Irish Pub Owner Re-Creates Banshees Bar Using Film’s Set Pieces – The Hollywood Reporter

Luke MeeKathleen Mee Pat Igoe and Holly the donkey

Immersive cinema experiences are big business these days, with fans being invited, briefly, into the reconstructed worlds of Stranger Things, James Bond and other major titles. But few would put Martin McDonagh’s melancholic Irish comedy The Banshees of Inisherin as next in line. 

Enter Luke Mee, who has painstakingly rebuilt JJ Devine’s — the traditional pub where the friendship between Colin Farrell’s Padraic and Brendan Gleeson’s Colm goes sour — in the backyard of his own pub by using the original set. 

Having known about the production and even gone to visit the film’s fake bar during the shoot on the west Irish Island of Achill (where locals were reportedly upset when it was dismantled — reportedly because they had served beer at the end of each day), Mee had been intrigued by what had happened to it when everything wrapped and decided to track down the pieces. As it turns out, he didn’t have to look very far. His wife’s sister casually told him “over a cup of tea” that they’d been sitting for the past 18 months in her backyard thanks to her husband, who had worked as security on the film. Rather than see it all wind up in a landfill, he’d saved them and brought it all home.

Wanting rid of the “eyesore,” she told him he could take it for free, so he loaded them into trucks and drove the 180 km to in the small town of Kilkerrin, to his pub, Mee’s Bar, where over the course of several months’ worth of nights and weekends, he put it back together with help from friends (some of whom admitted their concerns that he was “going a bit crazy”).

Pretty much everything from the film set was still there — wooden beams for the roof, window panes and even pictures on the walls — but without a set of instructions he relied on images from the film. “We didn’t really know what was what, so we just had to watch the film, screenshot scenes and copy it,” he explains.

Unlike the original, Mee’s version of Devine’s has electricity and fully functioning beer pumps, which didn’t come into use until around 40 years after Banshees’ 1923 setting. Thankfully, Guinness owner Diageo provided the oldest taps they could find. The whole project was kept strictly secret — even Mee’s sister, who manages the main pub, “didn’t know what we were doing” — until it was unveiled in early June. “I honestly didn’t think it would have [drawn] much interest, but nevertheless it did.”

It’s fair to say the resurrected JJ Devine’s has generated a storm of interest, with visitors and tourists flocking from nearby Galway. (THR made a trip from the Galway Film Fleadh). “We’re not a tourist area, but people have come out of the way to visit us,” Mee says. Keeping the authenticity with Banshees, the pub even has its own “resident donkey” — Holly — owned by Mee’s Bar regular Martin Kilroy. 

With the pub up and running, the hope is to now attract the cast to give it their endorsement. Gleeson has reportedly expressed an interest (and would “love to see it,” Mee says) as has Pat Shortt, who plays the namesake landlord, JJ Devine. But the publican has his eyes on a much bigger star. 

Speaking to McDonagh during awards season earlier in the year, Taylor Swift expressed her love for the Banshees pub and said she would support any effort to reconstruct it. At the time, neither knew what Lee was building in his backyard, and he now has a special offer to entice the singer to Kilkerrin: “The first free drink is reserved for Taylor Swift.”

Banshees of Inisherin Pub

Mike Kelly, Martin Kilroy, Denny Connolly, Pat Diskin, Teresa Mannion, Pat Igoe, Grainne O’Gorman, Kathleen Mee, Luke Mee, Katelyn Mee and Holly the donkey at J.J. Devine’s Pub now on view at Mee’s Bar. (Courtesy of Luke Mee)

Courtesy of Subject

Banshees of Inisherin Pub

A view of the street in Kilkerrin, Ireland.

Courtesy of Subject

Banshees of Inisherin Pub

A view of the recreated pub. (Credit: Alex Ritman/The Hollywood Reporter)

Courtesy of Subject

This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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