NAUGATUCK — For the Naugatuck Ancient Order of Hibernians, the organization’s new pub isn’t just a place to grab a drink. It is a place to call home.
For years, the Naugatuck Ancient Order of Hibernians used whatever buildings were available to hold its meetings, including St. Francis Church and American Legion Post 17. That changed when the organization opened the Naugatuck AOH Pub at 104 Water St. The grand opening was in June.
“We wanted a place that was our own and we could meet. But to afford that we had to open something to the public and show off our heritage to all of the people,” Naugatuck AOH President Jim Goggin said.
Goggin, who is the borough’s tax collector, said the Hibernians opened the pub at the former Duffy’s Tavern with the help of Richard Smith, who owns the building and is also a member of the Hibernians.
The pub gives the Hibernians, who perform community service like cooking lunch for the Naugatuck Senior Center weekly and holding corned beef dinner fundraisers, a home base to work out of, Goggin said.
Naugatuck AOH Vice President Kevin Knowles said the organization wanted somewhere to put down roots.
“We wanted a place of our own. A place that wouldn’t just be a clubhouse or lodge for our members, but a hub of activities,” Knowles said.
Goggin emphasized that the pub is open to the public and not just members of the Naugatuck AOH.
“It’s where the Hibernians meet once a month and everyone else meets every day,” Goggin said.
In addition to giving the Hibernians a place to call home, the pub allows the organization to show off what it does to potential members.
Knowles said the organization’s membership has more than doubled over the past few years to over 100 members. He expects the pub will help drum up more interest in the organization.
“It is a place that draws people in. It has that effect,” Knowles said.
The pub has a full staff of waiters and bartenders. However, it’s not uncommon to see Goggin himself behind the bar, pouring beer. Goggin’s wife, Susan, and their daughter, Rachel, also work at the pub on occasion. Rachel Goggin is the permittee.
“It is a nice, friendly neighborhood bar that is family owned and operated,” Goggin said.
The pub hosts musicians on the weekends, Goggin said. The rest of the time, the music is turned down to encourage conversation between patrons, he said.
“The music is always low and the conversation is always plentiful,” Goggin said.
In addition to a variety of alcohol, the pub offers food, including what Goggin insists is the best corned beef in the state.
Goggin said he has been cooking corned beef dinners for fundraisers for the Hibernians for decades.
“I have over 30 years of experience cooking corned beef. So you know it is going to be good,” Goggin said.