Here's How This Legendary Irish Pub in the South End Is Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

J.J. Foley's Café — whose claim to fame is being the city's oldest Irish pub — is gearing up for a big weekend, as St. Patrick's Day celebrations get back to full speed in 2023.

NBC Universal, Inc.

An Irish pub in Boston's South End is ready to celebrate its 114th St. Patrick's Day, as the family-owned business carries on a tradition that has lasted for generations.

"We're Boston's oldest Irish pub," Michael Foley, manager of J.J. Foley's Café said, perched behind the wooden bar. "My great grandfather came over from County Kerry, Ireland, the early 1900s, hustled around, saved some money, and ended up buying this bar."

That was in 1909. Fast forward to 2023, and Foley is running the pub alongside his dad and brothers, with the help of his own kids and nieces.

"It's nice to know that you're continuing something that, from past generations have started," Foley said. "It is really satisfying to work for your own family."

Not a whole lot has changed over the years inside of J.J. Foley's — which is all the more striking in a neighborhood that has seen intense redevelopment recently. Pieces of Boston's past line the walls of the establishment.

"Different names, but you still have the same the same kind of people that still want to go out," Foley said. "They want to hang out with their friends. They want to get something to eat. They want to watch a game... They're not looking for anything fancy, just looking for something good."

While this bar has seen over a century's worth of St. Patrick's Days, this year is expected to be a big one, after a few slower ones during the pandemic.

"I think more people are in here to celebrate because they've missed out the last couple of years," Foley said. "And I think everyone just wants to come into Boston, have a good time."

The pub, which also features a dining room and kitchen, has a special menu for the weekend, including dishes like corned beef and cabbage and a Guinness beer stew.

Foley seemed ready for another year of memories to be made at J.J. Foley's.

"If the walls could talk... would be 100% a best seller," he said "You can have something great to eat, got some great drinks, and you have a good time. That's what we're all about."

Contact Us