From humble beginnings to Mayor Watson’s proclamation of “Heart & Crown Day” in Ottawa, how the Irish pub celebrates the quarter-century mark with customers aged 19 to 90.
If you’ve ever visited the ByWard Market, you’re probably no stranger to the Heart & Crown Irish Pub. Established by two Irish immigrants, Larry Bradley and Pat Kelly, the pub gets its subtle charm from a not-so-subtle commitment to its roots. From the “snug rooms” to the the floor tile, to the bars made of Irish wood, there’s a clear intent on preserving the spirit and culture for anyone who has been to or yet to visit Ireland.
But the Heart & Crown wasn’t always the roaring five-pub, six-patio “Irish Village” it is today. Starting out at its current Clarence Street location as a mere 50-seater in 1992 (shout out to Bagel Bagel), the Irish community flocked to the watering hole for cold pints, live music and a wee bit of craic. In 1997, the pub doubled in size, and again in 2001, before bringing the Aulde Dubliner & Pour House into the fold.
Despite its growth, the pub remains loyal to its heritage as well as the community that has supported it through two and half decades. In 2016, they began hosting an annual Irish luncheon, featuring live music, a silent auction, and raffles to raise proceeds for the Bruyère Foundation here in Ottawa, and The Tara Centre in Larry’s hometown of Omagh, Co. Tyrone.
This week the pub celebrated its 25th anniversary by hosting a private party for 500 of its dearest friends and family, complete with champagne, oysters, a red carpet and pergola over its terrace. The pub even tracked down, upcycled, and remounted its original sign which it had inherited from an Italian restaurant way back in 1992 (shout out to Humble Barn).
While Mayor Jim Watson proclaimed June 6, 2017 to be Heart & Crown Day in Ottawa, the Heart won’t reminisce for too long as it continues to adapt to its customer-base. Kristen Bradley, Promotions and Marketing Manager, explains that though the pub markets to a new generation of patrons, a strategy that includes a refreshed cocktail list, various music nights, and one of the baddest Instagrams in the game, it doesn’t plan to stray from the authenticity that has made the Irish pub an Ottawa institution.
“We meet people aged 19, 90, and everything in between” says Michael Bradley, Special Projects Manager.
Beside the photo booth, live music, and fact that the sun came out just in time, guests at the 25th anniversary party were also handed their own claddagh—a traditional Irish ring which represents love (the heart), loyalty (the crown), and friendship (the clasping hands)—as a thank you for being part of the Heart & Crown story.
The fun doesn’t stop there as the pub is marking the milestone by collecting and publishing short stories from its patrons, and giving them a chance to win a trip to Ireland. So whether you’re a regular who stops by for soccer and rugby matches, or just recently had an epic night and lived to tell the tale, this is your chance to share. Until then, raise a Guinness to one of Ottawa’s favorite Irish owned, family-run watering holes.