Rumor has it that more couples have met at McGillin’s Olde Ale House than anywhere else in Philadelphia. To celebrate that “lovely” factoid AND the fact that 2020 is a Leap Year, the 160-year-old Irish tavern wants to help couples tie the knot. It’s an old Irish tradition for women to propose on Leap Day and the first five women to propose at McGillin’s on Leap Day, will win a $100 gift certificate.
There are only two rules:
1. They must call ahead to 215-735-5562
2. It must be a public proposal
“We tried this last Leap Day and didn’t get any takers,” said Chris Mullins, Sr, who co-owns the historic tavern with his wife, Mary Ellen, and their son, Christopher Mullins, Jr. “We’re hoping that some of those relationships have had 4 more years to marinate and that dozens more couples who met here over the last few years might be ready to take the plunge.”
McGillin’s, the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country, has a guest book with the signatures of 100+ couples who met there. It includes couples who were married decades ago and return every year for their anniversary and others who are newly engaged. Think a nun who met a sailor and has been happily married for more than 50 years, a couple with a watercolor of the tavern hanging above their bed, and two brothers who both met their spouses at McGillin’s, and several who have gotten engaged there too. Many are happy to share their stories.
About the Leap Year Tradition
Irish folklore is full of wonderful, sometimes silly and often out-dated traditions, and Leap Year proposals are among the most well known. (There was even an Amy Adams movie, “Leap Year” based on it.) It is said that the tradition began in the 5th century when St. Brigid of Kildare complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose. In response, St. Patrick decreed that women could propose on this one day in February every 4 years. Later, the tradition was taken to Scotland by Irish monks. The Scots added on that any man who declined the proposal would have to pay a fine.
In 2020, women are definitely capable of proposing any day of the year and men needn’t pay her a silk dress or pair of gloves (the typical fine) if they decline. However, it’s still a fun tradition. So if you’re already thinking of tying the knot soon and your groom-to-be could use a little nudge, head over to McGillin’s on Saturday, February 29!
In 2020 McGillin’s Olde Ale House is celebrating it’s 160th anniversary. The tavern opened in 1860, the year Lincoln was elected president. It is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country. It’s known for having 30 local craft beers on tap, homemade comfort food and the camaraderie that has attracted not only young patrons, but their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents before them.
McGillin’s is located at 1310 Drury Street (between Chestnut & Sansom, 13th & Juniper) in Midtown Village.