The Irish sisters and owners of Culhane’s Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach, Florida are both excited and relieved that they will be able to fly the Irish flag over their pub this St. Patrick’s Day after a citation almost forbid them from doing so.
"We love this country and we're proud that we're able to hang both American and Irish," said Mary Jane Culhane, co-owner of Culhane's Irish Pub in Florida
Speaking with Aine Culhane on Wednesday, you could hear the excitement and relief in her voice that her pub, which she owns with her three sisters, will be able to fly the Irish flag for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
However, as Aine explained, the flying of the Irish flag is only temporary as the city of Atlantic Beach will have to take time to review the verbiage under the current legislation.
First Coast News in Florida first broke the story of the Irish pub owners - Aine, Mary Jane, Michelle and Lynda Culhane, all from Limerick - who were given a citation for flying the Irish flag over their business on February 20. A local ordinance rules that no flag besides an American one can fly outside a commercial property.
Last week, Aine Culhane told IrishCentral that a nearby Greek restaurant had been told to take down their national flag due to a local ordinance.
When their Greek neighbors pointed out the Irish pub was also displaying their national flag, the city of Atlantic Beach code officers threatened the Culhane’s with a fine.
Aine said of the citation, “It’s sad. It’s a sign of freedom to fly your flag. It’s a shame. It’s supposed to be a celebration.”
Michelle Culhane added that she was "Shocked.” She went on, “This is America, the land of every nationality. I couldn't believe they made us take down our Irish flag."
The four Culhane sisters vowed to appeal the citation, but were initially told that any revisions to the current ordinance wouldn’t happen until after upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th.
However, to their surprise and delight, an emergency meeting was called on Monday evening to review the ordinance and the matter of flying the tricolor over the pub.
Aine explained on Wednesday that she and her sisters weren’t expecting any of the attention, nevermind an emergency meeting. She attributed the meeting being held so quickly to the fact that the story had gained so much media attention.
Similarly, Aine was thankful of the support Mayor Pro Tem Maria Mark gave the Irish pub. Aine said that Mayor Mark had said that as an Italian-Irish American herself, she would never be able to face Ireland again if she hadn’t stood up for the pub!
Mayor Mark told First Coast News that the media attention “did motivate us to make this motion to suspend that enforcement so they can fly their flag.”
Aine explained how the support was evident at the meeting that was held Monday night. All those, including the four sisters who were attendance, were wearing some bit of green to show support for their cause.
At the meeting, a unanimous decision allowed the Culhane sisters to fly the Irish flag for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend, although it will have to be taken down next week while the verbiage of the ordinance is reviewed.
With the flag fiasco put behind them, the Culhane sisters can now focus their efforts on what is sure to be one of their busiest weekends of the year, St. Patrick’s Day. Aine said that last year, the pub welcomed some 5,000 people to celebrate, and she has a feeling it could be bigger this year after the story made news headlines.
Check out First Coast News’ video coverage of the story here