Irish Embassy pub to be closed for 6 months after fire

Owners of the Irish Embassy pub, a Bishop Street landmark, are taking stock of the damage caused by a fire last month.

Roof being taken off Tuesday, building to be gutted after sustaining heavy water damage

Irish Embassy partner Paul Quinn tours the fire and water-damaged pub before the roof is taken off Tuesday and the building undergoes extreme renovations. (CBC)

Owners of the Irish Embassy pub, a Bishop Street landmark, are hopeful they will be able to re-open in six months — or at least by next St. Patrick's Day. 

The bar was gutted by a five-alarm fire that broke out in a room above the pub on March 24. More than 100 firefighters battled the flames.

Joe Cannon, the bar's general manager, said the team knew the bar was "gone" when they got the call about the fire, and he saw the amount of water firefighters had used to put it out. 

Management has been told by their insurance that it will be six months before work on the building is complete.

"They've told me, 'Don't worry Paul, tell your staff not to worry, we're going to get this job done,'" Irish Embassy partner Paul Quinn said.

Even if the six-month timeline is optimistic, Quinn hopes the bar will at least be back by next Saint-Patrick's Day.

He became emotional inside the ravaged building as he took CBC on a tour of it Monday.

Firefighters say it may be several hours before the flames are out completely. (Stephane Gregoire/Radio-Canada)

But an outpouring of support from Montreal's tightly-knit Irish community and other pubs in area has helped, he said. 

More than 20 bars have hired Irish Embassy staff while the pub remains closed.  

The fire came at the end of a difficult winter for his business. The construction work that has closed off a portion of Bishop Street made things especially tough, Cannon said.

"Even though business was tough, we were happy," Quinn added.

The roof will be coming off the building Tuesday and the interior will be stripped. The work to be done will be around the building's current architectural features, like a fireplace from the 1880s.   

Comedyworks also undergoing repairs

The Irish Embassy pub isn't the only establishment to sustain damage in the fire.

Its neighbour, Comedyworks, has been closed since the fire and moved its shows to nearby McLean's Pub on Peel Street for the foreseeable future.

The Saturday shows, called Burnin Down the House, have already brought out big names in comedy, like Sugar Sammy.

According to Sugar Sammy's spokesperson, the show was a good opportunity to try out new material.

"He likes the Comedyworks so it made sense," Leisa Lee said.

With files from Simon Nakonechny