When owner Mark Kirwan describes his Irish pub coming to The Wharf, he says, “I put my name on it so you know I believe in it. This is a real Irish feeling, not a Disneyland Ireland experience.” And that holds true, down to the pictures on the walls of Kirwan and his family.
Kirwan’s Irish Pub is anything but a bar-in-a-box. The interior décor was handmade in Ireland, shipped over in four shipping containers via the Baltimore harbor, and installed by Irish carpenters. The blend of salvaged and new wood mixed with the Irish floor tiles and light fixtures gives this pub a truly Irish feel.
A slight nautical theme throughout the bar pays homage to Southwest. That nod comes thanks to all the time Kirwan spent at the Library of Congress researching the Irish and Scottish coming to the Southwest waterfront when it was a trading port and home to many of the city’s poorest, long before the Urban Renewal of the 1960s.
It has been a long time coming, says Navy Yard resident Kirwan, who was the first tenant to sign a letter of intent with The Wharf six years ago. The Irish gastropub was awarded an excellent location at 749 Wharf St. SW at the corner of Pearl St.
The pub will include two patios along the water on either side of Wharf St. The three bars inside the restaurant will serve traditional Irish food with a twist. The combination of prime steaks and in-house ground burgers mixed with fish and chips will offer patrons the option of either a quality sit-down meal or a quick bite to eat. The menu will “strongly emphasize local foods,” Kirwan says.
The downstairs bar will compete with the upstairs bar with open views of the Channel, and will even feature three fireplaces. Be sure not to overlook the whiskey bar in the back of the restaurant, which will offer many Irish favorites that are not easy to come by in the District.
Kirwan’s is poised to be the prime waterfront meeting location for Southwest neighbors. “We want to be the neighborhood bar. We want Bob who lives on Gangplank Marina.” While the pub works out the final steps, Kirwan expects to have live music more than half the week as well as happy hour specials. One thing for sure is that the pub will aim to be “the rugby bar in the District,” says the former high school rugby coach. Rugby or not, visitors to Kirwan’s are sure to get a true Irish experience.