Cead mile failte -- Gaelic for a hundred-thousand welcomes -- is exactly what you feel when you walk into Finnegans Wake, formerly known as OConnells.
The small, cozy pub tucked away on West Congress Street boasts fun and familiarity rather than glitz and glamour. With a dart board in one corner and a jukebox in the other, Finnegans Wake is the definition of the classic neighborhood pub.
Bought by Shelley and Josh Lowther in 2002, OConnells -- formerly owned by its original namesake, Malcolm OConnell -- received a few upgrades from its new owners.
We added a few taps, extended the bar, improved the seating, added live music, and just made it more efficient, says Shelley Lowther. We just put some fresh base on things.
It was OConnells when Malcolm owned it and we left the name when we bought it, explains Lowther. I just decided it was time to put my own stamp on it. I want people to know that ownership hasnt changed, just the name.
Why Finnegans Wake?
Im a James Joyce fan, and Finnegans Wake is one of the best novels to come out of Ireland," says Lowther.
Secondly, Tim Finnegans Wake is probably one of the most recognized Irish-American wake ballads. It combines old Irish heritage with new American life. We wanted to combine Irish heritage with the music, and we think the new name reinforces that.
The pubs clientele seem to have warmed to the change, mostly because nothing else has been altered. Theres still 14 beers on tap, another 40 in bottles, a wide variety of Irish whiskey, and, as Lowther claims, one of the best pints of Guinness in Savannah, served in a proper twenty-ounce glass.
Theres still that Gaelic header above the bar pronouncing, Ta caint saor agus airgead ar visce beatha, meaning The conversation is free, you pay for your whiskey.
I enjoy running this pub because we appeal to a wide variety of people. We get tourists, business folks, students -- you just never know wholl come in, Lowther says.
We have a lot of regulars, people who have come in even before we owned it, and they like that we havent changer the atmosphere. We changed the name to fit the atmosphere, not the other way around.
Whether you go by yourself or with 20 friends youll still have fun and feel at home. The unassuming Finnegans Wake is for those who are just looking for a comfortable atmosphere; for anyone looking for the bar without gimmicks and fuss; for the person just in the mood for a pint at the neighborhood pub.
Were everything that an Irish pub is supposed to be, notes Lowther. You come in and well treat you well and youll have fun in a friendly, warm, comfortable, and affordable atmosphere. We love being part of downtown Savannah, and were going to show that to you.
Finnegans Wake is at 108 W. Congress Street. Call 231-8499, or visit www.finneganswakepub.com for more information.