Short Stops

An Authentic Irish Pub Brings Salty Flavor to Ocean Shores

Galway Bay Irish Pub is better than it has to be, from the menus to the music.

By Allison Williams February 21, 2022

The Galway Bay Irish Pub whiskey collection goes beyond the bounds of Ireland to include scotch, rye, and more.

May my Celtic ancestors forgive me, but I didn't expect much of an Irish pub in the seaside resort town of Ocean Shores. Irish-themed establishments across the West Coast tend toward the generic, saluting their roots only on St. Patrick's Day and otherwise dishing forgettable fare. But if that kind of Irish American drinking hole is warm green beer, the Galway Bay Irish Pub is a well-poured Guinness.

For one, the complex—a few blocks inland from the endless Pacific waves of Ocean Shores—joins a bar, restaurant, game room, whiskey tasting room, and shop under one roof, plus a patio out back. But more than its breadth, the pub's commitment to food and fun reveals an Irish soul that goes far deeper than shamrocks and harps.

Here the cheese plate features County Tipperary cheddar and pasties swim in a whiskey cream sauce. Colcannon, a mashed potato dish jazzed up with greens, accompanies most plates. The kitchen produces large slabs of not-too-salty corned beef every day, served  tumbling out from between slices of fresh-baked soda bread. A traditional breakfast, available all day, combines the requisite eggs, rashers, black-and-white puddings, baked beans, tomatoes, and bangers. Less traditional: a vegan section of the menu, including a meatless sausage roll, new this spring.

Dinner comes with a side of tunes on weekends. One winter Saturday, Emmet McElhinney, a singer who calls himself That Irish Guy, solicited requests in his thick brogue with one caveat: "As long as it's not 'Danny Boy.'" His repertoire includes Scottish drinking songs, ribald call-and-response ditties, and a rollicking version of "Galway Girl." (Of the latter, he notes it's not actually a traditional tune but rather penned by Steve Early and popularized in the 2007 rom-com P.S. I Love You. Still, it bangs.)

Derek Warfield and the Young Wolf Tones perform during Galway Bay's Celtic Music Feis.

McElhinney's sea chanteys are a subtle reminder that salty ocean air and Irish joy make sense together. Ocean Shores may be a beach town, but not in the sun-and-surf kind of way; here even in summer the brisk wind is better suited to kites than tanning. In October—"typically the worst time of the year in Ocean Shores," says co-owner Christopher Doyle—the pub and nearby convention center swell with music stages during the Galway Bay's Celtic Music Feis.

Doyle bought into the business about 10 years ago, joining friend Liam Gibbons in the eatery that has been open since the mid-'90s. Third-generation Irish and raised in Chicago, Doyle laughs that no, Ocean Shores does not have a big Irish population: "Just an incredible love of Irish culture." He helped add the whiskey tasting and cigar room—a kind of leather-clad drinking den you'd find at an old world country club—and expanded Galway Bay across the whole property. "We're just a local neighborhood bar, but 10,000 square feet of Irishness," he says.

Galway Bay Irish Pub

880 Point Brown Ave NE, Ocean Shores 
Travel time from Seattle: 2 hours, 30 minutes

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