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What's A 'Shebeen?' Head To This Bridgeport Pub & Find Out

Michael Brennan
Michael Brennan Photo Credit: Submitted
Daniel E. Brennan in front of his bar in PA.
Daniel E. Brennan in front of his bar in PA. Photo Credit: Submitted

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. --  The people -- both the staff and the customers -- at Brennan's Shebeen Irish Bar & Grill help make this Bridgeport pub successful seven years and counting (it will celebrate it's eighth anniversary in March 2018).

"When we were planning the pub, we knew a ‘shebeen’ is what we really wanted to convey," explained Owner Michael Brennan. "Shebeen is the Gaelic name for an informal gathering place for friends; a speakeasy sort of place where locals talk about sports, politics and everything that’s going on.

"We think we've accomplished that and that’s because of everyone that enjoys spending time here."

It helps that there is also not-your-typical pub grub (think a seasonally updated menu), late kitchen hours (Thursdays to Saturdays until 11 p.m.) and lots of events.

Live music, karaoke and trivia nights, in fact, help add to that aforementioned community vibe. "Whether someone comes in solo to join an already-established group [at our Wednesday Trivia Night] or a group comes in ready to play, all are welcome," said Brennan.

There are also special themed events throughout the year, like Guinness pint engraving.

Plus, there's free live music every weekend from an assortment of neighborhood musicians as well as those from surrounding areas.

Brennan, who works in real estate, said he's always been committed to the area. Plus, he takes pride in the fact that his family has a long history in both the bar business and the bar (law) business.

He likes to tell the story of his great-great-grandfather, Daniel E. Brennan, who came from Strogue, Castleiney, County Tipperary, Ireland to America around 1861 and landed in Shenandoah, PA, finding work building the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He eventually got into the hospitality business and owned three breweries, a distillery and a hotel and bar in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, one of his son’s, also named Daniel, attended Dickinson Law in Carlisle, PA, where he met his future wife, Mary Susan Hemminger. The young Daniel thought her such a fine lady, that he didn't think he could bring her back to rough and tumble Shenandoah.

"Family legend has it that he blindfolded her, and had her stick a pin in a map. It landed on Bridgeport," said Brennan.

Daniel practiced law from 1911 to 1947 in Bridgeport but at the time the rest of his family stayed behind in Shenandoah. When Prohibition came, his brothers continued to operate the bar in Pennsylvania and became bootleggers. However, there was a family rule  -- they could not sell in Connecticut.

Said Brennan: "They would do nothing to interfere with their brother Daniel’s legal career but we think they’d all be happy with the way things turned out today."

Brennan’s Shebeen Irish Bar & Grill is at 2652 Fairfield Ave., 203-870-9981, www.BrennansShebeen.com .

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