Bar backstories: Durty Nelly’s

Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub in Halifax, N.S. was designed and built entirely in Dublin, then shipped across the Atlantic ocean piece-by-piece. Their signs, lights, flooring, chairs, tables — even the painters were sent across the pond. The pub was reconstructed on the corner of Argyle and Sackville streets and opened December 2008.

Joe McGuinness, one of the owners of Durty Nelly’s, said he wanted to create a legendary, authentic experience for his Halifax customers, despite the high costs of shipping. Pubs are an integral part of Irish culture, acting as social centres for friends, families, and often times total strangers. “Pubs are to the Irish what Tim Horton’s is to Canadians.”

They chose their name after one of the most visited pubs in Ireland, Durty Nelly’s in County Clare, which opened in 1640. Hundreds of the customers at the Halifax location have been to the original pub in Ireland.

For McGuinness, it’s not just about the authentic design: “It’s got to be supported by excellent food, beverage and service.” Durty Nelly’s even provides orientation to their workers about Irish culture and the art of the Irish pub.

Durty Nelly’s stuck to their Irish roots, being a central downtown watering hole and serving traditional Irish dishes such as lamb shank, bangers and mash, and Irish stew.

Durty Nelly’s in Halifax is divided into three of the six Irish pub styles:

Victorian: An intimate setting, the Victorian style pubs are more elaborately decorated, with dark polished wood, carved furnishings, mirrors and stained glass.

Shop: A busier setting, shop style pubs nod to the times of the past when shop owners would also be bar keeps. These pubs are decorated with simple wooden tables, oil lamps, cluttered shelves, a wood stove and a piano.

Country: These pubs are designed after the traditional Irish country cottage, with a warm atmosphere, stone floors, colourful ceramic mugs and white-washed walls.

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