Southern Irish

The closest I’ve been to Ireland was watching P.S. I Love You, until I ate at McNamara’s in Nashville, Tenn. The Irish pub is a little off the beaten path but worth the trip. Sean and Paula McNamara opened the restaurant February 2010 and, despite the economic recession, it has grown in popularity. Urbanspoon ranks McNamara’s as Number 3 for Best Casual Dining in the capital city. The authenticity of the food and music make it a local hotspot.

(Photo by Dave Delaney / Creative Commons)

I have never been an avid listener of Irish music, but McNamara has made a convert of me. The husband and wife duo are Irish descendents and have transformed their individual passion for their culture into a living, breathing oasis for Irish lovers in the South. Sean is the great-great grandson of John McNamara, an Irish immigrant from Kildare in 1848. Inspired by his heritage, he has made a living playing Irish music for 15 years throughout Nashville in pubs and festivals. Now he has found a new home for his music in his own restaurant, and there is really no place like home.

His wife, Paula, was born and raised in Northern Ireland and has added the essential touches in food and atmosphere to transform McNamara’s from just another pub to the Irish Pub in Nashville. While my friends and I indulged more in the beer and music than the food selection, a cursory glance over the menu shows plenty of Irish classics to choose from.

he restaurant also has one of the longest lists for whiskeys around town. Our waiter warned one of my friends to be wary of the Feckin Spiced, but did she listen? In the words of our waiter, “It will make your inner beast come out!” Needless to say, anyone eating at McNamara’s must also try the laundry list of liquor options for the authentic Irish experience.

The highlight of the evening and the reason for our trip to McNamara’s was the music. Sean McNamara, David Coe and Josh Culley form a trio playing multiple instruments from accordion, mandolin, flute, guitar and more. Their band is called Nosey Flynn and their music is based from Celtic/Irish influences. Lead singer, McNamara pulls the audience into each song with lyrics that ask the audience to clap or pound their wooden tables for a drumbeat. Between the Irish accent McNamara inflects and the fun lyrics about drunk sailors and whiskey in the jar, the band not only has the diners clapping for more but the waitresses stepdancing to the music.

If you live in Nashville or planning a trip, McNamara’s should be your first planned dining spot. 5 Stars!

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