New Bedford’s Irish Pub Craze of the 1980s
Irish pubs were all the rage in New Bedford in the 1980s. Disco had gasped its last breath, and the party crowd was looking for something new and different. They found it in an Irish pub operated by principal owners Richard Saunders and Charles Lariviere in the late 1970s in the terminal building of the New Bedford Municipal Airport.
Fiddler's Green Irish Pub was born, and so was a more than decade-long love affair between the people of New Bedford and the songs of the Irish Rebellion. Many places call themselves Irish pubs, but Fiddler's Green featured live Irish music, and it was wild.
Ronnie and Roseanne Camaioni became principal owners of Fiddler's Green in 1979 and made it the place to be.
"It was a magical place and time," Roseanne said. She said Fiddler's Green "brought people together solely out of their love of music and making friends."
"It was our version of 'Cheers," she said.
Two years after the Camaionis bought Fiddler's Green, Ray and Cid Roberts opened Bunraddy's Pub on Coggeshall Street, where Antonio's Restaurant now sits. Like the Camaionis, the Robertses featured live Irish music and welcomed their guests like family.
Cid said part of the popularity of the New Bedford pubs was the strong community presence of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick organization.
"Bunraddy's gave all of the Holy Family crowd an opportunity to come together after years of being scattered," she said. "It was the tradition of all generations coming together in one spot just like in Ireland."
"The time was just right," she said.
Fiddler's Green and Bunraddy's featured a host of great live entertainers through the years including, Toby Lynch, The Shenanigans, Dan Smith, Bruce Foley, The Reilly Brothers, Tom Carroll, and Couto and Mulligan, to name a few.
The Camaionis sold Fiddler's Green in 1989. The Robertses parted with Bunraddy's two years later in 1991. I remain dear friends with both couples and many of the folks I met in their establishments to this day.
New Bedford's Other Irish Pubs
There have been other Irish pubs in New Bedford since Fiddler's Green and Bunraddy's faded away, but they were Irish pubs in name only. None were ever able to capture the spirit and excitement of New Bedford's 1980s Irish pub craze. As Roseanne Camaioni said, it was a magical place and time.