Established in 2012, Conroy's serves a wide selection of beers, wines, teas and whiskeys. Their full kitchen serves Irish and American inspired pub fare.

A chance encounter in a bar over 4,000 miles away from home

The tale of two Irish businessmen in Kansas City

By Kady Cramer

Conroy’s Public House, with its three locations in Leawood, Overland Park and Fairway, has been a staple of Irish and American inspired hearty pub fare since 2012. But did you know the inspiration behind the food comes directly from Ireland?

That’s right. Owner Ray Dunlea and general manager Ryan Rafferty were both born and raised on the “Emerald Isle”. 

The Dunlea tale

Dunlea comes from Cork, on the southern tip and second largest city in Ireland. The city has many local traditions in food, including crubeens (boiled pigs feet), tripe (cow’s stomach) and drisheen (a type of blood pudding). During certain city festivals, food stalls are also erected on city streets.

Dunlea has been a long-time resident of the states. He first relocated to Boston, then to New York where he opened two Taverns called The Gaf (loosely translating to “the hangout place”) and met his wife before finally settling in Kansas City. With his wife originally from the Kansas City area, and after the events of 9/11, they thought the Midwest would be a more family friendly place to live. Dunlea will be celebrating receiving his citizenship on March 16th of this year.

After relocating, Dunlea opened the short lived Gaf Tavern at 71st and Wornall. After its closing Dunlea launched Conroy’s Public House. The Conroy name pays homage to Ray’s late mother as her maiden name. 

The first Conroy’s location went up on 95th and Nall in 2011. Thereafter, Dunlea opened his second location on Rainbow Boulevard followed by his third location in Leawood, on State Line, in the fall of 2019. 

Dunlea met Rafferty shortly after Rafferty relocated to Kansas City in 2016. 

The Rafferty tale

Rafferty grew up in Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. Blessed with fresh seafood from nearby waterways and just-picked produce, Belfast has a bounty of food and drink to choose from, including ulster fry (traditional breakfast), boxty (potato pancakes), Guinness beer, and of course their signature “Irish” coffee. 

Rafferty’s original passion was art and design. Receiving a degree from the Queen’s University, he went on to earn his masters in education. Pursuing a career in teaching, Rafferty was presented with an opportunity to visit Qatar in the Middle East. 

Rafferty started to vacation and do volunteer work in the United States, falling in love with it enough to make it his home. 

Having drinks with a friend at the bar in Conroy’s, Rafferty met Dunlea who started up a conversation and offered him a new career. By a chance meeting in a bar over 4,000 miles away from where they were raised, Dunlea and Rafferty now run the Conroy’s Public House chain of restaurants together.

“When it comes to our food, we stick to our Irish roots,” says Rafferty. “Our slogan is ‘American Heart, Irish Soul.’ We know where we are and try to cater to our customers, but we also put our Irish influence on most things.”

Fresh Atlantic cod fillet headlines the Fish & Chips entree, served with house cut fries, mushy peas and coleslaw.

Some of Conroy’s signature dishes include Cottage Pie, Fish & Chips, Steak & Guinness Pie, and Scotch Egg. There’s also a few unexpected hidden gems on the menu such as Atlantic Salmon and Chicken Fried Chicken. 

For more information and a full menu, visit

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