New York’s famed Irish pub Paddy Reilly’s will carry on after March 31 thanks to new leaseholders who plan on sprucing up its Second Avenue and 29th Street location and continuing its tradition of showcasing live Irish music. 

Whether the bar will continue to be called Paddy Reilly’s, however, is still to be determined. The new leaseholders as of April 1, Desi Murray and Joshua Irwin, told a meeting of New York’s Community Board 6 last week that if the name isn’t Paddy Reilly’s, it “will be something very recognizably similar.”  

As the Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral, reported last month, Paddy Reilly’s was set to shut its doors for good at the end of March after 36 years in operation. Steve Duggan, who opened the location with Irish balladeer Paddy Reilly, said the lease wasn’t being renewed and that he planned to celebrate the last days of his bar with a St. Patrick’s Day party every night in March. 

On January 26, Murray and Irwin appeared via Zoom before the Manhattan Community Board 6 Business Affairs and Licensing Committee which reviews applications for liquor licenses granted by the New York State Liquor Authority. The approval was granted unanimously.

Murray, a native of Donegal, has managed Paddy Reilly’s for the past two years. Prior to that, he was a manager of the Joshua Tree on Third Avenue for several years. Irwin is an attorney who owns his own practice and lives a block away from Paddy Reilly’s. 

Irwin told members of the committee that he and his wife, who will handle marketing for the new business, “love the place. We’ve been going there for years.” They were “floored,” when they heard it was due to close next month, and “when we had the opportunity to swoop in, we did.”

The plans Murray and Irwin have for Paddy Reilly’s going forward will stay true to what has worked so well for the past 36 years, they stressed. Live music will continue to be a staple, lite food choices will be available, and the operating hours will remain 11 am until 4 am. They have hired a contractor who will paint, do minor restorations, and “change almost nothing,” Irwin stated. 

“It doesn’t need a gut demolition. It needs a hug,” he added. 

When asked by a committee member if the name Paddy Reilly’s will remain, Irwin said, “We are working on that. That is our intention.” He added that the Paddy Reilly, the balladeer who the pub is named after, has never “enforced” a trademark over the rights to his name.

Duggan, a native of Co. Cavan and a well-known figure in New York’s Irish music and pub scene, told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that he is “very happy and delighted” that 519 Second Avenue would continue as an Irish music bar after his lease ends on March 31. He said he would be meeting with Murray and Irwin to “iron out” some outstanding issues in the next few days. 

Under Duggan’s stewardship, Paddy Reilly’s became the go-to pub for live Irish music and one of the best pints of Guinness in New York. Notables such as Jimmy Fallon, Christy Turlington, and Brad Pitt have walked through its doors, and the bar was a launching pad for many Irish bands such as Black 47. 

“This is one of my favorite places to come hang and one of the best Guinnesses in the city,” Fallon said on a 2019 broadcast of his late-night chat show which he filmed in Paddy’s with UFC star Conor McGregor. 

“Of course, I’m saddened,” Duggan told the Irish Voice last month when discussing the closure of Paddy Reilly’s. “But I’ve been there for 36 years and I got a good run for my money. I used to own the building, but then I sold it and leased Paddy Reilly’s from the new owners. It’s really been an incredible time.”

For his last month as leaseholder, Duggan said he “absolutely” plans to hold St. Patrick’s Day parties every night of the 31 days in March. 

The committee members who Murray and Irwin spoke with last week were pleased that the business would continue as a neighborhood favorite. 

“Thanks for keeping the Paddy’s spirit alive,” member Kevin O’Keefe said. 

*This column first appeared in the February 1 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.