Leslieville must have the luck of the Irish. The east-end neighbourhood will be home to two new Irish pubs this spring: The Roy, at 894 Queen Street East, and the Ceili Cottage, at 1301 Queen Street East. The latter doesn’t look like much right now, but the bones are there. And according to proprietor Patrick McMurray, champion oyster shucker and owner of Starfish, they are good bones. The space was last an unremarkable auto body shop, but the building itself dates back to the 1850s. McMurray is now peeling back the layers of paint, paper, motor grease, plywood and cement in order to create the Irish cottage of his dreams. “My wife and I often came down to Sweet Bliss Baking Company, across the road, and when she ran in for cupcakes, I’d sit in the car and stare at the place. I could see the outline of my Irish cottage under those bricks. One day, I was sitting and staring and there it was, the ‘For Rent’ sign.”
“I’ve always wanted an Irish bar, and I can see this place in my head. It’s got whitewashed walls and a slate roof. In the window boxes, geraniums, and all around, a white picket fence with hops climbing up. And there will be a black bike permanently leaning against the wall.” In the summer, gentle Celtic music will wash over a planned 70-seat patio, but for now, there are no fiddles—just the constant rumble of the backhoe digging out concrete.
For a Toronto boy, Shucker Paddy is about as Irish as they come. There’s even a slight brogue in his voice from time to time. Though the original plan was to open the Ceili Cottage for St. Patrick’s Day, the dream now is to open in late April. Here’s hoping McMurray, like Leslieville, has the luck of the Irish.