Clancy’s Café

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Template:Infobox restaurant Clancy’s Café was a café/bar that served Texas barbeque in Falfurrias, Texas. It was established in 1945, by Bernard (Clancy) and Mildred (Mim) Clancy. Clancy’s Café was most known for its over-the-top St. Patrick’s Day party, referred to by the locals as “St. Clancy’s Day” [1] and also reported as such in the Alice Daily Echo. On St. Clancy’s Day, Irish cuisine dyed green, including green bread from ButterKrust Bakery [2] (later acquired by Flowers Foods), was added to the menu and green beer was always on tap. This day was also Mim’s birthday, making it a double party [3] as named by the Corpus Christi Caller.


In 1945, Bernard Clancy, known as Clancy, [4] and his wife Mim stopped into a local café in Falfurrias, Texas as they were passing through in search of a warmer, drier climate, to relocate to from Davenport, Iowa as it was better for Mim’s health, per her doctor’s orders. They were trying to decide between Arizona and Texas and chose Texas based on a coin toss that led them there first.

Once in Texas, it was apparent to Clancy that there could not be a warmer or drier place as evidence of the tumbleweeds rolling through during their visit. Clancy went up to the owner of the café they were visiting and asked if he would sell it to him. The owner said yes, and Clancy’s Café was established. [5]

Located on U.S. Highway 281, the location was a popular place to stop in on the way to and from the Rio Grande Valley. Clancy would get up at 6:00 am every day to begin smoking 100 pounds of meat in anticipation of the day’s patrons. [6] Clancy’s did not have a regular menu. Area fisherman and hunters played a big role on what would be served for the day, supplying items like fresh fish and venison. Based on what was caught, Clancy would make an impromptu announcement of what could be served for the day. Easily spotted from the road, the white building with green shamrocks painted on the outside welcomed travelers to stop in. [7]

Famous people like Alan Hale Jr., Rex Allen, William Boyd and Boris Karloff were known to stop in. Two gentlemen by the names of Jim Harrington (a local civil rights activist) and Ray Brophy were stopped by border patrol on their way from the Rio Grande Valley as they were headed to Clancy’s Café to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 1979. [8] Dan Sullivan, owner of Mariposa Ranch, [9] paid for a private room for his family to use when dining at Clancy’s. When the Sullivan’s were not using it, Clancy had permission to share it with others. Well-known locals like the Lasater’s, founding family of Falfurrias, who owned a creamery that made Falfurrias Butter [10] and the Kleberg family, that are apart of the King Ranch, would also use the room to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

Clancy’s Café was not just a cozy rest stop for travelers, but over the years had become a popular place for locals to stop by in the evenings and was known as a dependable place for people to go who had fallen on hard times to get a meal free of charge. In return, many would share trinkets, family recipes, or even a kind word as a token of gratitude. The café was also famous all over the United States and other parts of the world for its authentic and go all out St. Patrick’s Day festivities every March 17, also known in the area as St. Clancy’s Day. This solidified Clancy’s as an institution in Falfurrias and was even noted as such on a brochure for the Chamber of Commerce. [11] [12]

With Clancy [13] and Mim [14] both battling declining health issues and having a desire to move closer to their daughter and grandchildren, who lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, they decided to put the business up for sale in 1978. [15] There were a few prospective buyers interested in the restaurant, but it was eventually purchased by a local resident named Ramon Garza [16] in 1979, who was also a friend of the Clancy’s. Ramon owned the café for many years until he retired. Years later, the building was removed by TxDOT in order to make way for expansion of U.S. Highway 281 to include a bypass, thus marking an end to a place that was an active staple as part of the community. A local restaurant named Strickland’s [17] opened up on U.S. Highway 281, further down the road in hopes of gaining the customers displaced when Clancy’s closed and even references Clancy’s Café in its description online.

St. Clancy’s Day

St. Clancy’s Day was an annual celebration held at Clancy’s Café on St. Patrick’s Day hosted by owner and fellow Irishman Clancy. On the first St. Clancy’s Day, Clancy filled green balloons with natural gas and set them free outside for neighboring residents to find. He also attached coupons for beer and corned beef with cabbage to draw the crowd in, and on that day — the tradition of St. Clancy’s Day was started in Falfurrias. [18]

The restaurant which could seat approximately 40, would be filled with 100 people on that day. There was always a line of people waiting outside to get in, and over the course of the day, 1,000 people would stop by to celebrate and drink green beer dyed just for the occasion. [19] Members if Clancy’s family that lived outside the city limits would travel to Falfurrias via Greyhound bus to be a part of the celebration. Local resident, Lily Weant, would play traditional Irish music on the organ while Clancy sang [20] and he was also known to dance too. The phone would ring from people all over the state, country, and even other parts of the world making song requests to celebrate with the café long distance, and in exchange, would send monetary donations for a round of beer for the house. The Blue Angels located at the Naval Air Station Kingsville would come every year. If crew members were deployed elsewhere and could not make it back in time for St. Clancy’s Day, they would be sure to call up to the café too. March 17 was also Clancy’s wife Mim’s birthday, and in honor of her, everyone would join in to sing Happy Birthday every hour.

Once the café was sold to Ramon Garza, the tradition continued. He kept the Irish theme and left the décor, which included Clancy family photos, [21] the same as if they never left. [22] This honored the legacy and memory of the Clancy’s, that had been created over the 34 years under their operation [23] as noted by the Valley Morning Star.


  1. Logan, P. (1966, March 22). A humble saint, this Clancy be, and all about him know it. The Alice Daily Echo.
  2. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. [1], Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  3. Deswysen, E. (1965, March 17). St. Patrick’s Day is double party day to Falfurrias man. Corpus Christi Caller, p. 2E.
  4. Clancy did collect long green anyway. (1973, March 19). Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
  5. Carrico, L. (1981, August 21). Clancy, Falfurrias’ ‘Irish spirit,’ is dead at 72. Corpus Christi Caller, pp. 1B, 2B.
  6. Hale, L. (1977, May 19). Get aboard for a brush country trip. The Houston Post, p. 3C.
  7. front construction 1955.pdf
  8. New York Times. [2], New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  9. Mariposa Ranch. [3], Mariposa Ranch. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  10. Falfurrias Butter. [4], Falfurrias Butter. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  11. Chamber of Commerce. [5], Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  12. Chamber of Commerce brochure.pdf
  13. Find a Grave. [6], Find a Grave. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  14. Find a Grave. [7], Find a Grave. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  15. Callaway, M. (1978, August 28). Falfurrias is losing Irish luck. Corpus Christi Caller.
  16. Dignity Memorial. [8], Dignity Memorial. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  17. Active Diner. [9], Active Diner. Retrieved October 14, 2020.
  18. Newton, B. (1978, March 16). ‘St. Clancy’s’ Day is big helping of Texas blarney. Corpus Christi Caller.
  19. Branning, C. (1979, March 11). Clancy’s tavern to toast St. Pat one more time. Corpus Christi Caller.
  20. When Irish eyes are smiling. (1976, March 24). Paisano Press, p. 6.
  21. we 3 old building.pdf
  22. Stoler, S. (1980, March 18). St. Pat’s Day celebrated at Clancy’s. Valley Morning Star, p. A5.
  23. Goodwin, B. (1991). Café brings bit of Irish to Falfurrias. Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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