When the Ballyshaners Chair, Kimberley Moore, asked John Brennan to be the Grand Marshall of the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Though Brennan is a resident of Ireland, he travels to and from Alexandria as the owner of the beloved Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar in Old Town, Alexandria. Under his leadership, this local business continues to make a significant impact on the Irish community in the local area.
An experienced restaurateur, having opened Uluru Outback Bar and Restaurant in Waterford, Ireland in 1998, Brennan was drawn to Old Town, Alexandria while searching for the perfect location to share a piece of his home with America. His dream took the form of a bar and restaurant at 112 King Street; a location that Brennan chose in 2004 based on the strong, local Celtic roots and, of course, the prime real estate.
Daniel O’Connell’s officially opened its doors in February of 2006 and has become a cultural pillar of the Alexandria food and beverage industry since then. Five of John and Margaret Brennan’s six children have worked there and their youngest will complete the family’s legacy upon his twenty-first birthday — truly dubbing O’Connell’s as a “family tradition.”
Since realizing his dream to bring a taste of the Irish culture to Old Town, Brennan has become a sponsor and financial contributor of The Ballyshaners — the non-profit organization that coordinates and manages the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town each year.
“The parade is important for Alexandria — not just for O’Connell’s (Irish Restaurant & Bar) and Murphy’s (Grand Irish Pub) — but for all of the businesses in the area. The parade must continue.”
- John Brennan
Brennan believes that the parade opens minds and makes members of the community curious about their own heritage, with a very large number of Americans being able to trace their roots back to Ireland. With a background in Civil Engineering and construction, he loves to discuss Irish influence on American architecture, including James Horban; the Irish architect from Brennan’s hometown, best known for designing the White House in Washington, D.C.
Recently, Brennan, family and staff celebrated O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar being named Best Medium Business of 2019 by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.