By Andrea Durán
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Irish singers and fiddles blast overhead, as if the very walls were singing. The Celtic words for good music, food and drink line the wall facing the bar, just underneath old Irish copper kettles and pots. Bric-a-brac fills every square inch of the walls in the Kent House Irish Pub on 506 York Road in Towson.
The bartenders rush along the bar, talking and laughing as they prepare, pour and serve drinks. The pub’s centerpiece, a 180-year-old a Celtic walking stick called a shileighly, hangs in the center of the bar.
It’s another night closer to St. Patrick’s Day at the only and oldest Irish pub in Towson.
“It’s a ‘Cheers’ bar––everybody knows your name,” Keith Price, a bartender, said as he rushed off to pour a customer his beer from the tap. “It has a really tight-knit, family-type feeling.”
Come St. Patrick’s Day, the pub will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. and filled with patrons who aren’t looking for a rowdy night, but rather good times, good beer, and good conversation.
“The history of the Irish in Baltimore is strong,” said Sean Hackett, the general chairman of the Saint Patrick Parade Committee. “After Boston and New York, Baltimore was the third greatest destination port of the Irish diaspora for people escaping famine, poverty, and religious and ethnic persecution back in Ireland.”
St. Patrick was a fifth-century Roman bishop named Maewyn Succat, who lived in Ireland and was captured by the Irish who he later converted to Christianity, said Dr. John Mitcherling of the An Poitin Stil pub, an Irish pub in Timonium, and former president of the Hibernian Society of Baltimore.
“St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating the philosophies of life of the ‘luck of the Irish,’ which is an integral part of Maryland society,” Mitcherling said. “We brought traditions and philosophies of life that stuck with the community like being steady, hardworking, and dependable.”
For the people who work at Kent House Pub, the notion of tradition is alive and well. On St. Patrick’s Day, people will be able to eat traditional Irish foods like beef, stew, cabbage, potatoes and, of course, fish and chips. Along with food, the pub will be giving out shamrock keychains and necklaces to customers. Bartenders will undoubtedly serve Carbombs and Guinness the most.
“I’ve only seen two margaritas here,” Kerrigan Cesar, 22, and the newest bartender said.
George Georges’ family has owned the pub, originally called Kent Lounge, since 1958. Georges, an American of mostly Greek heritage, gained ownership in 1999 and renamed it as simply “The Kent.” It wasn’t until he was researching to open his other Irish pub, Ryan’s Daughter, in 2005 with an Irish-American friend (which he would later sell), that he began to fall in love with Irish culture.
“I consider myself a publican––the owner of a pub,” Georges said proudly.
Georges realized in 2010 that as Towson became more of a college town, “The Kent” needed to be rebranded again, this time as an Irish pub––the oldest bar and only one of its kind in town.
“There have been times when Irish people have come through those doors and told me this reminded them of home,” Georges said. “It’s the highest compliment I could ever get.”
At Kent House Pub, for people to talk to friends as well as strangers, distractions are set to a decided minimum.
“The pub is all about conversation,” Georges said. “In most bars, you have tons of TVs, in Irish pubs you have none and here we have two.”
It is said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The old expression couldn’t be more accurate than at the pub where one can talk to a stranger, listen to Irish music and drink Guinness from the afternoon until the wee hours of the night.