I had been told I was in Florida, but I had this eerie feeling someone was playing tricks on me. There wasn’t one bit of sunshine, the temperature was hovering in the 50s and the wind brought the chill factor down to bone-biting. Welcome to Jacksonville Beach in November. After checking into the wonderful Casa Marina Hotel, I pulled on my sweater and strolled a couple of blocks to Lynch’s Irish Pub. Proprietor Keith Doherty gave me a proper Irish welcome and I felt instantly warmer as I settled into my bar stool to attempt to take Keith up on his challenge. ‘We have 50 beers on tap. You’ve got a couple of days to try them all.’
I had a nice visit with Rhonda and learned she had been behind the bar at Lynch’s for many years. I tried a couple of Florida drafts and took a walk around. Lynch’s could easily go into the encyclopedia as the quintessential Irish pub. The as promised 50 beers on tap were lined around the back of the bar. Dart boards? Check. Pool tables? Check. Music stage? Check. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of completing my challenge, so I finished my beer and said my goodbyes to Rhonda, preparing to return the next evening for a proper Irish meal.
The late Desmond Lynch opened his pub in 1994. A native of Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, Lynch wanted to bring a taste of his native Ireland to northern Florida. Many of the items on display at the pub were brought in by Lynch when he would come home from visits to the mother land. In many ways, when you step inside, you feel somehow transported to Ireland. Lynch did a marvelous job creating the pub and his tradition lives on today.
I returned the next evening, a Friday, and after Rhonda poured me a beer I began studying the menu. As soon as I saw Scotch eggs on the menu I knew I had to have them. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re hard boiled eggs, rolled in sausage, coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. They are absolutely delicious and Lynch’s clearly knows how to make them to perfection. I have to confess that I’m a sucker for corned beef and cabbage. I could probably eat it every day and not grow tired of it. My plate arrived with a couple of generous slices of corned beef that fell apart at the touch of a fork, bright green cabbage, potatoes and gravy. I was a happy camper. There is, of course, live music on the weekends, but as one of the bartenders told me, the action doesn’t even start until 10. Jacksonville Beach is a late night crowd.
Lynch’s Irish Pub is located at 514 First Street North in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. (904) 249-5181. When you stop in, please tell Keith and Rhonda I said ‘hi.’