Walking through the doors of The Fastnet Pub, you may as well be skipping across the ocean and into a pub in Ireland itself. It’s a place where, according to them, “there are no strangers… only friends.”
Manager Paul McBride has created an atmosphere as Gaelic as his own roots. With an impressive lineup of Irish and international beers and whiskeys on the menu, traditional pub grub favorites cooking in the kitchen and even Irish music sessions each Sunday, the pub offers the closest thing to a true Irish experience this side of the Atlantic. St. Patrick’s Day won’t be marked with green beer and curdled Irish cream here. Rather, a healthy helping of genuine Irish hospitality.
Coming from the same side of the pond as you, I have to say it’s wonderful to walk into a proper pub. How did you go about creating such a genuinely Irish experience?
Well the owner is also an Irishman. We met when I was a customer and became friends – as is the Irish way. So the pub has Irish roots through and through. This isn’t a theme bar. It’s a real Irish pub.
Is there any significance behind the name of the pub?
The name, The Fastnet Pub, comes from the lighthouse off the south coast of Ireland. It is the last piece of land the Titanic would have seen before setting sail towards America. There is also an eponymous sailing race that circumnavigates the Fastnet lighthouse, so the name has strong ties to sailing, Ireland and America, making it just right for a Newport tavern.
With St. Patrick’s Day on the calendar this month, are you planning any special events or drink offerings?
We’d rather focus on offering something really great all the time than doing drink specials or gimmicks. You won’t get your green beer here.
However, the parade route runs right past the pub. All of the front windows can open up fully so it’s like the parade is in the pub. It’s great atmosphere. On St. Patrick’s Day we’ll have a kitchen special of Corned Beef and Cabbage on the menu, as well as other pub grub classics like Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie and Fish and Chips.
Drinks-wise, if you want something really traditional, it’s got to be a pint of Guinness.
People don’t often realize how much work it takes to pour a really good Guinness. We keep our lines really clean, keep the temperature and turn over just right, and use proper Guinness glasses. Quality is very important to us.
What else would you recommend for someone wanting to get into the spirit in true Irish tradition?
We have 33 draft lines here. Six are Irish favorites including Guinness, Harp and Magner’s Cider. The rest of our selection is from across the US and Europe with three lines reserved for our rotating microbrews. The microbrews change up regularly, so always ask what pint we’re pulling when you come in.
We also pride ourselves on our whiskey selection. The shelves behind the bar are lined with Irish staples such as Teeling, Midleton and Glenalough alongside Scottish and American varieties to keep any palate happy.
What is it that brings people back to the bar week after week?
There’s a really friendly atmosphere here at The Fastnet. We have all kinds of customers from young people looking for a fun night in our beer garden playing corn hole or shooting pool in the bar, families having lunch on the weekend before taking in the sights of Newport to those looking for a place to watch the Rugby Six Nations tournament and European Soccer, which we show in their entirety.
We’ve also got a packed entertainment roster. Monday is Blues Night and the musicians we have here have played with the greats, so it’s a really excellent show. Wednesday is Trivia Night where we have some really cool prizes. You can bring your own team or make one up from people you meet on the night. Thursdays you’ll need your running shoes for the run and chug, which is a three-mile dash around Newport followed by challenging chug. It’s not for the faint hearted, but is a lot of fun.
On Sunday we have a session. A session is like an Irish music jam. We have visiting musicians that know all the traditional tunes, but anyone who knows the songs are welcome to join in. It’s really friendly and collaborative, a truly Irish evening.
1 Broadway, Newport