“There’s an old saying: God made whiskey to prevent the Irish from ruining the world,” jokes Eddie McAteer, Irishman and owner of the new Tica Irlanda Irish Pub in downtown San José.
“You can’t get Irish whiskey here in the stores,” he adds, “but I’ve got it – Jameson.”
McAteer speaks with pride of his Irish heritage, Irish history and the value of a good Irish pub.
“San José needs an Irish bar,” he says. “It’s different because the main concept is the art of conversation. In Ireland the pub is a place to go to have a chat, a place where people go when they’re happy, and when they’re sad.”
With wood floors, tables and chairs, a warm glow coming from the cherry-colored bar and portraits of important Irish lads hanging behind the bar and above the bottles of whiskey, Baileys and such, the pub does have an Irish feel. Red and black accents are found throughout, manifesting McAteer’s devotion to his home-county Gaelic soccer team, CountyDown, in Northern Ireland.
McAteer left Ireland in 1987 in search of work, and made for the U.S. city of Boston, where his grandmother and aunt live. After staying there four years, he headed to Chicago, where he spent the next 15 years and ran a pub for six.
Like many foreigners residing here, McAteer came to Costa Rica on vacation and decided to move here.
“I came to Costa Rica because I needed a change in lifestyle – to slow down a bit,” he says. “The United States was getting too fast for me. I needed a change of scenery, a change of lifestyle and a change of weather.”
Though far from the Emerald Isle’s shores, McAteer remains very Irish, happily explaining the origins of Saint Patrick’s Day to those not versed in Irish lore.
“Saint Patty is the patron saint of Ireland; he brought Christianity to the pagans in Ireland,” he explains. “He’s famous for chasing the snakes out, and I guess the snakes represent paganism. Saint Patty’s Day is celebrated all over the world because Ireland is one of the biggest populations of people that emigrated to all parts of the world.”
Today is McAteer’s first Saint Patrick’s Day in Costa Rica, and he plans to celebrate it with a bang: the grand opening of his Tica Irlanda Irish Pub.
Doors are set to open at 11 a.m. McAteer, who’s been singing and playing guitar in bars for 25 years, says he will be playing acoustic guitar and singing Irish favorites from 4-6 p.m., followed by his old pal and fellow Irishman Mike Looby, performing from 8-10 p.m. After 10 p.m., things will kick into fullon dance party with music from the ’80s and ’90s playing all night until 6 a.m., according to McAteer.
Specials will include two Baileys or two Guinness for ¢2,500 ($5) and an all-day hamburger special for ¢1,500 ($3).McAteer describes the fare as regular pub food: fish and chips (¢1,500/$3), Buffalo wings (¢1800/$3.60), onion rings (¢1,200/$2.40), Caesar or mixed salad (¢1,800-2,500/$3.60-5) and dinner options such as chicken breast (¢2,850/$5.70) and tenderloin (¢3,200/$6.40).
Jameson, Guinness and Baileys are staples at the pub, and McAteer says he will be playing the guitar and singing every Friday and Saturday night starting at 8 p.m.
Tica Irlanda Irish Pub is on Avenida 1 between Calles 5 and 7. For information, call McAteer at 879-2598.