(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The first thing you notice when walking into the rebuilt Ireland’s Four Courts — which is officially reopening today, at long last — is that it’s both familiar and new at the same time.
The interior is a bit brighter and more open — the crash that smashed and torched the long-time Courthouse watering hole last summer revealed to the owners that the columns near the front were decorative, not structural.
The predominant color scheme is now teal instead of red. The mugs that used to hang behind the bar are gone — the heat from the fire melted them, leaving just handles hanging from the peg board. Additionally, the back room is now more inviting for patrons and private events, with a library and an upgraded second bar.
On the other hand, the general layout is the same. And you’ll notice touches that were salvaged from the old Four Courts: the handmade-in-Ireland tables have a fresh coat of paint and varnish, the soccer jersey that miraculously survived the flames, the antique Irish fireplace that needed 30 hours or restoration work, the Men of Aran sculpture, and a few other items.
Four Courts would have probably needed an interior refresh at some point this decade, but this was not the way managing partner Dave Cahill and other owners wanted it to happen.
When the rideshare driver who was suffering an apparent medical emergency slammed into the pub on Aug. 12, 2022, a group of coworkers were marking an occasion together near the front. They never saw the car barrelling toward them.
The 14 people who were injured, including the three critically hurt from that group — who spent an extended period of time in the hospital — were honored during a private event at the pub Wednesday evening.
The Arlington first responders who rushed to the scene and — along with fellow patrons — helped to pull the injured out of the building just as the inferno started spreading were also honored at the event. Without them, according to Cahill, multiple people would have died and Four Courts would never have reopened.
That everyone survived is its own miracle. The force of the impact was such that a patron sitting at the bar, well away from where the car came to rest, with the dazed driver and rideshare passenger inside, was blown off of his barstool.
Ahead of their reopening, @irelands4courts honored ACPD, @ArlingtonVaFD and community members who provided critical assistance and care following the vehicle crash into the building on August 12, 2022. Plaques recognizing their heroism are displayed in the restaurant. pic.twitter.com/dasmvjid6g
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 7, 2023
@irelands4courts Dave Cahill paying some much deserved tribute to @ArlingtonVaPD and @ArlingtonVaFD who acted so bravely & professionally on 8/12/22. Saved lives. #heoricism #I4C is back in business! #slainte #craic pic.twitter.com/LlAemvaYFc
— Don Holmes (@DonnyHolmes) September 6, 2023
After eight months of a complete interior demolition and reconstruction — and despite some work left to be done with the exterior facade — Four Courts will reopen to the public at 4 p.m.
There will be live music today, Friday and Saturday. And as before, those hoping to catch some sports from across the pond can expect a 9 a.m. opening time on Saturday.
For Cahill and others who witnessed the crash and its aftermath, memories of the horror of that day are still fresh. But for now he’s focusing on the reopening, which is also a homecoming for Four Courts’ legion of displaced regulars.
“I am feeling a huge relief to be at the finish line and a great of excitement to open the doors and see all the familiar face again,” Cahill told ARLnow. “Four Courts is a home and away from home for so many of our customers and we are excited to welcome them back. It’s like having my birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas Day all at once. We can not wait!”
A large explosion, heard throughout Arlington, has rocked the Bluemont neighborhood after a police standoff.
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