Project Type: Commercial Hospitality
Project Timeframe: 1991
Architects: Collina Design
Molly Malones, on the corner of Courtenay Place and Taranaki Street, was Wellington’s first Irish pub. It was highly successful and is often credited with revitalising the city’s entertainment centre, Courtenay Place, an area then languishing after the 1987 sharemarket crash.
The McGuinness brothers bought Molly’s in December 1990. It was then known as the Clarendon Hotel and was badly run down. The hotel closed for six months for earthquake strengthening and refurbishment, drawing on skills the firm had acquired from upgrading other well-known Wellington hotels such as the Backbencher Tavern and Southern Cross.
On opening, the hotel caught an Irish renaissance as interest stirred in Irish music, culture and heritage. Guinness on tap was a first, and Irish staff and bands were hired. The first St Patricks Day at Molly’s was so big it was televised on TV1 and TV3.
The upstairs bar, with its floor to ceiling windows, became known as the Dubliner Restaurant and Whiskey Bar. Over time, a third floor private function room called the Blarney Stone was opened and balconies added to the first level.
Molly’s also sparked a resurgence of St Patrick’s Day parades in the capital. Featuring up to 50 floats, the parades became the culmination of week-long Irish festivals.
After 16 hectic and enjoyable years, the McGuinness brothers sold Molly Malones in 2007.