Walking into Paddy Reilly's bar on a Thursday evening in 1988, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a watering hole in Ireland, instead, this popular Irish bar was located in the heart of New York City. 

Paddy Reilly's, on the corner of 28th and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, was featured in a St. Patrick's Day special on the RTÉ program "Evening Extra" with presenter Shay Healy in 1988.

The New York Irish pub’s Thursday night traditional music sessions were very popular with Irish ex-pats, who tell Healy how much culture and tradition mean to you when you emigrate.

"It gave me something I missed from home," one attendee told Healy. 

"It has good sessions here, the craic is good and you meet a lot of people...It's good fun but I think they're also hanging on to their own traditions, and hanging on to what Ireland means to them because when you come away from home your traditions mean a lot."

In the 1988 segment, Healy talked to the bar’s manager, Stevie Duggan, a well-known Gaelic footballer who had been in New York for four and a half years. The traditional music sessions were his idea, as he had some very good musician friends from Co Kerry and Co Mayo. 

They started three months prior, and had “become one of the best seisiúns in the United States."

Duggan explained that they advertised the sessions in The Irish Echo and Irish Voice (IrishCentral's sister publication) newspapers, and that they had gotten visitors from all over New York arriving at the pub on a Thursday night.

"People realize here [in New York] that they're mixed with so many different cultures that their own culture becomes prominent in their own minds and then they grasp on to the Irish music... they realize that this is our identity," said one young Irish man. 

* Originally published in 2022, updated in Aug 2023.