If you're in the whereabouts of Punta Gorda, Florida in search of something quaint, pleasant and authentic than look no further than the Celtic Ray. A traditional Irish pub, the Celtic Ray is a perfect spot to pause and relax, listen to the local banter, and enjoy a meal of Bangers and chips or Irish stew. They also feature such odd sounding dishes as mushy peas and the Dublin Tart. Another fascinating sounding dish is the Doyler which is an Icelandic cod sandwich. By far my favorite part about this establishment is their boast of "Proudly not serving premium domestics" by which they mean no crappy beer. While some establishments might become limited by this tradition, the folks here still manage to serve up forty different types of beer including such unbeatable rarities and standards on tap as Boddington's, Sculpin IPA, Smithwicks, and Kilkenny, while their bottled selection features such delectable choices as Kopparberg Strawberry Lime Cider, Sprecher Hard Root Beer, Well's Banana Bread Beer, and Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
The Celtic Ray is a central element to the Punta Gorda public scene, and it's no wonder, being a true public house. Some of the gatherings they host include such regular events as Trivia Wednesdays and Open Mic Saturdays, and a variety of regular local performers such as Cage O'Hanlon, Bobby Vesey. Some of their more interesting stop in guests have included acts such as Clockwork Knotwork, the American Steampunk Band which is populated by members of O'Ryan Entertainment Company, all of which started out as the Craic Show which is a three piece band featuring Medieval instruments and song selections.
The walls of the Celtic Ray maintain the output of charm and are covered with beer mirrors advertising Guinness, Harp and such Irish standards. The front wall has beautiful stained glass with knot work and such Irish themed patterning.
Another of the charming element of this place is their branding. They feature such merchandise as a t-shirt that says "Pub Life" with the words arranged in just such an arc that it works wonderfully well with a healthy beer gut. The words seem to drape over the tummy like a sleeping cat. Some of their other shirts are more ornate with coat of arms type artwork and similar flair. On their website they have a page called "where do you Celtic Ray?" Wherein customers post pictures of themselves wearing their Celtic Ray apparel in various locations. This has resulted in many pictures from across the country featuring people in New Jersey, Colorado, Philadelphia, the Cayman Islands, Graceland, the 10,00 Islands, an OB-GYN clinic, and of course, almost a dozen pictures of customers who took their Celtic Ray clothing to Ireland to be photographed at the Giants Causeway or under the Blarney stone, or in one of the dozens if not hundreds of Public Houses in Dublin Ireland.
The truly touching tale behind The Celtic Ray's existence involves the owner Kevin Doyle and his friends gathering at the pub to put up sandbags one night to protect the place from flooding because of Hurricane Charlie. Unfortunately the storm had shifted course, and Doyle and his friends took refuge in a bathroom with no windows after watching the wind tear parts of the roof off, and pull one of the windows out still in its frame. Twelve years later business is better than ever, and Kevin and his son still run the place with the happy resilience of the stubborn Irish.
So if you're passing through Punta Gorda make a point of pausing and purchasing a pint from the resilient Celtic Ray.