Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain is fondly remembered as more than just an Irish pub
Doyle’s Cafe in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston has closed its doors after 137 years and valiant efforts from community members to save the beloved gathering space.
On September 10, Gerry Burke, Jr, the owner of Doyle’s, confirmed with The Boston Globe that the pub was set to close. He also revealed that they were in the process of selling Doyle’s liquor license for a reported $455,000 to an Italian chain restaurant which had plans to open in Boston's Seaport district.
“It’s very sad,’’ Burke told The Boston Globe in September. “I grew up here and I’ve had a wonderful childhood. It’s been my identity for as long as I can remember. It’s a terrible thing and I’m as sad as I can be. But the real estate in JP [Jamaica Plain] is as high as it’s going to get and I can’t afford to stay here anymore.’’
At the time, Burke wasn’t sure how much longer Doyle’s would stay open, but the pub ended up serving its last customers on October 26.
USA Today reported that the closure of Doyle’s Cafe is “the latest in a series of community institutions to buckle under the strain of growth, gentrification and a changing economy that long-time residents fear is eroding the city's identity and authenticity.”
One longtime patron, 57-year-old Lori DeSantis, told USA Today ahead of Doyle's closure: "So many places are getting sold in Boston."
She added: "You know, in Ireland, there's so many neighborhood pubs, and it's like a family thing to go. In Boston, there's only so many left. It won't feel like Jamaica Plain without Doyle's."
Doyle's preservation and politics
Just weeks before Doyle's announced it would have to close its doors, the Irish pub was the focus of a report from NBC10 Boston detailing how it became a place where community members could discuss politics both local and national:
As a Boston Irish pub with political ties, it's no surprise that the Kennedys are well referenced at Doyle's. On St. Patrick's Day 1988, Senator Ted Kennedy was there to help dedicate a new room to his maternal grandfather and former mayor of Boston, John F. Fitzgerald.
Having opened in 1882, the pub has a long and storied history. As such, efforts are now underway in conjunction with the Boston Public Library and Digital Commonwealth to digitize any item that was purchased at the Doyle’s Memorabilia Auction that was hosted on November 6.
An Irish goodbye to Doyle's
Days before it closed, the Boston Police Gaelic Bagpipe Column, which was officially formed at Doyle's in 1992 and played there every St. Patrick's Day, treated patrons to one last performance:
Gaelic column last gig at Doyle’s... where it all began.... Bob FergusonPubliée par Stephanie Zebris Morrison sur Samedi 19 octobre 2019
Of the performance, longtime Doyle's server Rick Berlin told USA Today: “I’ve never seen so many people weep in public except at a funeral. It was like an Irish wake in there.”
On October 27, the day after Doyle’s last call, the pub’s owners shared a message on their Facebook page which read in part: “Although we gave our last last call last night, the spirit and soul of Doyle's is very much still alive and beating. Doyle's will live on through all of us and our memories. Take them with you wherever you end up. We are sad to see this all end, but so grateful to have been a part of it all.
After thanking their “amazing” staff and regulars, Doyle’s signed off with “This is not goodbye, it's see ya later,” adding “Slán go fóill, Sláinte.”
Have you ever visited Doyle's Cafe in Boston? Tell us about it in the comments