Evolution of a Brisbane pub: The Shamrock Hotel, Fortitude Valley

Shamrock Hotel, Fortitude Valley (left), about 1915. Picture: State Library of Queensland.

The former Shamrock Hotel, at Brunswick and Leichhardt Street, Fortitude Valley, was established in 1862 by 64-year-old Irishman James Donovan.

The Shamrock was first licensed on May 15 and opened for business on July 1 1862. The inn contained four sitting rooms and eight bedrooms, and was hosted by Donovan, his wife, Mary, and their nine children.

Donovan and his family arrived from Ireland to Australia aboard the Monsoona in 1834, and almost immediately settled in Fortitude Valley1.

Previously Donovan was publican at the Lamb Inn (Harvey’s) at Fortitude Valley before going onto hosting the Shamrock for over a decade, until his death after a short illness in 1874 at the age of 76.

Donovan’s widow, Mary took-over as host for a short period of time, before her daughter, Mary inherited the pub freehold and took the license during the late 1870s and 1880s. She would host the pub for well-over a decade, except for a period in the early 1880s when she leased it to Timothy O’Sullivan.

Mary, who never married, had the old hotel entirely rebuilt in 18922, before retiring as host in 18943. She died in 1925 at the age of 834.

The building was extensively remodelled in the 1950s and again in the early 21st century.

The Shamrock Hotel has had many reincarnations over recent decades, and currently trades as “Netherworld” – Brisbane’s first arcade game and craft beer bar.

The large Fortitude Valley venue, formerly the Step Inn, is split into three sections. The heritage-listed public bar at the front features retro green tiling and a long, curved bar bench. Out the back, arcade machines are lined up against an exposed brick wall. Through another doorway is Hellmouth Diner, fitted out with street art, barbeque benches and fairy lights. In total, there are 25 arcade machines, 15 pinball machines, five classic consoles and more than 100 board games.

– broadsheet.com.au, January 31, 2017

ONE of the chocks of the front portion of the jinker gave way, and caused the log to roll and capsize the front portion of the jinker. The log was being cartered to a wheelworks in Brunswick Street, and capsized in front of the Shamrock Hotel, at the corner of Leichhardt and Brunswick Streets on Monday morning.

– Daily Brisbane Standard, Tuesday, May 4, 1926

Netherworld 2 google
How the former Shamrock Hotel looked in 2017 at Fortitude Valley. Now operating as Netherworld Bar. Picture: Google Streetview


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1. Brisbane Courier, May 19, 1925

2. Brisbane Courier, May 5, 1892

3. Brisbane Courier, February 8, 1894

4. Brisbane Courier, May 19, 1925

Categories: Brisbane hotels, Queensland hotels

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