James “Jimmy” Neary, owner of Neary’s restaurant in Manhattan for over 50 years, died Oct. 1 at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.
Neary’s opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 1967. Neary greeted and interacted with patrons each day at Neary’s, which is located on East 57th Street, just a block away from the New York Catholic Center.
“I wouldn’t give up this life for all the money in the world. I really love it,” Neary told CNY in a 2017 interview as he was preparing for the restaurant’s 50th anniversary and the showing of Neil Leifer’s documentary, “Neary’s: The Dream at the End of the Rainbow,” at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in Manhattan.
“I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get there. It’s been a fabulous life.” Cardinal Dolan offered the Funeral Mass Oct. 9 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “He told me once he wanted to make everybody feel as much at home as America made him feel at home when he arrived,” said Cardinal Dolan in his homily.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered remarks at the Funeral Mass. A longtime customer of Neary’s, he visited the restaurant days before Neary’s passing.
“It wasn’t the chicken that kept me coming back, it was Jimmy and that’s why everyone kept coming back,” Bloomberg said. “We all loved Jimmy. In a city full of characters, he really stood out.”
Born in Tubbercurry, County Sligo, Ireland, Neary came to the United States when he was 24. He was most recently a parishioner of Holy Trinity in Manhattan.
He is survived by his four children, Patrick, Una, Ann Marie and Eileen, and eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Eileen, in 2007.