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Finding Minnesota: A Bit O’ Ireland At O’Donovan’s

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Now that it’s March, you’re going to start seeing a lot green. St. Patrick’s Day is in less than two weeks and this year, it falls on a Saturday. That means the Irish pubs around the state will be packed.

On any given night, you’ll find a friendly face and freshly-poured pint of Guinness at O’Donovan’s Irish Pub.

It’s on 1st Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, right next to the Target Center. The owner, Dermot Cowley is a proud Irishman who loves to talk about his homeland.

“The most common thing I hear from people who have gone to visit is how friendly everybody is. People go out of their way to make people feel welcome and special,” he said. “I think ultimately that is the most important thing that people get from there.”

When Cowley bought this place 12 years ago, he became the owner of some real treasures that the original owner imported.

Most of the woodwork you see inside the bar was built in Ireland, and then shipped to Minnesota where it was re-assembled. That goes for the stained glass windows, as well.

“They customized it, built it to this space here, all shipped in along with tables, chairs, bar stools, the stage, pretty much everything you see,” Cowley said.

Even the ceiling came from Ireland.

“Yes, it’s a tin roof ceiling, put in. It’s gorgeous. We get so many compliments on it. This one I believe did come out of an old pub,” he said.

Cowley said the nooks and crannies where people huddle together to chat are deliberate. They are key features of pubs in Ireland.

“It would be the social gathering spot for everybody in town. On a Friday evening, you would have grandma, grandpa sitting up by the fireplace having a nightcap, mom and dad with some friends, having dinner, and then the 18-19 year olds (’cause you can drink at 18) in the back room listening to a band play,” he said.

And now in downtown Minneapolis, Cowley has brought to life that same atmosphere.

O’Donovan’s has live music every weekend — all kinds, not just Irish. And Cowley is about to open another Irish pub next week, in Blaine. It’s called JJ Murphy’s and it opens on March 12.

If you want more to know more about O’Donovan’s, just go to their website.

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