The only thing I knew about Fionn MacCool’s is that it’s an Irish pub and that it’s located at The Jacksonville Landing. My stomach growled as I thought to myself: Shepherd’s pie? Fish and chips? Bangers and mash? Walking into the Irish pub, I was transported into another world – that feeling you get when you go to Harry Potter world in Universal Studios or Medieval Times. The front entrance has huge – deep clover green walls and a Game-of-Thrones-castle-like door that looks like it could hold off a small army. A waiter walks by me holding plates of food, wearing a kilt and that little brown leather satchel in front. I would learn later that it’s actually called a sporran. It’s like a hip pack, because kilts are pocketless. Irish music blasting, bagpipes and all, I see a large family eating at a long table, and I picture kings and queens feasting and slamming their beer and wine down as they indulge. The atmosphere really paints a picture.
I sat down with owner Patty Trousdell to get the inside scoop on this Irish pub and restaurant. Fionn MacCool’s started as Patty’s younger sister Amy McNaulty’s dream. When they were growing up, they looked up to their grandfather, who was a pub hopper. At the time, they didn’t know what a pub was, but they fell in love with all things Irish. When she got the chance to start her own business, Amy dove in head first. She went straight to Ireland to go to school to learn how to open an Irish pub. In May of 2005 she hired a company from Ireland to build the first Fionn MacCool’s at Jacksonville Beach. Then, in early 2011, The Jacksonville Landing approached them to open a downtown location.
The Landing is kind of in a world of its own. It exists almost like a bubble floating on the waterfront downtown. Surprisingly, the majority of Patty’s and Amy’s customers come from tourism, conventions, business travelers as well as event patrons from The Times Union Center.
Fionn MacCool’s has traditional Irish dishes like the Scotch egg, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie. A typical shepherd’s pie is a lamb stew mixture baked with whipped potatoes piled on top. Fionn MacCool’s stuffs their pie filling into a puff pastry, and then it’s baked. Another traditional Irish dish is the boxty. A boxty is a grilled potato pancake that is typically stuffed with a filling such as corned beef, chicken, or shrimp. It’s like a crepe. One of the most popular menu items is the Reuben spring rolls. Slow-roasted tender corned beef made in-house, with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, all wrapped in a spring roll and deep fried. Thousand Island dressing is served on the side. It’s the perfect finger food to eat with beer, and they come overstuffed with corned beef. They also have a homemade whiskey cake on the menu. This was inspired by their current chef’s great grandmother’s rum cake recipe, only made with whiskey instead of rum.
Fionn MacCool’s is a portal that takes you straight to Ireland. Try the Reuben spring rolls, grab a beer, and enjoy the riverfront view. Brace yourself: St. Patrick’s Day is coming.
You can find them online at fionnmacs.com or give them a call at (904) 374-1547.