The incredible true story of the Ronald Reagan Irish Pub
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The incredible true story of the Ronald Reagan Irish Pub

AS THE 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan was a divisive figure among certain sections of the American public.

One unquestionable truth about the actor-turned-leader-of-the-free -world, however, was the fact he boasted a distinctive Irish heritage.

Both of President Reagan’s parents boasted Irish roots.

His mother, Nelle Clyde was of English, Irish and Scottish descent while his paternal great-grandparents were Irish Catholic emigrants from County Tipperary.

Born and raised in Ballyporeen, Ronald's great-grandfather Thomas Reagan moved his family across the Atlantic in search of a new life.

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He found that and plenty more besides.

Fast forward some 70 years or more and President Reagan found himself returning to his great-grandfather’s country of origin in 1984.

It offered a chance to visit the place where Thomas had been born lived.

On top of that, it was a chance to shake hands with the locals and learn more about where he came from.

Organisers could thing of no better place for such meetings than Ballyporeen and the much loved local, O’Farrell’s Pub.

There President Reagan was able to grab a drink and chat further with some of the locals.

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It was an experience they didn’t forget – and neither did the owners.

Big fans of the President and his approach to life in the Oval Office, the pub’s owners had already gone as far as naming a room in the 100-year-old bar the Ronald Reagan Salon.

The visit put Ballyporeen and their put on the map.

In the years and decades that followed, Reagan would often talk about one day returning to the pub for a pint of Guinness and another chart with the O’Connells.

A lover of all things Irish, St Patrick's Day was a cause of mass celebration while Reagan was in office.

For whatever reason, the return visit never happened.

Busy with life and increasingly frail, Reagan never returned to the O’Farrell’s Pub for one more pint.

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But he often spoke about it.

So much so, in fact, that when Frederick J. Ryan Jr, the chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation visited Ireland he made a point of paying a trip to the pub the President had spoken to fondly of.

When he got there, however, he found to his horror that the pub was not only closed. But completely boarded up.

It turned out owners John and Mary O'Farrell were in the process of selling the historic watering hole, piece by piece.

Eager to salvage some of the Irish magic Reagan had discovered during his time there, Ryan made a bold counter offer: $100,000 for the whole pub.

He had a plan.

Board by board, brick by brick, glass by glass, he had the entire interior of the bar was taken apart and transported back across the Atlantic to a new home in California.

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Now up and running at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, California the renamed Ronald Reagan Pub sits under the wings of the late President’s retired Air Force One.

An enduring tribute to his Irish roots and the special links between America and Ireland, today the Ronald Reagan Pub is a must-see for anyone with an interest in the bonds formed by centuries of emigration.

With Guinness ready and available on tap, whatever your political leanings a visit to this unique drinking establishment may have you raising a glass or two to President Reagan.