Jilly Mehlman

Anna Liffey’s, the Irish pub on Whitney Avenue, has closed indefinitely after 20 years in operation.

The pub, which was founded in 1997 by Patrick Mansfield, was a cornerstone of New Haven nightlife, often hosting trivia nights, sports-watching parties, comedy acts and local bands among other community and Yale-affiliated acts and events. Among Yale students, the bar was especially popular with residents of Timothy Dwight and Silliman colleges.

Mansfield closed the bar because the landlord wanted to sell the building, according to bartender and general manager Christopher Lis who added that the landlord continually asked Mansfield to “fix things a tenant shouldn’t fix.” In total, the repairs amounted to an estimated $80,000, Lis said.

In light of Anna Liffey’s closing, disappointed Yale students and New Haven residents have reflected on their fond memories of the Irish pub.

“Liffey’s always just felt like home,” said Jenny Bean, a customer since 1998. “The friends I met there became family. We all grew into adulthood together. If someone passed away, if someone got a new job, that’s where we’d go to celebrate and be together.”

The bar always drew a diverse crowd, Lis said, from within Yale and from without. Fraternities, secret societies, lawyers, prosecutors and New Haven locals were among the regular clientale, he said.

While Lis said he could not choose just one favorite memory of the bar, he reminisced about Liffey’s St. Patrick’s Day events and its fundraiser event for the New Haven Animal Shelter, as well as getting the bar to cheer on new customers who had never drank an Irish “car bomb” — Guinness poured half-way with a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s. In addition, he enjoyed working for Mansfield who he said helped anyone who needed a job find one, even if it was just cleaning up the pub.

European tourists in particular loved the basement-like feel of the pub, said Lis, who added that many Europeans would walk down the Liffey’s stairs to see photos of regular customers on the walls or write on a dollar bill and stick it to the ceiling.

Alice Tao ’20, who helped organize last year’s TD Screw at Liffey’s, said the pub’s food and small size made the screw an intimate experience, perfect for TD’s tight-knit community.

“It had a really fun, local vibe,” said Maraya Keny-Guyer ’19, who attended multiple TD dance nights at the bar. “I know a couple of TDers used to go every Tuesday for trivia and absolutely loved it. It was a pretty special place for TD. I think we had four or five consecutive dances there.”

The TD community is sad to see the pub close, said Keny-Guyer who added that she was looking forward to getting drinks there on her 21st birthday.

Still, the fond memories live on.

“I made lifelong friends at Anna Liffey’s. I have had friends meet their spouses there. I have had nights where I danced until my feet hurt,” said Amanda DiGioia who used to work the corned beef station at Liffey’s St. Patrick Day Parade. “It is really apt that Anna Liffey’s was named after a river, because all of us in the old days flowed through there.”

The pub’s Fairfield location closed in June.

Kiddest Sinke | kiddest.sinke@yale.edu