For many, a trip to beautiful Ireland is a bucket list trip. I've personally never been but perhaps someday. After all, anybody with a "Mc" last name probably has a little bit of Irish in them somewhere down the family lineage. However, for those of you who can't find the time or the money to head to Ireland (or travel to Europe is banned because of a global pandemic), you can still visit The Emerald Isle without ever having to leave the friendly confines of our state. You see, the Emerald Isle is actually in Imogene, a small community in Fremont County that is brimming with Irish pride, tradition, and heritage.
Last year, when things were still emerald green, a couple of friends of mine and I made the visit to this beautiful southwest Iowa town of about 72 people (as of the last census). Despite it's relatively small size, there is a lot of life and vibrancy in this small community. They are proud of their Irish Catholic heritage and are eager to invite others to share in it too.
Every Irish community needs their Irish pub and The Emerald Isle fits that bill for Imogene. Last year, I stopped in "Iowa's Little Ireland", which is Melrose in Monroe County. They have their own Irish pub known as Feehan's.
The Emerald Isle is located on the Main Street in town. There's not many streets so it shouldn't be hard to find it. It's a green and brick building with big and robust lettering.
When my friends and I visited, you could still faintly make out the large painted shamrock in the middle of the road.
Inside, the Irish vibe is literally everywhere. From green seated chairs and table cloths to green paint, a green tree, and a whole assortment of other fun decor and signage.
Beside a full bar, they also serve a variety of food options. It is pretty standard small town bar and grill fare.
They also offer specials.
I spotted these corn hole / bags boards handing on the wall. I'm sure during warmer months, they get some use on or near their nice outdoor patio space.
I've been told that their St. Patrick's day festivities last several days and are the stuff of legend. These thirsty Irish folk practice all year on the 17th of every month. I got a good chuckle out of the "St. Practice Day" promotion. Clever.
Of course, there is more to Imogene than just a fun Irish pub. The Wabash Trace trail runs through town and is popular with bicyclists.
Naturally, a lot of those bikers will make pit stops at The Emerald Isle as evidenced by the sizable bike rack on the premises.
Beside benches, picnic tables, and a fire pit near the trail, there is also a grain bin that has been converted into bathroom and shower facilities.
Whether you are in town because you pedaled through or you are stopping for a pint at the pub, you should also head to check out the beautiful St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
Literally from any angle, it is an impressive structure. It goes without saying that they do not make church buildings like this anymore.
It was not open for my friends and I to peer in when we were there but based on some of the photos I've found online, it looks to be rather magnificent. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are going to be celebrating that history and heritage later this year if you want to swing into town for what I imagine will be a blockbuster event.
The town is quite proud of it (and rightfully so) and there are a few other church structures nearby too.
The St. Patrick's Academy building was built in 1906.
This beautiful brick building, perhaps once a nunnery or convent, is across the street from the church.
There is a large and quite regal statue of St. Patrick on the church property premises next to this building.
Of course, agriculture is a major part of the rural economy everywhere, including in Fremont County. I found both corn and soybean fields nearby and a large grain elevator as well
There is more than just corn and soybeans that are raised in the area. A local garden center, Baile Market, is also in business.
Nearby to the market is a a small stage venue that has been painted with "Floodstock 2019". Unfortunately, Fremont County was hit hard by the Missouri River flooding in the spring and summer of 2019. Hopefully there is not a repeat in 2020.
Someone carved a shamrock out of an old tree truck. Very nicely done. It is definitely "on brand" for the town.
There are a couple of other buildings in the downtown area of town. The post office building looks a lot like a lot of other post office buildings in rural Iowa.
This gorgeous brick bank building needs to have another life as something interesting. Perhaps it can be hooked up to some great Internet and become a co-working and telecomute space as the future of work evolves. The upstairs could become an apartment or two or perhaps an AirBnB unit for rent?
Likewise, this old brick building is also quite beautiful. They don't make buildings like this anymore.
I'm not sure if this is a city garage or if someone just painted "City of Imogene" on it, but it's a nice structure.
Many of the streets in town are gravel. It gives it a certain rustic charm.
This old bridge is probably not one you want to drive a big farm implement on, but it's nonetheless quite neat.
There are a number of nice single family homes around town.
On the south side of town, I found a cemetery.
There's a nice city park and other green space around town.
When I was in town, it appeared that someone had put some effort into creating a homemade slip and slide.
Of course, there's a water tower too and it is decked out in green paint.
I love towns like Imogene because they have gone all in with creating an identity for itself. Despite it's small stature, I still feel like there is a lot to appreciate about the town. My friends and I met several individuals (both workers and patrons) in the Emerald Isle and they were all more than friendly and welcoming. I hope to get back sometime to actually see inside the church for myself and visit sometime during the St. Patrick's Day festivities.
In the meantime, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Fremont County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this website.