Updated: May 26, 2019
With over sixty years and three generations, Ireland's 32 is still growing strong.
In 1963, Ireland’s 32 opened (albeit under a different name) in Van Nuys, is the most populated area in the lovely San Fernando Valley. It is one of the oldest (many claims that it is THE oldest) Irish bars in Los Angeles. Since it is nestled in the home of TV and movie industries, this time reference may help: In 1963, “The Fugitive,” “The “Outer Limits,” and “Petticoat Junction” debuted, and The Twilight Zone halted production in 1964.
Ireland’s 32’s name was coined in the seventies, during the start of “The Troubles.” It was designed to show the unity of all of Ireland's thirty-two counties, not separated as the twenty-six that make up The Republic of Ireland, with the other six still being under the control of The United Kingdom
Let’s move forward sixty years from the pub's debut and meet Megan Kennedy. Megan has been the owner of Ireland’s 32 for the last six years and is the second in her prestigious Kennedy generation to own and manage Ireland’s 32. We had the opportunity to chat with this gracious host and pick her brain about the history of this lively pub.
Megan does not remember a time when she did not think of her Irish roots, nor her family’s Irish America traditions. Like her Mom, Megan is a first generation American and her Dad moved from Tipperary to the USA, Her family began instilling Irish culture and values in her at an early age. She began dance lessons as a baby at the famous Butler Fearon O’Connor School of Irish Dance that is owned by her mom, Kate. Megan still works there as a teacher of traditional Irish dance and music. She attends, and sometimes represents the bar, at numerous local Irish events.
Megan began to help around the pub at age sixteen, and at age twenty-one, she started to tend bar, perfecting her pint-pulling talents quickly. When her dad, Seamus, was thinking about retiring and selling Ireland’s 32, Megan stepped up to take over the Kennedy legacy. Megan also had an Irish import business but closed it two years ago to focus on making the pub better and better.
Megan knows her Grandpa, Kevin O’Connor, is happy knowing that the pub is still in the family hands. Kevin O'Connor was one of the first patrons at the pub around 1963 and this photo shows how the San Fernando Valley looked as he sauntered into the pub back then.
We asked Megan what people should know before looking to buy a pub. Her advice is “so Megan” and “so Irish” in that it is supportive, strong-willed, and practical. “A person needs to know what they are getting into. Often people have the impression that a quaint pub and good food will take care of itself. They are so wrong. They need to know that a good pub is not just a business and that a business is not just a pub. While an owner always has to make sure all the patrons have a grand time, if an owner can’t pay their bills, the place will go away.” (Note: A staggering sixty percent of new bars and restaurants go out of business before the end of their first year.) [i]
In a town where bars and restaurants change and jump on the latest-gimmick-bandwagon, Ireland’s 32 has consistently provided the same great food, hospitable staff, and welcoming bar stools to their cherished clientele for over sixty years. The key word is consistent, as some of the bartenders have pulled pints in Ireland’s 32 for well over twenty-seven years, with the longest coming in at thirty years of loyal service!! Moses Molane is the pub’s rookie since joining the team since 2016. Ask anyone in the pub business, and you know that employee turnover rates are high; this amazing feat speaks volumes about the leadership of the owners, both past and present.
Ireland’s 32 has always been a comfortable spot for the Irish to meet to see other expatriates. In the early San Fernando Valley, many of the gardeners and trees trimmers were Irish, and Megan’s mom said that when the weather was inclement, it seemed that every Irishman from far and wide stopped in to visit with friends over a cold pint glass. They would come in on rainy days but always Fridays and, they still show up at their favorite stool and decompress as they tell stories and listen to music.
The patrons are professionals, studio people, tourists, and neighborhood regulars (some have visited for over thirty-six years). Ireland's 32 have a couple of families like the three generations of the Doherty that have been coming in for 40 plus years but if you count their babies (and why wouldn't you?) that come in with them, then makes it four generations!
One woman said she stops by because it is one of the few bars she feels comfortable walking in by herself, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s addicted to the great food!
Ireland’s 32 loves music! Sunday has Karaoke for people who love to sing, Monday delivers a Songwriter’s Series, Tuesday is their Acoustic Guitar special time, and Wednesday through Saturday has live music like Gypsy Jazz, Country, classic rock, and of course both new and classic Irish songs.
Please visit, and within ten minutes, you will be welcomed into Ireland’s 32 heart and will quickly become family.
13721 Burbank Blvd Van Nuys, California 91401
Phone: 1 818-785-4031 Email: email@example.com