For Brian Boru’s longtime patrons, a piece of “Old Portland” will disappear when the Irish-style pub in the heart of downtown pours its last pint early Monday.

Dan Steele, owner of Brian Ború, poses outside the bar Friday. Steele announced he is closing the Irish pub at 1 a.m. Monday. One regular customer said, “You don’t want to say it’s the ‘Cheers’ of Portland, but it kind of is.”  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The bar announced in a Facebook post Friday morning that it will close at 1 a.m. on Monday.

Daniel Steele, Brian Boru’s owner, said he is grateful for more than two decades of serving Portland.

“We have had a fantastic run, and fantastic employees,” Steele said.

As for what happens next, Steele said he’s not sure.

“Since I announced it was closing, I’ve had at least 10 brokers and investors reach out to me,” Steele said. “We’ll see.”

Steele, 58, said that after more than 25 years in the business, he is ready for a change, and the pub is not closing for financial reasons.

“I just figured it was time,” said Steele, of Bowdoinham. “It’s a true Irish pub, and I’m proud of that.”

The pub opened in 1993, and Steele said that over the years it “became built into the fabric of this city.”

The news comes soon after the owners of Lolita’s and Silly’s announced they were shuttering their Portland peninsula restaurants.


Brian Boru has long been a favorite place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and was known for Thursday barbecues, bands and Irish music.

Sarah Scott of South Portland said that when places like Silly’s and Brian Boru close, Portland loses some of its character as developers from Massachusetts and Connecticut take over.

“We’re losing those unique spots,” Scott said. “It’s indicative of what’s happening to this city.”

Silly’s owner, Colleen Kelley, told the Press Herald earlier this week that one reason she was closing her Munjoy Hill eatery was because the restaurant no longer fit in with the “new hipster, artisan” food scene.

Scott said Munjoy Hill used to be an inexpensive place to live, and now there are condos going in, and the nearby Old Port has lots of fancy new hotels.

Portland resident Caitlin Gilmet said she enjoyed the “frat party” atmosphere of Brian Boru.

“It was Old Portland all the way and I’ll miss walking past and cringing,” Gilmet said.

Scott said the place had a different feel to it depending on what day and time you entered the pub. It could be a laid-back barbecue, Irish sing-alongs, or a crowd of 20-somethings dancing to electronic music late at night.

But while patrons were lamenting the impending closure, there were still lots of laughs, hugs and good cheer to go around Friday afternoon within the walls of the dark-red brick building.

“You don’t want to say it’s the ‘Cheers’ of Portland, but it kind of is,” said Rose Mahoney, 54, of Portland, a regular customer. “It’s a big loss. There’s no place like this in Portland. One day, you could be having a conversation about abstract physics, and the next day, it’s bathroom humor.”

Mahoney said the regulars celebrate life at Brian Boru, talking about births, funerals, weddings and divorces.

Andrew Doody of Westbrook is a saxophone player and said he has played in many bands at Brian Boru.

“You never have to call someone and ask if they’re going. You can show up at any time, and have family and friends here,” Doody said.

Mahoney hung posters all over the bar Friday, titled, “Farewell.” The posters were made by a collaboration of customers, she said.

“Thank you for the laughs, the love, the history and the friendships,” the poster read.

 

 

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