Waxy’s Irish Pub is turning 21

ILT’s iconic Irish pub is celebrating 21 years of business on Saturday 17 December.

A birthday party is planned to mark the occasion with past managers, staff and the wider community invited to join the festivities and share memories from the past two decades. 

Waxy O’Sheas Irish Pub was Invercargill’s first and only Irish pub, its opening in December 2001 was eagerly anticipated by local residents.

Long-serving ILT manager Bryan Townley was the person in charge of launching ILT’s newest addition to the bar scene in 2001.

Mr Townley remembers opening day fondly.

“We opened the doors to queues of people waiting to come and check out this bar that was reminiscent of the pub scene in Dublin. There was nothing else like Waxy’s around at the time”, he said.

“It was great fun to be part of, especially on St Patrick’s Day.  People would come for the live music, the wonderful food, great conversation and, of course, a pint of Guinness”, said Mr Townley.

The original design was based on an authentic Irish pub, its features included a mezzanine floor area, cathedral bar, private snug, open fireplace, pulpit and the confessional booth which can still be found today.

The layout was ahead of its time with no dedicated dining area, this was typical of pubs in Ireland but a first for Invercargill.

ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay said reaching this milestone was a credit to all the managers and staff who have worked hard over the years.

“When Waxy’s opened it exceeded all expectations and it continues to go from strength to strength, adapting to an ever-changing environment”, he said.

 “The one thing that hasn’t changed over time is the convivial atmosphere and friendly nature of the team. They are the epitome of manaakitanga and the reason Waxy’s has been so popular over the years’’.

“It’s a privilege to be able to share this occasion with the team, both past and present, but also with the community who have been very supportive over the years. It’s thanks to their patronage that we are celebrating 21 years’’, said Mr Ramsay.  

In 2017, Waxy’s underwent a half a million dollar refurbishment that saw a shift in name to Waxy’s Irish Pub and included the addition of booths, a whiskey room, a facelift to the interior décor and a number of operational improvements. The authentic features, such as the pressed ceiling and cathedral bar, were retained along with its genuine atmosphere.

Matt O’Donnell, the current Manager has been at the helm for just over three months.

“I’m looking forward to carrying on the legacy of this great pub. It is an Invercargill institution that has something for everyone”, said Mr O’Donnell.

“The upcoming birthday celebrations are going to be one to remember. In typical Waxy’s fashion we’ve got a fun filled day planned to celebrate Waxy’s and all things Irish”, he said. Waxy’s 21st Birthday celebrations are on Saturday 17 December 2022, from 4.30pm and are open to everyone. For more details visit their Facebook page.