James Joseph Neary was born in Tubbercurry on September 14, 1930. His father, Patrick, was a policeman and a farmer. His mother, Catherine (Marren) Neary, was a housewife.
At school, they made fun of Jimmy for his height. But later, he had the last word when he cleaned everyone’s pockets at a game of poker. With his earnings, he bought two lambs, which he raised into other lambs, which he then sold. At 24, he bought an ocean liner ticket to America with the winnings.
“You are so small,” he told her, telling her that his mother. “What are you going to do in America?”
“I have no idea, Mom,” he said. “But I’m on my way.”
Upon arriving in Manhattan, Mr. Neary was greeted at the pier by his older brother, John, a police officer who had immigrated earlier. Jimmy quickly found a job as a porter at the New York Athletic Club and accommodation in the Bronx. Enlisted in the military, he learned to drive a tank at Fort Hood, Texas before being deployed to Germany. After his service, back in New York, he ran the bar at PJ Moriarty’s for years.
Mr. Neary was pouring pints one evening when he met Eileen Twomey, whom he married in 1966. The following year, he opened Neary’s with fellow bartender, Brian Mulligan, who remained his partner until his died in the mid-1980s.
Around that time, Mr Neary bought the building housing the restaurant – a purchase that served him well decades later when the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City. While other businesses were closing because they couldn’t afford rent, Neary stayed afloat. His daughter Una, who worked for her father as a waitress in his youth and then helped him run the establishment while working his day job in finance, will continue to oversee the business.
Besides her, Mr. Neary is survived by two other daughters, Ann Marie Bergwall and Eileen Bowers; his son Patrick; and eight grandchildren.