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Nightlife

Mandalay Place’s Ri Ra imports Ireland with its furniture and its feel

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Ri Ra offers a little bit of Emerald Isle history.
Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

Guinness, Jameson and fiddle-heavy music. Yes, these are all components of the typical Irish pub, and you can find them at many such venues in Las Vegas. But what exactly authenticates the Irish pub experience? What takes it from a desert imitation to something a bit more genuine?

The Details

Rí Rá
Inside Mandalay Place
632-7771
Mon-Thu, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Fri, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Sat, 9 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Sun, 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Beyond the Weekly
Rí Rá Las Vegas

Mandalay Place’s Rí Rá, opening on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), of course, answers that question. Owner Irishman Ciaran Sheehan says many Irish pubs fail to capture the essence of the Emerald Isle. Rí Rá Las Vegas hopes to defy this norm with genuine Irish furnishings, authentic fare and the help of a few special guests.

Las Vegas might be some 5,000 miles from Sheehan’s homeland, but Rí Rá’s first location west of the Mississippi River is straight out of a Dublin postcard. Many of the pub’s fixtures were salvaged from Irish buildings, some dating back to the 19th century. The first bar you see inside was built in 1910 and survived the fires of the Irish Civil War. It formerly stood in Foley’s—a pub in West Cork, Ireland—but if sidling up to a piece of history doesn’t impress you, perhaps enjoying a Guinness at the dining-room bar that may have once hosted James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw might. It’s rumored those celebrated Irish authors all visited the bar at the famed Olympia Theater in Dublin, one of two concert halls from which the dining room’s fixtures were recovered.

This plastered St. Patrick wants you to get plastered...with a Guinness.

This plastered St. Patrick wants you to get plastered...with a Guinness.

About that Guinness—Sheehan says his bar will pour the best pint in town, chilled to a cool 40 degrees. Rí Rá will feature 16 other beers on tap and a selection of 85 brews by the bottle. If you don’t know what to order, featured flights from the beer menu and the extensive whiskey collection—about 140 strong, including around 40 Irish whiskeys and 15 exclusive to Rí Rá Las Vegas—should help you find a new favorite.

Just as Irish authenticity is apparent in the décor, it’s present in its employees. Sheehan has flown in an “exchange staff” of 17 natives of Ireland to man the expansive, four-room venue. Bands selected to entertain will also be flown in from Ireland for three-week stays. “We’d like to be the word-of-mouth venue,” Sheehan says.

With all this Irish-ness going on, Rí Rá will be the definitive hot spot for its grand opening this St. Paddy’s Day, but with its cozy, inviting atmosphere and fantastic beverage selection, it could remain a lucky hangout well beyond March 17.

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Mark Adams joined the Las Vegas Weekly in 2010 and now serves as the magazine’s web editor. You can also ...

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