The History of Charleston Irish

The History of Charleston Irish

The Beginning

The roots of Charleston Irish informally started in the early 2000s. A few of the original Irish in Charleston, Frank, Gerry, Robert, Jack & Darragh, played football together and we met up to watch Irish matches.

There were around 20 Irish living in Charleston then. It was a rarity to hear an Irish accent in the city. But gradually more Irish moved here & in 2010 Charleston Irish was formally founded by Darragh Doran.


In 2011 Tommy Snee & John Riney opened Molly Darcy’s Irish Pub downtown; it became the center of the Irish community. 

The Rineys poured great pints there. Finbar MacCarthy played Irish music. Mark McLysaght provided the jokes. For the first time, we had a place that felt like home & great friendships were made at Molly’s. 

In the next few years, other Irish bars followed. Gerry Kieran opened Seanachai Social Club. James Walsh & Jim McCourt opened Prohibition, McCanns opened in Mt Pleasant, and John Teevan opened St James Gate on Folly Beach.

Our group grew and bonded from the craic at our events at these bars.

Irish in Town

Around the same time, Frank McMahon was the top chef in town. Prof David Gleeson was the Civil War expert at the College of Charleston. Brendan Dagg founded the Charleston Hurling Club. Everyone in Charleston knew Jack & Gerry at the market. Colin Falvey was captain of the professional Charleston Battery football team. 

The Irish were making an impact in Charleston.  

Rialtas na hÉireann

We have built a strong relationship with the Irish government and the Irish Consulate in Atlanta. Consul Shane Stephens was an early supporter of Charleston Irish. 

One of our proudest moments as a community was in 2018 when Charleston Irish hosted Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the United States, at one of our events. 

Charleston Irish was to be honored by the Irish Government for our work at a ceremony at The Citadel in 2020, but Covid intervened and that was canceled. The Irish government never rescheduled it unfortunately.  


There’s now about 200 Irish living in Charleston and it’s growing by the month.

We still have our regular Charleston Irish meetups which always draw a big crowd, but we also have more family friendly activities & sports now.

With more families arriving, the Irish families are able to meet other Irish children. We have many Irish groups now, an Irish dancing school, soccer, hurling, and Gaelic football teams. Catherine runs the Celtic Music group.

And there’s plenty of informal meetings too. Some of the Mt Pleasant folks meet for coffee before work every morning. The ladies of Charleston Irish have their own WhatsApp group & nights out. There’s always a round of golf being planned.

One of our main goals is to support newly arriving families and every week now we get emails from Irish thinking of moving to Charleston & we help them out.

The majority of the Irish in town are small business owners, so whatever you need, we have someone in the Irish community who can help. If you’re starting a new business, we promote and support it. 

Above all, we’re far from Ireland but when you’re part of our community, it feels like you’re right at home. 

The Future

The Charleston Irish group is really only getting going now. We finally have the numbers now to make an impact. We have big plans for the future. If you want get involved, have an ideas or want to help us grow, contact us!