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Fire destroys Glenwood South landmark

Posted December 26, 2012
Updated December 27, 2012

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— A popular downtown bar was destroyed Wednesday morning after flames ripped through the one-story building in Raleigh's Glenwood South district.

Hibernian Pub fire Hibernian Pub fire

Crews were called to put out what was initially reported as a grease fire at Hibernian Pub, at 311 Glenwood Ave., at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to nearby businesses, which were expected to stay closed Wednesday to be assessed for damage. Some did suffer minor damage, such as broken windows.

Glenwood Avenue was blocked Wednesday night, but reopened Thursday morning.

Although a preliminary investigation found the fire was accidental, fire officials said they are not finished with their investigation.

Employees, they said, turned on the fryers Wednesday morning, walked away briefly and then returned to flames.

Although there was no sprinkler system in the building, fire investigators said a fire suppression system in the kitchen put out the fire. By that time, however, it had spread to the walls and ceiling.

The three workers inside were able to escape without injury.

Chris Jepsen, who lives near the pub, was in his apartment when he smelled smoke shortly before 11 a.m.

"I thought it was my place, so I immediately went outside, and it was like fog," he said. "You couldn't even see across the street. As the breeze blew and it cleared, I could see plumes of smoke coming from the Hibernian."

Debra Geer also lives nearby.

"I was sick when I drove home from work and saw that the building was just totally demolished," she said. "It just made me sick."

Hibernian Pub owner Niall Hanley said he was "heartbroken" by the fire and plans to rebuild.

Owner, customers 'heartbroken' by Hibernian fire Owner, customers 'heartbroken' by Hibernian fire

According to its Facebook page, Hibernian opened in downtown Raleigh in May 2000, becoming an anchor for Glenwood South's economic revival.

"I've been looking at this place forever," Jepsen said. "It was like the first landmark on Glenwood South."

"I can tell you right now that even the employees, many have been here since it opened," said former Hibernian employee Jennifer Leshney. "I'm pretty sure a piece of their heart is missing. It's going to be a piece of downtown missing."

Alex Amra, who owns Tobacco Road, across the street from the pub, said the fire now leaves a black mark for all businesses, which support and complement each other.

"My clientele stumbles their way to the Hibernian, and the Hibernian clientele stumbles their way over to Tobacco Road," he said. "Yeah, we're all in competition, absolutely, but on a need basis. We all need each other."

Although there is a Hibernian in Cary and another expected to open on Falls of Neuse Road in north Raleigh, customers, like Jepsen, say the Glenwood location drew in regulars, who are like family.

"It's a friendly atmosphere. It's a friendly neighborhood and a sad day, in that regard," Jepsen said. "My prayers will be with them, and I hope things will get better in our new year."

"I have many friends who come here three or four nights a week. It has built a rapport of regulars," Leshney said. "It's a home for so many people."

Leshney has started a Facebook page, called "Team Hibernian Nation," in support of the pub.

53 Comments

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  • NotFromHere Dec 27, 1:23 p.m.

    Please come to the one in Cary. I've been to both and the menu is the same and I'm sure the beer is too. We would love to have your business and tax dollars in Cary.

  • bubbba Dec 27, 12:58 p.m.

    I worked on Peace St. for 28 years and must have drove by that place at least a 1000 times. Never felt the need to go in or use it for directions. It was just a bar, absolutely nothing else. Sorry it burned for the owner and the patrons, neither of whom I know.

  • GravyPig Dec 27, 12:50 p.m.

    "It IS a landmark on Glenwood South, which is exactly what the article says. It may not be a Raleigh Landmark, but when you think of the Glenwood South area... my mind always goes to the Hibernian."

    Guess we'll have to agree to disagree. When I think of "Glenwood South" I think of the old Pine State building. I guess if I spent time at one particular place in Glenwood South, I would immediately associate the area with that business.

    Truly, we could go round and round on this all day long, so I'm just going to drop it. They'll rebuild and then you can go back there and create some more good memories.

  • GravyPig Dec 27, 12:29 p.m.

    "Actually I have used the place as a landmark. You couldn't miss the building so it was easy to tell someone to turn there to cut over to Boylan if they were not from the area."

    Well, the Peace Street Market is across from a Mcdonalds. If I give someone directions and refer to the McD does that now make it a landmark?

    "Those of us saying it's not a landmark aren't hatin' on the Hibernian. I love me some McDonald's but the one I frequent is NOT a landmark no matter how much I love it. A better headline would be "Popular Raleigh restaurant destroyed by fire." No one could take exception to that."

    Exactly. No one is trying to dump on the Hibernian but to call it a landmark isn't really right.

    "REBUILD!!"

    Read the article. They are. They would be fools not to.

  • GravyPig Dec 27, 12:22 p.m.

    "Hibernian. Tir Na nog. Naper Tandy's. Trali. O'Malley's. Saint's and Scholars. How many Irish pubs does Raleigh need? Can't we get a little creativity going? A Russian Restaurant? A Scottish Pub? These things exist in the world, just not in Raleigh."

    Well, the Irish pubs seem to be popular, and succesfull. When you have something that the public wants, they tend to frequent it. NewsMonkey makes it sound like he actually lives there as much as he frequents it. (I think his kids might have even been concieved there)

    It's nice to have a regular spot like that.

  • beachinit Dec 27, 12:21 p.m.

    It IS a landmark on Glenwood South, which is exactly what the article says. It may not be a Raleigh Landmark, but when you think of the Glenwood South area... my mind always goes to the Hibernian. We've never had a bad experience there, and always felt welcomed. It's a great bar for adults, versus the other places that are inundated with college kids.

  • kikinc Dec 27, 12:20 p.m.

    Hey tab, ever hear of sentimental value? The pub where I met my now husband closed last year, and I felt a great deal of sadness when it did. We met there, celebrated birthdays and milestones there, even celebrated our engagement there! The regulars were like a second family to us, throwing showers, and birthday parties, and what not. I'm sorry you've never had that experience, but it's absolutely wonderful.

  • baldchip Dec 27, 12:06 p.m.

    REBUILD!!

  • tab580642 Dec 27, 12:06 p.m.

    I can't believe how emotional people are about a bar that had no ownership in it or wasn't an employee. What's more ridiculous is that someone is trying to raise money to help rebuild the place. Isn't that what insurance is for??? It's not that serious folks.....media included!!

  • kimisufu Dec 27, 11:39 a.m.

    Those of us saying it's not a landmark aren't hatin' on the Hibernian. I love me some McDonald's but the one I frequent is NOT a landmark no matter how much I love it. A better headline would be "Popular Raleigh restaurant destroyed by fire." No one could take exception to that.

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