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Celebrating the Irish

St. Patrick’s Day was this week, and with so many local businesses still suffering from the pandemic, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to highlight the delicious local Irish restaurants in the Portland area. Nearly a fifth of Maine’s population is Irish, primarily due to the influx of Irish immigrants who came here in the mid-1800s after Ireland’s infamous potato famine. The Irish immigrated here during a time of economic and social change in our country and played an integral part in shaping our state. Cheers to the Irish!

O’Reilly’s Cure, Scarborough

Patrick and Sue O’Reilly’s name could not be more Irish, but Sue is actually Korean American. She met her to-be husband while studying at New York University and afterward moved with Patrick to his hometown of Scarborough, Maine. After their years in New York, where the food options are practically endless, they felt as though Scarborough needed a new addition to its restaurant scene. Together they opened O’Reilly’s Cure, which celebrates both of their heritage by creating an eclectic menu offering American, Irish, and Korean fare.

Seeing bibimbap (aka Korean rice bowl) next to the Guinness beef stew on the menu illustrates how diverse the options are. Some of the favorites on the menu are the Irish bangers and mash, bao buns, and the cottage pie.

Liam Maguire’s Irish Pub, Falmouth

This Irish pub is owned by Liam and Deborah Maguire and has been a staple of their Falmouth community since 1994. Liam is a professional entertainer and has traveled all over Europe, Canada, and the United States. Before COVID, this restaurant’s stage played host to many live music events. Due to state mandates, these events have been paused, but Liam and Deborah are eager to welcome local musicians back to the limelight once it is safe to do so.

The menu at Liam Maguire’s features many classic dishes with a uniquely Irish spin to them. Their egg rolls are stuffed with corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, and their poutine is topped with Gaelic sauce instead of the traditional beef gravy. The Dublin burger is piled high with Irish bacon. If you’re wondering what Irish bacon is, it’s a thick cut of meat from the back of the pig, which is generally much tastier and fattier.

Bull Feeny’s, Portland

Bull Feeney’s is the pinnacle of everything Irish in Portland. John A. Feeney was born in Galway, Ireland, and immigrated to Portland in 1878. After initially opening a grocery store, Feeney then opened a series of saloons. Irish immigrants would gather in these saloons, and Feeney would spend his time helping them settle into America, find jobs, and register as citizens. His son, John M. Feeney, earned himself the nickname “Bull” while playing football in college and later went on to gain fame in Hollywood. Giving us the current name, Bull Feeney’s.

The brick walls, coupled with the stone floors and vintage decor, will make you feel as though you are dining on the Emerald Green Isle. They serve brunch, lunch, and dinner, and they have a wide variety of beer and whiskey. Some of the more notable dishes on their menu are the corned beef benedict, Irish nachos, and their lobster dishes.

-Written by Stacy Oswald & Photo by Cole Keister