PHOTOS: O’Donoghue’s Bar and Grill: A blend of traditional Irish atmosphere, food, drink, music and celebration

Your hosts at the brand-new O’Donoghue’s Bar and Grill, Peter and Helen O’Donaghy, are really Irish, and they’ve created an Irish restaurant and pub in the Irish tradition of blending atmosphere, food, drink and celebration.

Festivities kicked off at 3 p.m., as traditional Celtic melodies, played by Dan Hegarty of Marco Island, greeted guests.

Tom and Bonnie Draper, of Marco Island were having lots of fun seeing their friends at O’Donoghue’s grand opening.

“Now, we’ll never have to go across the bridge; everything’s here now,” said Draper. “It’s wonderful to see locals turning out for locals.”

On tap for O’Donoghue’s grand opening were Guinness, Smithwick’s, Harp and Killian’s.

Chef Larry Seaton and assistant chef Alicia Aleandares, served traditional, authentic Irish fare from behind the $15.95 all-you-could-eat buffet.

Traditional Irish cooking is the food and drink of celebration, in a culture that begins in prehistory, with a way of life based on hunting and revering the spirits of animals. It has carried through time, and is concerned not just with recipes, but also with the contexts of celebrated traditions they accompany: music, verse and stories.

“This is a classic Irish menu,” said Seaton. “Very few cuisines use potatoes in so many ways. We are serving shepherd’s pie, Irish stew, colcannon, and corned beef and cabbage.”

Ancient Celtic feasts were centered around the cauldron and roasting spit, and the feast itself celebrated the warfaring nature of society. In rituals of the time, Celts ate while sitting on animal hides, beside blazing hearths.

Iron-age Ireland knew about cabbage before the rest of Europe, and the Irish were among the first to recognize that potatoes could keep a nation from starving.

Folkloric Irish cooking includes shepherd’s pie, a hearty, satisfying dish that’s easy to prepare, and can be used as a buffet or party entrée.

Islanders Russ Garwood and Tawnie Nelson came to O’Donoghue’s for the shepherd’s pie.

“I’ve been hearing about it for a month, as they were getting ready to open,” said Nelson. “Now, I get to eat it, and it looks as good as they say it is.”

Colcannon, an Irish dish of boiled potatoes and cabbage, flavored with onions or leeks and cream or butter, was considered a delicacy, and was introduced to American cuisine when Irish immigrants came to the United States.

Irish stew is another celebrated Irish dish, originally made from mutton chops, potatoes, onions and water. Carrots and turnips were added later. Irish Stew is the product of a culinary tradition that relied on cooking over an open fire.

Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Dinner was corned beef and cabbage, which is basically an American tradition started by Irish-Americans in the mid-1800s.

O’Donoghue’s Bar and Grill promises to deliver premium Irish food, drink, service and music that exceeds their guests’ expectations, and give them the life of Reilly, if only for an evening.

“We came for the grand opening,” said Sam Miloro, of Marco Island. “It’s wonderful to see new restaurants opening on Marco. We keep our fingers crossed, and hope they all make it. This is great.”

O’Donoghue’s lives up to its rich cultural heritage, in which pubs are important meeting places, where people can gather with friends and neighbors in a relaxed atmosphere.

It’s a place where friends will greet you with a toast, cold beverage, and hot meal. A place you’ll be eager to return to time and time again.

IF YOU GO:

O’Donoghue’s Bar & Grill

969 N. Collier Blvd.

Phone: 389-0032

Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Bar open until 2 a.m.

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