Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
Gillian Fitzgerald was born in Hospital (a town in Ireland).
In Part 1, the owner of Casements Bar in the Mission traces her lineage back to when her Irish parents met. The family moved from County Limerick in the southwest to County Meade, just north of Dublin. That is where Gillian did most of her growing up, smalltown stories she shares in this episode.
In addition to playing many sports, Gillian also had her own horse: Flash Gordon. She tells us a wild story about Flash that you really have to hear to believe.
After talking about her time in high school and college, which brought her to Dublin, she ends this episode with some of the family bars and pubs she worked in as a young adult back in Ireland.
In Part 2, Gillian talks about some bartending jobs she had while she went to college. After she graduated, she took up an offer to go to the Dominican Republic. What started off as a trip turned into four years on the island.
Next came her move to The City in 2005. Gillian shares some of her first impressions of San Francisco, contrasting those with ideas she had formed mostly from TV and movies growing up. Upon moving here, she immediately fell in love with the "artists and dreamers" she was lucky enough to meet.
Then Gillian shares the story of opening Casements. She met her eventual business partner, Séan O'Donovan, when they both worked at Nickie's in the Lower Haight. The two often talked about opening their own place back in the day. Gillian left Nickie's to help open Virgil's on Mission about 10 years ago, and she left Virgil's to go into business with a friend making Bloody Mary mix. She then helped Wes of Wesburger and also helped open a few other bars around town, but she always held onto the idea of opening her own Irish bar.
After getting support from Séan and another bar owner, Gillian asked the owners of Gas Light if they would sell. They did, and Séan and Gillian got the keys in early November 2019. They had a soft opening and ran for a couple of months, having their official opening on Jan. 19, 2020. Six weeks or so later, COVID-19 hit and they had to shut down.
Now that we're on Lockdown 2.0, Casements is offering food and drink for pick-up every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Please support this rad indy bar and help it ride out this storm so that it can open on the other side of the madness.
We recorded this podcast at Casements Bar in the Mission in December 2020.