Following Irish tradition, Philly’s oldest bar wants women to pop the question there on leap day

Andrew Kramer
February 28, 2020 - 4:00 am
McGillin's Olde Ale House

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — An iconic Philadelphia bar is encouraging women to get down on one knee on Saturday and ask their partner an important question. 

Irish folklore says on leap day, women are encouraged to take matters into their own hands when it comes to popping the question, and McGillin's Olde Ale House in Center City is encouraging the same — the bar will be giving gift certificates to any of their female patrons who propose at the bar on Saturday. 

But this offer is about much more than just free food and drinks. 

"It would be the beginning of very good, happy, memories starting at McGillin's," explained owner Christopher Mullins, "and they'll be a part of a long tradition of people who have either met their spouses here or got engaged here, so it's a good luck charm."

Mullins made a similar offer ahead of leap day in 2016 and didn't get any takers. But regardless of what happens this year, he expects this to become a Feb. 29 tradition at the bar. 

"We'll always highlight it because we have so many couples who met here," he said. "It's part of the love lure of McGillin's."

Kelly and her husband were having a beer while KYW Newsradio was at McGillin's, and she shared her take on leap day proposals. 

"I think it's a nice tradition that tried to turn around sort of patriarchal confinement for women," she said, "but I think nowadays women can just put that aside and propose if they want to and I've certainly seen that happen a lot more."

Kelly laughed when told about how, according to tradition, if a man says no to the proposal he must either pay a fine or buy the woman a gift. 

Her husband looked shocked by that and didn't comment.

Mullins asks any woman who plans to get down on one knee at McGillin's on Saturday to let the bar know in advance.