Between a large Celtic cross and the world’s only upside-down traffic light lies a pub that welcomes humans and little green men alike. Complete with a tiny leprechaun door and miniature telephone booth, Coleman’s, an authentic Irish pub on Tipperary Hill, feels like a slice of Dublin. Merry Irish music plays as pub-goers drink and chat, surrounded by dark wood paneling and stained-glass windows of Celtic symbols. While most visitors admire the leprechaun entryway, some quasi-criminals have stolen the miniature door, which costs more than its full-sized replica.
“Oh, this building takes a beating,” laughs Adrian Nugent, Coleman’s general manager, who has worked there since emigrating from Ireland 26 years ago. Originally a grocery store, the Coleman family converted the building into a bar in 1933 at the end of Prohibition and still operate the place today. The pub’s notoriety isn't confined to Syracuse though, boasting visitors that range from a former Speaker of the House to an Irish Prime Minister.
For locals, Coleman’s is the go-to spot for St. Patrick’s Day. Festivities begin with the annual shipment of green beer three weeks before the holiday (an occasion marked by a neighborhood-wide parade). And it’s never too early to get drunk at Coleman’s: stop by the pub as early as 6 a.m. on St. Patty’s Day, but prepare to wait in a line of over 200 people.
On a typical Thursday night, simple guitar chords fill the air as a live band warms up. Customers huddle in booths and around barstools, bantering with fellow patrons. A gentleman wearing a gray bowler hat and tie emblazoned with clocks approaches two random women in the corner. “Is it your first time here?” he asks before delving into stories about Syracuse’s history. As he walks away, the woman smiles at her friend—every Irish pub has its regulars. “It’s all about the people here,” Nugent says. “They keep this place going.”