Clancy’s Irish Pub: The Legacy Lives On – Inaugural Celtic Festival
August 26 and 27
By Lisa Switzer
When Jeff Hurlburt and his partners bought Clancy’s Irish Pub, he had no idea where the venture would lead him. Clancy’s, now the oldest and longest running Irish Pub in Colorado, was founded in Wheat Ridge in 1973 by Bob Murray. In July 2010, after much discussion and his partners at the time decided to purchase the venue and they opened in October of that year. For Jeff, who grew up in Wheat Ridge and has been in the restaurant business his whole career, buying an Irish Pub was a bit daunting. He didn’t know much about Irish culture and wasn’t sure what he could bring to the table, but when he told his mother what was he was up to, she said, “Well that’s perfect since your great, great grandmother emigrated from Ireland,” something Jeff hadn’t known.
When Jeff and his partners took over Clancy’s at its original location, it had been closed for eight months due to a fire. The first year trying to connect with the original customers was challenging; they tried to focus on good food and service, but Jeff felt there was something missing.
Then Ernie Perry, an Irish session musician, approached him about hosting a session on the west side. Jeff liked that idea because he felt it would bring cultural authenticity, something that had been lost over the years. At that point, Jeff made a commitment to intentionally honor Bob Murray’s original mission of being a “local Irish pub.” Before they closed on Kipling, Tuesday nights, when they hosted the session, were one of the busiest nights of the week.
In 2009, they had to find a new venue due to city renovations taking place at 38th and Kipling. Right at that time, the current location went on the market and Jeff and his partners, Steve Zielinski, Joe DeMott and Tony Facinilli, decided it was the perfect home for Clancy’s. “What is cool about this version of Clancy’s,” Jeff says, “Is that it allows us to host live music and exposes us to a wider audience and to be taken more seriously.”
He wants Clancy’s to be seen as a traditional Irish pub: a communal place that is home to graduations, meetings, holiday parties, etc. and encourages people, especially with Celtic connections, to feel like it is home. This August 26 and 27 Clancy’s will make many Celtic connections hosting its first Celtic festival. Jeff had been approached before about hosting a festival and he didn’t feel they were ready. But when Phil Coombs, a local musician and participant in the Tuesday night sessions, approached him to host one in August, the time was right.
What excites him most about the upcoming festival? “I’m excited to be bringing an Irish cultural event to Wheat Ridge, and I am excited to meet people who promote and participate in Irish culture every day. This is still a learning experience for me as I get to know more and more about my own heritage. I think Bob Murray would be proud to see that the legacy he started still continues.”
There has already been a great deal of support for the event in August, and Jeff says he is honored that people are willing to support Clancy’s, which he hopes will be seen as a center for the Irish/Celtic community. With the First Annual Clancy’s Celtic Festival, they may well be on their way.