Family-owned pub gets new ownership, name
by BRIAN NADIG
For 60 years the same family owned and operated an Irish pub-style tavern at 5522 N. Elston Ave., and its new owner hopes to carry on the tradition while making a few changes.
Murray’s Tavern became the Corrib Pub three months ago after John McDonagh purchased the property from the Murray family and renamed the establishment after a lake where he has a second home in Ireland.
"Not a mark on their (liquor) license in 60 years," McDonagh said. "That is a story in itself."
Edna Murray, who opened the tavern with her husband Mike, is 98 years old, McDonagh said.
Before the 84-year-old, two-story frame building became a tavern, it was a general store and a butcher shop, McDonagh said. Much of the woodwork, a cooler and a stove from the day that the tavern opened remain in the building, which has second-floor apartments.
McDonagh said that one of his goals is to restore the tavern’s reputation for presenting musicians. He said that about 30 years ago Murray’s was known as a "mecca" for music, and that Irish bands such as Listowel, whose drummer still stores his drums in the tavern’s basement, drew large crowds.
A variety of Irish, country and other type bands have performed at the tavern in recent weeks, and it has held "open mic" nights, McDonagh said. The tavern can accommodate about 60 people.
McDonagh, who is first visited Murray’s when he moved to the area in the early 1990s, said that he plans to apply for an outdoor patio license for the back yard and to make some interior improvements but that the pub’s old-time charm will remain. "Everything in here is original," he said.