Jimmy Neary’s Last Interview was a Gathering of Friends

Much has been written about Neary’s Pub and the prominent names that have visited or are regulars. Those names include Michael Bloomberg, Kathie Lee Gifford, Cardinal Dolan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mary Higgins Clark, and the list goes on. All drawn in by Neary’s legendary hospitality. I knew that I wanted to capture that beautiful aura that is Jimmy Neary on video. I scheduled to meet and interview Jimmy in his natural habitat at his cozy East 57th street restaurant. Jimmy was no amateur when it came to being interviewed for TV or one of the many newspapers and publications. However, I wanted this one to be different. I wanted it to be special. It certainly was.

I invited a long time family friend who was also a long time friend of Jimmy. Seamus McDonald has known Jimmy Neary since 1965, back when they would socialize at the wildly popular John Barleycorn. The Barleycorn was also where Seamus met his future wife Fran Hesterberg the granddaughter of former Brooklyn Borough President Henry Hesterberg. Seamus was at Neary’s Pub on that legendary opening night on St. Patrick’s Day of 1967. He was even at the private opening the night before.

When I arrived at Neary’s I was greeted by Jimmy’s daughter AnnMarie. It brought a tear to my eye seeing the restaurant opened again and wonderfully refurbished while retaining it’s Neary charm. Jimmy was in the back making sure his tie was tight and straight like the pro that he is enthusiastically preparing to host his own show. Seamus had already arrived sharing photos of old mutual friends with Jimmy as well as trading stories that go back well over fifty years.

The three of us sat down in the Bloomberg booth where the walls are adorned with Neary’s most celebrated customer who famously once brought Jimmy on his private jet to his homeland of Ireland.

As the camera rolled the interview became less of an interview and more like three friends enjoying each other’s company, reflecting on good memories and having plenty of laughs. Meanwhile, Jimmy kept reordering Neary’s celebrated lamb chops until he decided that one was worthy enough for the camera. I courageously volunteered to finish the two less than perfect orders of lamb chops sourced from the fabled Master Purveyors meat fabricators. Still the best damn lamb chops I’ve ever had!

After the interview Seamus left to meet his wife Fran and son Damien only to return with them an hour later to meet with us for dinner. Jimmy and I had a lot of laughs in the booth while waiting for Seamus to return. Jimmy went on about how thrilled he was to be back at his restaurant and how wonderful it was to see Seamus. He also went on about his passionate love for America which provided him with so much. It was during this time that I found out that former mayor Michael Bloomberg was on his way for dinner and I was sitting in his booth. Jimmy assured me that all his customers are treated with equal hospitality and that this was my booth for the evening.

Tap screen below

Shortly after Seamus returned we gathered for a group photo which included Jimmy’s daughters Una and AnnMarie.

Two and a half days later Jimmy Neary peacefully passed away.

Jimmy Neary’s restaurant will carry on. Jimmy will forever be remembered in numerous publications and media as well as a heartfelt documentary on Amazon Prime titled Neary’s: The Dream at the End of the Rainbow.

Enjoy Jimmy Neary’s last interview.

Visit Neary’s

  • 358 E. 57th Street, New York, NY
  • Tel: (212) 751-1434
  • umneary@gmail.com
    Contact Us With Comments, Questions or to Order Gift Certificates 
  • Hours:
    We will be open on limited hours for dinner only.
    4pm – 11pm / daily
    Last dinner order must be placed by 10pm.
    * Proper Attire Required
    * Major Credit Cards Accepted

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