won’t be happening for the third year in a row, according to the bar’s management.
Organizing the block party generally starts in January, bar managers said. “At that time there was too much uncertainty on where we would be with everything that’s been happening in the past couple of years,” they said via email. “Also, we weren’t sure if we could get the police officers for that day, being there is a shortage.”
The bar will still celebrate the holiday, even if the block party is officially on hold. Irish fare such as shepherd’s pie, beef stew, ham and cabbage, and Brussels sprouts will be served as well as their wide selection of draft beer and Irish whiskey. Finn McCool’s regular menu includes other favorites such as fish and chips, Scotch eggs and spicy meat pies.
Finn McCool’s opened in 2002 after founders Stephen and Pauline Patterson emigrated from Northern Ireland and settled in New Orleans. The bar was the former home to Joe’s 19th Hole, a neighborhood dive bar. When opening Finn’s, the Pattersons’ goal was to combine the feel of a classic Irish pub with the spirit of a New Orleans neighborhood bar.
Finn McCool’s temporarily closed after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mid-City neighborhood. When the bar reopened — on St. Patrick’s Day 2006 — it symbolized hope for the community and the rebuilding effort.
“I’ve gone to Finn’s for about 20 years now, and it’s always had the same cool laid-back vibe,” Finn’s regular Graham Greenleaf said. “I’m there at least once a week, and the staff is always super friendly. [They have] the best pint of Guinness in the city, hands down.”
In 2016, after 14 years in business, the Pattersons sold the bar to Irishman Sean Kennedy and New Orleans native Anthony Macaluso. Sadly, Macaluso died of cancer at 55 on St. Patrick’s Day 2021.
Finn McCool’s is known for its fundraising efforts, in addition to its rousing pub atmosphere. The pub holds an annual head-shaving event for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, raising money for childhood cancer research.
In 2011, when Finn’s regular Rafael Enrique Delgadillo was shot, the bar stepped up and held a fundraiser for his recovery. “They raised close to $3,000,” Delgadillo said. “Back then Pauline and Steve were still the owners and they were very supportive of me during that time. Truly wonderful people.”
“They’ve worked really hard to be not just a neighborhood bar, but to build a community,” a Finn’s fan known simply as Alfredo added. “From the various supporter groups of soccer teams to their charitable events, Finn McCool’s has worked hard to build its place in the community of Mid-City and around New Orleans. It’s a place that’s known globally — and that’s a credit to its various owners and staff.”
Reporter Marielle Songy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.