Tir Na Nog is a grand place to search for your youth again (and again and again)!

Updated: Mar 1



Every few months Pam and I are going to dig a bit deeper into our favorite Irish Pubs; our first venture is with a pub in our hometown (Trenton, New Jersey), where we have made it a tradition to have a pint pulled whenever we return to our roots.







Tir Na Nog

The Tir Na Nog, located at 1324 Hamilton Avenue, was purchased by Todd and Maureen Faulkner on November 21, 2012. Todd was kind enough to let me interview him and share some of their secrets for a 7-year success with this Trenton institution.


Kevin:

Todd, thanks so much for doing this! I’d like to begin with the history of your pub. When did the bar open, and from whom did you purchase it?

Todd:

Thanks, Kevin, it’s my pleasure! The Tir Na Nog (or “The Nog” as it’s affectionately known to the locals) officially opened in 1991 during the week of the St Patrick's Day Parade under the ownership and management of the infamous Billy Briggs.

Billy had formerly owned “Billy’s Place” on Olden Avenue (which, by the way, is now a parking lot!) and found great joy and success in opening an authentic pub to honor his strong Irish roots. Billy passed away in 2008, and we purchased the pub from his widow Margaret.

Kevin:

What made you want to own a pub? Did you ever own or work in a pub or restaurant before?

Todd:

Our “Irish blood” made the choice of an Irish pub a no-brainer. Maureen’s grandfather immigrated from Ireland in the early 1900s, and my family came from Limerick after the Civil War. It was something Maureen and I talked for many years; unfortunately, it took more time than we expected but we’re glad it came down to be the Tir na nog! Although we can’t always work here as a family, we often pop in on the other side of the bar! It’s great because we get to network with the customers while enjoying a libation or two. We also will visit with the kids during our Irish Sessions on Sundays.

Tir Na Nog 's partner Maureen Faulkner

Kevin:

Is there a particular reason for the name?

Todd:

Tir Na Nog is a popular name in the tradition and history of Irish Pubs…it is Gaelic for “Land of Eternal Youth”. Who on this earth is more eternally youthful than the Irish?

Many times, new owners change a name to reflect themselves, but Maureen and I decided that we wanted to embrace the name, the memory of Billy Briggs, and the patrons who loved the bar. We have also kept many of the traditions alive, including the dart league, live music, and of course the support of the Billy Briggs Scholarship.

Conference room for community meetings

Kevin:

And if someone asked you what is the most important thing to do when you start or buy a pub?

Todd:

Do your research and don't jump into it. Make decisions with the business in mind. You may get a lot of suggestions or feedback, but always look at the "bottom line". And always keep the community at the forefront of your mind; we use the conference room on the second floor unit for meetings/interviews for various groups in Mercer County. 

Kevin:

And the one thing you would tell them not to do?

Todd:

Most important? To NOT be your own best customer!!

Kevin:

I see your Irish humor at work, Todd! When I visited Tir Na Nog two months back, it was more like a family than a business. What is your secret to that atmosphere?

Todd:

Going back for as long as it has in the Trenton area, there are patrons spreading over two or three generations. Many families got to know each other from meeting at the pub or other Irish organizations/events. Imagine all those memories! Their children are starting to turn 21...which means new customers.

We also have a great staff! I know you met Jennie and Jude when you last visited, they’re wonderful. We like long-term employees and treat them like family; Jude has been here from day one! Frank Connell worked at the pub from the beginning and just left to go back to Cavan, Ireland in 2018. He had been with the pub for 27 years, so you can imagine the send-off we had for him...the party lasted a month! Now that I think of it, we should probably fly him back for a month, it would be like 30 St Patrick's Days in a month!

Actually, all of the staff is fantastic...if not they wouldn't be behind the bar. 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” —Roger Caras writer)

Kevin:

Did you have a mentor to help you as you started running your bar?

Todd:

Yes, a few. My first boss in the bar industry was very helpful. We became friends and he has always been there to help. In return, we introduced him to his wife!

Other bar owners in the area have been great. It is nice to have a direct line to the owners rather than being competitive.


John McMannimon owns a pub bearing his name here in Trenton, and it’s a great place to go for a nice pint of Guinness and delicious Fish-n-Chips. Killarney's in Hamilton, co-owned by Seamus Farrell, also does a great Irish fish fry. Maureen and I pop in there occasionally for a Guinness.

We consider both bars to be owned by great people who have become wonderful friends to us. We always talk and work together; I shoot darts against Johnny in the Greater Trenton Dart League. He is better than me, but I hope to take a game from him this year. Seamus did a guest bartending gig for us a year ago; it was a great event and we raised a lot of money for the Billy Briggs Scholarship.

Kevin:

What are some other Irish pubs that you like?

Todd:

Mr. Dooley's in Boston. My rugby team would meet there on Friday nights to "discuss" our games on Saturday. Let’s just say that it was a good thing most kick-offs were at 1 PM on Saturday! The Irish Village in Allston, MA was nice too. Maureen's soccer team would meet there for socials after the games. 

All ages, all music and all Irish.

Kevin:

Can you tell me about your pub's music venues & other entertainment?

Todd:

Obviously, we try to do a lot of Irish music, but we mix it up. We do have musicians that do a lot of rock covers, country music, blues, blue-grass and even have had a Dixie-style band. 

In addition to music, we have an Intuitive Medium come in every once in a while to host sessions.  She has done this about 9 times with great success.

Kevin:

Do you have an amusing or interesting story about the pub that you can share?

Todd:

There are so many stories I have heard and experienced; I am sure one could make a movie about the lore! But this one is my favorite, it’s a good one! Within the 1st few months of ownership, I was at the bar on a Saturday night in January. I decided to cut the band because there was a snowstorm and the roads were getting really bad. I also decided to let the 2 bartenders go home, and I planned to close the bar and stay overnight. I ended up closing at midnight, so I started going upstairs to shut up the office and the liquor room. As soon as I passed Billy's photo on the stairs, the lights went out. Out! I thought it was Billy playing tricks on me because I closed the bar early. Needless to say, I quickly closed up and got on the road because I didn't want to be spooked all night! 

Billy was one of those bigger than life kind of guys. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I like to think that he approves of our ownership.

All roads lead to the Tir Na Nog

Kevin:

What is your opinion about the neighborhood?

Todd:

Unfortunately, Trenton has a stigma of being a rough area but ours is a clean and safe neighborhood. A lot of the guys in blue stop in, and the mayor pops in to check in on us, so we are in good hands. 

Kevin:

Is there a St Patrick's day parade? If so, can you talk about it?

Todd:

There was a St Patrick's Day Parade here in Trenton that, as you may remember, started right down the street from us. It was quite the celebration, however, due to 2 other parades within a 5-mile radius, the attendance had drastically gone down. They stopped the parade a few years ago. In its absence, the Trenton Irish Heritage Association holds a Irish Mass at St Anthony's Church for all the Irish Organizations in the area followed by a flag raising, then the group "parade" down to the Tir Na Nog to honor all of the past and present Irish in the area by hoisting a few pints while enjoying the Irish music. This is a nice way to kick-off the St Patrick Season.  Hamilton Township (the next town over) has a nice parade on the Saturday just before St. Patrick’s Day.

Kevin:

Thanks so much, Todd. You’ve been extremely informative, and I’ve enjoyed chatting with you.

Todd:

You’re more than welcome, Kevin. I hope to see you on your next visit East. Until then, Sláinte!

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