St Patrick’s Day 2023: Life of Brian

Now he’s been at the helm of The Globe Irish Pub near Nørreport for over quarter of a century, it’s probably fair craic we can finally use the Monty Python reference

If you come up from the bowels of the Metro at Nørreport Station and dive down Nørregade, you will come across, after about 100 metres on your right, the Globe Pub. 

Running since 1997, this venerable establishment is a shining star in the constellation of Copenhagen’s Irish pubs. Ahead of St Patrick’s Day we caught up with landlord Brian McKenna for some craic.

Tree of life

As you enter the pub you walk past a huge wrought-iron clock face and a tree that goes from floor to ceiling. I ask Brian about the tree.

“Yeah, the story behind the tree is that tree landed in the street on a very windy Sunday one October. And we couldn’t lift it, so we had to cut it in half. And then we got in trouble with the police because we were blocking the street. So the tree ended up in here.

“But if you’ve ever been to Waxy O’Connors in London, they’ve got a tree like that.”

The church giveth

The pub is full of dark wood, lots of which is engraved. As it turns out, the Globe has a pious streak.

“All of the interior, and all the old bannisters and interior, come from a church in Wales,” Brian explains as we walk around. 

“The panelling and stuff was all salvaged. The only thing that was new in here was the furniture. Everything else was from the church.”

Snug with a jug

Brian points me to a cosy looking enclave with a table in the middle, fashioned like everything else out of old church wood.

“So back then every Irish pub would have a ‘snug’. And the snug was invented because women weren’t allowed in pubs, but the women were allowed to go into the snug. The snug always used to be at the end of the bar, but here it’s a small way off.”

A good example of a snug, says Brian, is in ‘Peaky Blinders’, where the Shelby Brothers have their meetings.

Stoned floors

The Globe is full of nooks and crannies, all replete with various churchy bits and pieces. There is even a library for anyone in search of some enlightenment. “We try to educate people here at the Globe,” Brian says.

Another peculiarity of the pub, which is on three levels, is the mosaic floor downstairs depicting many strange and wonderful beasts.

“That was done by a guy called TP,” Brian continues. “He actually used to get his inspiration from Christiania: he would light up a couple of doobies and work away and there you go. As you can see it’s a bit different. There’s a pumpkin, there’s a snake, there’s an anchor. There’s lots of character on the floor.”

Copious character

At the Globe there’s lots of character everywhere, and when you combine that with alcohol it can only lead to good things.

After the tour, we sit down for a cup of coffee, and the Q&A begins.

First of all, what’s St Patrick’s Day like at The Globe?

Well this year we’ll be opening at 12pm and we’ll be serving green beer from the Czech Republic. It’s actually a beer the Czechs drink in spring, but we’re using it for St Patrick’s. It’s great for us anyway because it comes naturally green from the brewery. 

We’ll also have live music all day. We always have a big party atmosphere. We’ll be serving traditional Irish food till seven or eight o’clock. We keep serving food until it becomes too crowded, but then we’ll stop because it becomes too dangerous.

We’re actually the only pub in Copenhagen that serves Irish food. We do Irish stew, Irish breakfast, and Irish beef and Guinness pie. And then on Friday’s there’s fish and chips.

When does the day usually start?

The day starts here at about 10am in the morning, when we start getting the place ready for St Patrick’s Day. We have the 3-Legged Race that’s passing through, so we have to set up an outside bar where we give them a beer, stamp them and send them off on their merry way.

And what time do you finish?Sometimes the next day, yeah. It’s a long, long day. It can be quite stressful: there’s a lot of drunken people. But when it’s all over we’ll celebrate by drowning the Shamrock. But after that we have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next day. 

Which could be a big day if Ireland win the Grand Slam in the Six Nations on the 18th …

It will be a big day. I don’t think we need to plan anything. I think people will come here – the rugby fans. We are very much a rugby pub, so I do believe we will have a full house.

Are you a rugby fan?

I’m a rugby fan, yeah. Also a Liverpool fan, so a bit of both. I actually sponsor a rugby team here called Gentofte Rugby Club. It’s for kids up to 16, and my son plays there.

How has St Patrick’s in Copenhagen changed over the years?

What’s contributed to St Patrick’s Day in Denmark is the Irish pubs. We have really highlighted St Patrick’s Day: we were the first ones. St Patrick’s Day was always big in Ireland. So then us Irish, who have left Ireland and opened up businesses overseas, have brought St Patrick’s Day with us. 

Now Ireland has become very famous. It’s famous because of Irish people and the craic, and we’re easy going and all that. And everybody wants to hear a ‘Diddley-Diddley-Eye’ and ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. That’s St Patrick’s Day.

Do you have any stories about St Patrick’s Days past?

I remember that the early days of St Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be so busy. And then gradually St Patrick’s Day took off, and more and more people began to dress up and stuff like that. 

But what really stuck out was two years ago during the Covid lockdown when we were closed on St Patrick’s Day. So I had some Guinness downstairs that was going out of date. I think I had ten barrels of it. And I think what am I going to do: send them back? I wasn’t going to do that.

So I put up on social media that there would be a free pint of Guinness for anybody who stopped by on Patrick’s Day.

So people came and we ended up giving away a lot of Guinness and we asked people to donate to Shamrock Love, which is the charity that sponsors the 3-Legged Race. Some people were very, very generous in donating to the cause. 

But the funny thing was then we were getting a lot of attention on the street from the police, because of social distancing and all that. We had a few people on the street making sure everyone was far enough away. 

Then the crowd started to build. We were on the eighth barrel, something like that. And then the police came and said: that’s enough, you’re gonna have to close this down. There’s too many people in the area. 

And so I came back into the pub after everyone had gone home. The bartender was behind the bar, and I told him the police had been and shut it all down. And he says: “I know. I called them! I went downstairs and there’s only two barrels left!”

The Globe opens at 12pm on St Patrick’s Day on March 17.

Check out our entire 2023 St Patrick’s Day supplement here.