Michael Conlon, part owner of the Blarney Stone pub

Michael G. Conlon ran the Blarney Stone for 35 years in the Fields Corner neighborhood. Michael G. Conlon ran the Blarney Stone for 35 years in the Fields Corner neighborhood.
By J.M. Lawrence
Globe Correspondent / January 10, 2011

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When Irish immigrants came to Boston in recent decades, their first stop was often Michael G. Conlon’s Dorchester pub the Blarney Stone.

Mr. Conlon, who launched the Blarney Stone with two partners in 1965 and poured the first pints of Guinness served in Boston, was an Irish immigrant himself, from County Mayo.

For 35 years “Mike’’ ran the pub in the Fields Corner neighborhood, always wearing a shirt and tie with his white apron. He would bring coffee for the early-shift waitresses and close the bar with a clap of his hands and the barroom benediction: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.’’

Many new Irish would go from Logan Airport straight to the Blarney Stone, according to Mr. Conlon’s family. “You’d get in, put your luggage downstairs, get a couple pints of Guinness, and get a job,’’ his son Michael Jr. said.

Mr. Conlon, a longtime resident of Brighton, died Thursday at St. Patrick’s Manor in Framingham from complications of Alzheimer’s. He was 89.

“He was a great little man,’’ said retired waitress Ann Fairweather, who worked at the Dorchester Avenue spot for 55 years. “I never felt like he was my boss. He was my friend.’’

Fairweather, 93, who is almost 6 feet tall and towered over Mr. Conlon and most customers, came with the bar when Mr. Conlon bought it. He kept her on staff until he and his partners sold the Blarney Stone in 2000 to Mr. Conlon’s children.

Michael Jr., who runs the Eat Laugh Drink Restaurant Group, said his father was the consummate hospitality professional. “He was quiet, hardworking, and kind,’’ Michael said.

“At first, he really didn’t want me going into the business he went into because he saw how tough it was,’’ said Michael, whose restaurant group now includes three other restaurant-bars, including the 21st Amendment on Beacon Hill.

Born in Swinford, Mr. Conlon grew up on his family’s farm. After immigrating, he worked in a relative’s bar in Cambridge for several years while saving money to open his own place.

He met the woman he would wed, Mary (O’Rourke), who also had emigrated from Ireland, during dances at local halls in Dorchester.

“The Irish always got together down around Dudley Street,’’ Mary said. They were married 53 years.

She recalled the Dorchester Avenue bar’s early days, when busloads of customers came from Connecticut to drink Guinness for 40 cents a pint. In the first 30 days after winning exclusive rights to sell Guinness, the bar sold 69 kegs.

“He built it up very well,’’ Mary said of her husband’s venture with his partners Arthur English and Pat Hegarty.

“Mike was a nice man, a hard worker,’’ said Hegarty, 85, of Brighton. “We did all right.’’

When Mr. Conlon’s children renovated the bar 10 years ago, they replaced the mural of Ireland with more luxe décor and put Thai lettuce wraps and tiramisu on the menu. They worried that Mr. Conlon might be upset with the changes.

“We thought it might be difficult for him, but he rose to the challenge,’’ said his daughter Eleanor Greene.

In addition to his wife, son Michael of Boston and daughter Eleanor of Jamaica Plain, Mr. Conlon leaves his son Daniel P. of New York; six grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

A funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Columbkille Church in Brighton. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury.

J.M. Lawrence can be reached at

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