On the fourth night of the RNC, pub owner and self proclaimed “Pub-lican” Kieran Folliard found himself with a ticket to the RNC, and with a little Irish charm and wit snuck his way into the private party rooms of the convention. He was the Irish Trojan Horse of the Convention.
It had been a busy week for Folliard, who was heading up the “party” of the Republican Party. Owner of several popular hotspots for RNC visitors, and an accidental guest at the convention itself, Folliard was witness and participant in the lighter side of the RNC week.
Folliard, who was born in Ireland, has made his home in Minnesota for more than twenty years and has been a U.S. citizen for seven years. He owns three pubs: Kieran’s Irish Pub and The Local in Minneapolis, and The Liffey in Saint Paul. Kieran acquired licenses for both The Local and The Liffey for the RNC Convention.
“Our expectations were moderate,” Folliard says about how well the pubs might do. He was aware that in past conventions, such as in Boston, local businesses have been disappointed because so many convention-goers go to private parties.
The Liffey, which is kitty-corner from the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, seems like it would be in an ideal spot to reap the benefits of so many visitors, but a great steel fence blocked people from easily walking to the pub. “The barrier system was a bit intrusive really,” says Folliard. Still, in the end, there was enough late night traffic to make the extra licensure money worth it.
The Local, which is located down the block from The Hilton in Minneapolis, lucked out in its location. The McCain headquarters was located at the Hilton, and each night of the convention the place was packed with delegates looking to have a good time.
Folliard, a jovial host as always, didn’t take long in becoming popular among the guests. In fact, some of the delegates liked him so much they offered him a couple of tickets to attend the fourth night of the convention. “I thought, well, one must expose oneself to these things,” Folliard says.
Folliard compares his entry into the convention to “The Trojan Horse”. Not a Republican or a Democrat, he votes for the individual. Folliard jokingly attributes himself to the Pub-lican party. Looking at the exposure he and his Irish Pubs had during the Republican National Convention, he may be looking at a promising political future.
The free tickets were for the “club room” at the Excel center, where he and his friend asked for two beers. They were shocked to learn that alcohol wasn’t served in the club room. “No beers?” Kieran said to his friend. “That’s unconstitutional.”
They quickly realized that if they were going to have any fun at all, they were going to sneak into some of the other private rooms, which, Folliard says, wasn’t particularly difficult. “I don’t know if anybody in the place knew anybody else in the place,” Folliard says. The security, it seems was not particularly stringent. In the private, rooms, Folliard and his friend hob-nobbed with various names in the Republican Party, and Folliard himself had a rather lengthy chat with John Voigt.
Toward the end of the evening, Folliard and his new group of friends headed out and around the fence to have a few pints at The Liffey. When they got there, they found the pub was full of women wearing Obama buttons. But, according to Folliard, there was no incivility. In fact, the Republicans and the Democrats began talking to each other and by the end of the night, everyone was singing and having a great time. “We closed the place at 4 a.m.,” Folliard says. It was a bi-partisan effort.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo. [Full disclosure: She’s also related to the Pub-lican.]