In this June 2015 file photo, Steven Priestley touches up a Guinness mural on the side of the Brian Boru Public House in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Almost two years after closing its doors, the iconic Brian Boru Public House building in Portland may be demolished, the Portland Press Herald reported Monday.

The iconic Irish eatery in the Old Port shut its doors in 2019 before being purchased by MEMIC, a mutual insurance company, according to the Press Herald. On June 2, MEMIC applied for a demolition permit, and city officials told the newspaper they are awaiting additional information before approving it.

The pub, known for its live music and libations, was open for 25 years before announcing its closure.

Housed in a vibrant red brick building, the eatery served as an unofficial landmark in a city that has seen the effects of gentrification infringe upon old-school restaurants. Brian Boru’s closing came just as three other popular Portland restaurants announced plans to close, including Lolita on Munjoy Hill, Scattoloni Bakery in Monument Square and Silly’s in East Bayside.

The problem wasn’t a lack of customers. Instead, restaurant owners likely suffered from fatigue due to a shifting food scene in the city and high costs of living, which partially caused a restaurant worker shortage.

“It’s hard to see something you put your heart, your mind and your money into — and done well — just torn down,” Daniel Steele, the pub’s former owner, told the Press Herald. “It would be heartbreaking to see.”

The Brian Boru building is one of several properties bought by MEMIC in the area in the past decade, according to the newspaper.

Despite dating back to the 1800s, the building does not have historic protections, according to the Press Herald.

Matt Berg

Matt is a senior at UMass Amherst, studying journalism and history. Before joining the Bangor Daily News, he was the managing editor of his student newspaper and interned at the Boston Globe.