34 Van Dyke St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Open 11a Daily
Transportation: A,C,F to Jay St/Borough Hall—then Bus B61 to Red Hook or F,G to Carroll St—then, $6 Cab
Written by: Bill Nevins
Rocky Sullivan’s is an authentic Irish pub, whose bartenders know “how to pour a real Irish pint!” Celtic-spirited folks, off duty police officers, artists, movie actors, Irish visitors and folks with left-leaning politics all favor Rocky’s, resulting in an interesting social and cultural mix. The juke box is an eclectic joy and the live music shows are varied. You’re as likely to hear the Unity Squad playing there as traditional fiddle music or old style Irish sean nós singing.
The entertainment also includes regular quiz and comedy nights, darts tournaments, open mics and readings; giving Rocky’s a fun feel and a literary flare that is lacking in other “Irish-themed” establishments.
There’s also fresh Sixpoint Ale, brewed right next door, brick-oven pizza, frequent fresh-lobster dinners and a wonderful deck on the roof of Rocky’s, where patrons can enjoy a view of the waterfront and the lower Manhattan skyline.
Chris Byrne and Derek Curtis established their new Brooklyn location after sky rocketing rent hikes forced them to leave the midtown Manhattan location, which had been an anomalous and beloved fixture since 1996. Many the midtowner’s heart was broken when Rocky’s shut down, but since then plenty of patrons have navigated the rather challenging, but interesting route to the new cobble-stoned, art gallery-friendly Red Hook—by subway and bus, car, cab, or the free water taxi from Wall Street in Manhattan.
Brooklyn-born Chris “Seanchai” Byrne (pronounced shan-a-kee, Gaelic for “story teller”) was for a decade the bagpipe, tin whistle and Irish bodhran-drum wielding front man and rapper for that Celtic band, the Irish-flavored punk-reggae-hip hop aggregation Black 47. Black 47 had an MTV hit with “Funky Ceilidh,” toured America and Ireland, made the cover of Time and played in films and on late night talk shows. Chris left the group amicably in the early 2000s, preferring to concentrate on his own musical career with Seanchai and the Unity Squad, the Irish trad/hip hop/rock act that he leads with his partner, Rachel Fitzgerald.
And here comes the curve-ball: Chris also spent ten years as a member of the NYPD. “I was more radical than many of the people who would see me on the street,” recalls Chris, “But I doubt they knew that.” It’s a tribute to Chris’s skills as a pub keeper and to the comfortable atmosphere at Rocky’s that everyone somehow gets along.