Formerly called Flaherty’s, Irish Pub and Sports Grill reopened with lower prices and a new name, but is it still the same?

A pint of guiness and a menu from Flaherty's Irish Pub
The name may have changed, but the Guinness hasn’t. Photo by Kharla Graham.

Been listening to your Flogging Molly Pandora station and dreaming about jetting off to Ireland for a pint of Guinness with fish and chips? Since my first trip “across the pond” about a year ago, I have been looking (mostly in vain) for some semblance of the experience that was Dublin. While I have yet to find anything that matched the general delight of the pubs in Ireland’s capitol city, I did find, in the heart of Maryville, TN, an emerald in the rough by the name of Irish Pub and Sports Grill (IPSG).

As you walk into the pub, you are instantly transported to Temple Street in Dublin. Everything from the benches, to the fabrics, to the lighting was imported directly from Ireland. The lighting is low enough so that even in the daylight you can hide from any “gowl” (Irish slang for annoying person) you don’t want to see. In the corner, there is space for musicians to set up and the pub is accented with Gaelic phrases to complete your mental transport to Ireland. Pull up a stool at the bar or have a seat at one of the ornately carved benches that are intermixed through the restaurant and you can order from the authentic selection of traditional Irish entrees such as: bangers and mash, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage along with many others. 

While nothing on the inside of this authentic Irish pub has changed from my first visit, the familiar scatter (group) will probably still refer to the establishment by it’s previous name: Flaherty’s. As I saddled up for my first “pint o’ the black stuff” (Guinness), I inquired of the waiter why the name changed. I was informed that although the owners had not changed, the name was altered to bring in a larger clientele. The waiter went on to tell me that with the Irish name, the pub had suffered financially and a decision was made to give the pub a more “American” name and generally lower the prices.

Although it seemed like the place was receiving a larger lunch crowd and the prices were lower from the previous time I had visited, that is about where the positives of the change ended. As usual, I ordered the fish and chips which, as I recollected, was a positively delightful choice as the cod was perfectly flaky, the batter was just savory enough with just hint of Guinness and the chips (fries) were garlicky and slightly tossed in basil and salt. Unfortunately, this second taste of Ireland left me thinking of frozen fish and bland fries from a diner. Needless-to-say, it was down to the Guinness to whisk me away across the pond and true to form, it did. Whether it was the brand marked pint it was in, the perfect head it wore at top of the glass, or the fresh tap taste that finished my visit on a positive note, I do not know, but what I do know is that IPSG lost something more than its Irish credibility when the owners changed the name, they lost their flavor and should probably now be called “Plastic Paddy’s” as it would more accurately portray the dining experience you will have at the former, Flaherty’s. Slainte!

Irish Pub & Sports Grill is open every day at 11 and closes at midnight through the week and 2am Friday and Saturday.  IPSG is located in Maryville at 1720 W Broadway Ave, Maryville, TN 37803.   (865) 724-1300