many points throughout the American Revolution, the Continental Army
struggled for its survival. On some occasions those struggles
place on the battlefield, but more often than not they would take place
during times of relative peace. Perhaps the Army’s
hour took place during a period of very little armed conflict, the
winter encampment of 1779-80 at Morristown,
Tucked in the hills of Northwestern New Jersey, modern-day Morristown
is known for its great historical sites, a New England-style commons
known as the “Morristown Green," and its wonderful cafes and
restaurants. But it is probably most known throughout the local
as a center for great taverns. And this isn’t a new
into Morristown’s revolutionary history and you will find many
references to taverns.
A place called the “Half Moon Tavern” was located near Jockey Hollow,
where the army was encamped. It was a popular spot for officers
the headquarters of General John Stark, who fought with distinction at
Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, and lead a victory over the British at
the Battle of Bennington. General Washington’s headquarters were
place called Arnold’s Tavern in 1777 and General Nathaniel Greene,
perhaps Washington’s most accomplished leader, made it his winter home
in 1780. And you will often find a place called the Norris Tavern
many history books. It was there that Benedict Arnold was
court-martialed. His guilty verdict led him to become America’s
|IRISH SETTER STAINED-GLASS
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average foot soldier, however, had to withstand what is often
referred to as the worst American winter in recorded history, without
the warmth and comfort of a cozy tavern. They faced starvation,
disease, towering snow drifts and deadly cold in small wooden huts they
constructed themselves. So you can imagine the joy and happiness
filled the ranks when General George Washington ordered a day off for
all the soldiers on March 17, 1780.
Washington was keenly aware that Ireland was going through a period of
political upheaval against Great Britain’s rule. His intent was
doubt to offer a public show of support to the Irish and to perhaps
portray feeling of solidarity with another country which may be on the
verge of a similar conflict for independence from the British
But whatever the reasons the General may have had, all the soldiers
cared about was that it was St. Patrick’s Day. And that day
then a similar celebratory virtue it carries now.
Whether the soldier was of Irish decent, of which there were quite a
few in the Continental ranks, or not from the Emerald Isle, March 17,
1780 must have been a wonderful day. After months of backbreaking
and hardship, they were allowed a true “holiday”. Over 200
later, Morristown is still
home to one of New Jersey’s biggest St.
Patrick’s Day parties. A parade and celebration of the town’s
Irish heritage is probably not all that different from the one that
took place here during that difficult winter of 1780.
|A CLASSIC IRISH-AMERICAN BAR
can still find Morristown’s rich colonial
history throughout its
many National Parks and historic sites. But there is no better
to find its Irish heritage than in one of its many taverns. And
“granddaddy” of Irish taverns in Morristown is undoubtedly the DUBLIN PUB
on Pine Street. What once was a small one room bar has, over the
years, expanded into the very definition of an Irish tavern in
America. Each room has its own terrific atmosphere and is filled
memorabilia and reminders of the Emerald Isle.
When I sat down at the bar I gravitated to the corner stool, which is
my usual want. My old friend John who has been a bartender there
some time now, told us we needed to move down. “That’s Mr.
seat, and he should be coming in any minute now”.
John explained to me that Mr. Murphy has been a favorite customer here
for years and for his birthday recently the owner decided to place a
plaque on his favorite stool to ensure the seat would always be his if
he wanted. I wondered what type of person this Mr. Murphy could
Could he be the proverbial high roller? Perhaps a former mayor or
wannabe dignitary? Well, to our delight we found Mr. Murphy
than all those choices. Perhaps he wasn’t a mayor, or a big shot,
he was what every town would love to have as a representative.
spoken and funny, Mr. Murphy is regarded at the Dublin Pub as Morristown’s best historian and
spokesman. He told us about the
how it has changed during his life and all about “the Pub," as he
referred to it.
Little remains of the colonial taverns that housed and entertained the
brave men of the Continental Army. All that remains is a few
and many legends. But thanks to places like the DUBLIN PUB and people
like Mr. Murphy, Morristown will have new
legends to be proud of.