John Joe Somers, at 63; the ‘Dean of Irish Pubs’

The Boston Irish community is mourning the death of John Joe Somers, the “dean of Irish Pubs” who passed away March 24 after a long illness. He was 63.

Mr. Somers was the founder and owner of the Somers Pubs, a popular group of Irish locals that included, among others, Mr. Dooley’s, the Green Dragon, Hennessey’s, and Durty Nelly’s in downtown Boston and in the suburbs.

He was the recipient of the 2003 “Always the Irish Heart” award presented by the Irish Chamber of Commerce USA, and was highly regarded for his philanthropy and job creations.

That year, Mr. Somers told the BIR that his success could be explained by his commitment to work. “It’s just attention to detail. Anybody can make money in a good economy,” he said. “It’s when the economy goes slower is when you separate the wheat from the chaff.”

He said he got ideas by talking with the staff and keeping his wide eyes open; and he was known to visit each of his pubs every day.
Mr. Somers was born and brought up in Co. Kerry into a family that was in the pub business in England and Ireland. He opened his first business in Listowel at age 19. He later came to the states as a musician, playing guitar in a band for some 25 years. He opened his first pub, Mr. Dooley’s, on September 30, 1991, his 40th birthday.

He leaves his wife Ann (McCarthy); four children, Noelle Somers, Sean Somers, Kristine Higgins, and Jillian Somers; three grandchildren, and three siblings, Rita Horan, Brenda Murphy, and Kevin Somers.

A funeral Mass was said for Mr. Somers on March 29 in St. Theresa Church, West Roxbury.