St. Patrick’s Day is not all about beer and whiskey for this Bangor business

“We start our prep a month before,” said Peter Geaghan when asked how long it takes Geaghan’s Pub in Bangor to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s our biggest day of the year.”

This will be the 39th year that Geaghan’s Pub, now in its third generation of business ownership, has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. I sat down with two generations to talk about what the day means to them and how it has changed over the years.

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Chris Geaghan (from left), Carolyn (Geaghan) Mardosa, Peter Geaghan and Larry Geaghan, circa 1990.

“It’s so much more than beer and whiskey,” said Larry Geaghan, who grew up in the business started by his father in 1975 and now runs it with other family members including brothers Peter and Pat. “Today it’s more about family and community. Back in the day it was a lot rowdier.”

“Although the pub will be packed, it’s a lot more family-friendly these days,” he said, describing how family members return year after year to celebrate their Irish heritage.

“I can tell you who will be here, what time they will get here, who they will be coming to see, how long they will stay and what they will eat,” said Larry.

“Over the years we’ve given away T-shirts to our customers on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Larry. “Now they come in wearing the shirt we gave their mother when she brought them here as a kid. Now they are coming in with their kids.”

The Geaghan brothers recalled some great memories from St. Patrick’s Days gone by. There was the year a young mother was standing in the lobby holding her toddler son, who found something of interest on the wall and pulled it. It was the fire alarm.

“It was about 6:30 at night and we were packed, elbow to elbow,” said Peter. “We had live Irish music playing with the fire alarm going off in the background and no one moved or seemed to notice – it just became part of the entertainment.

“The Fire Department arrived and when we explained what happened, they shut off the alarm.”

They talk about their loyal customers over the years, remembering one in particular who came in St. Patrick’s Day morning to eat.

“The place was already packed,” recalled Peter.

The customer began experiencing pain and distress so they rushed him to the hospital, where tests were performed to rule out anything serious.

“As soon as he received a clean bill of health, he came right back to his seat at the pub as if nothing had happened. He didn’t want to miss a moment,” recalled Larry.

Andrew Geaghan represents the third generation in the business and has led an expansion into the microbrew business under the name Geaghan Bros. Brewing.

For Andrew, the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day is “A celebration of our culture and heritage, which is about family, community, giving back and having a positive vision for what’s to come.”

Andrew reflected on the long winter we’ve had.

“St. Patricks Day is a celebration that we made it through and we can now come out of hibernation and celebrate with our family, friends and community,” he said.

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photo courtesy of Larry Geaghan

The community is always a big part of the celebration at Geaghan’s Pub.

“Everyone looks forward to the Anah Temple Pipe and Drum Band when they march through the pub playing Irish music. Sometimes they are joined by kids from the Thomas School of Dance who perform an Irish jig,” said Larry.

They expect about 700 people to come through over the course of the day. Food makes up 75 percent of the pub’s business on St. Patrick’s Day, according to Peter.

“We’ll sell hundreds of pounds of corned beef that we buy locally and serve hundreds of pounds of our chicken wings,” he said.

“Everything we love about our business and everything we worry most about is cranked right up to 11 on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Andrew. “It’s not about how our sales are that day. It’s about, did it go well and did everyone have a good time celebrating what our Irish heritage is truly about?”

Deb Neuman

About Deb Neuman

Deb thinks Maine is a great place to do business and loves telling the stories of Mainers proving that it can be done! An entrepreneur at heart, she enjoys helping others with the same drive to create and innovate!