We caught up with Sam Blundell, manager of Conor O’Neill’s, who kindly gave us the scoop on how this iconic Irish pub has become a Boulder institution.
Boulder Source: Can you tell us about the origins of Conor O’Neill’s?
Sam Blundell: When Colm O’Neill finished his professional Gaelic football career, he and Tommy Murray (another Irishman) decided to open an Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It went so well that they quickly opened a second pub in Boulder, Colorado.
Boulder Source: What makes Conor O’Neill’s a traditional Irish pub?
Sam Blundell: When Conor O’Neill’s opened, all of the interior décor was assembled in Ireland and shipped to Boulder. It gives Conor O’Neill’s the authentic feel of an actual Irish Pub.
Boulder Source: What has made Conor O’Neill’s so popular?
Sam Blundell: The people make Conor O’Neill’s so popular- starting with Colm and Christine O’Neill (the owners), the friendly staff, and the customers. We all work together to make it a real community.
Boulder Source: How has it become a Boulder institution?
Sam Blundell: Despite all of the change that has occurred in Boulder over the last 17 years Conor O’Neill’s has been a constant fixture of the downtown, and a contributing part of the business community.
Boulder Source: What are your top events?
Sam Blundell: Every year we have the ‘worlds shortest’ St. Patrick’s Day parade on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, and the celebration continues through the week to the biggest day of the year, St. Patrick’s Day!
Boulder Source: What makes Conor O’Neill’s so special?
Sam Blundell: In addition to being the only Irish Pub in Boulder we have a welcoming and cozy energy that’s unique.
Boulder Source: Is there a big Irish community in Boulder and Boulder County?
Sam Blundell: There is a surprisingly large amount of people from Ireland or of Irish ancestry in the Front Range area. In addition, many Europeans living in Boulder make Conor O’Neill’s a regular stop.
Boulder Source: Can you tell me about recent events and the possible shut down of the pub? What happened and what was the community response?
Sam Blundell: The ‘last’ week we were to be open there was a huge upswell of business. It was like St. Patrick’s Day every day. People came in to say goodbye, I couldn’t tell you how many stories I heard from people about their personal experiences at Conor O’Neill’s. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears.
Boulder Source: How were you all feeling? Was it a shock to hear that you were closing, then relief that you were re-opening?
Sam Blundell: We were all saddened to be closing down. It was like saying goodbye to a close friend you knew you wouldn’t see again. When we found out we were reopening it was a complete shock. We all kept smiling and saying “I can’t believe it!”
Boulder Source: How has business been since you re-opened?
Sam Blundell: Business has been amazing since we reopened. So many people have been coming in to tell us how happy they are that the landlords had a change of heart. The outpouring of positive energy has been tremendous.