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Our Story

Our History

The pub was established in October, 2000 here on the ground floor of the beautiful Hannig Building, in the heart of Austin’s historic 6th Street Entertainment District. Our building, designed by Jasper Preston, dates back to 1875 and was built by cabinet maker and undertaker extraordinaire Joseph Hannig. Hannig was the husband of Susannah Dickinson, the last Alamo survivor, whose home now rests on a site just a few blocks away. The Pub’s western wall is original 1875 stonework. Everything else you see throughout the Pub came from Ireland and was built in place.

Our Namesake

Bessie Dee (B.D.) Riley was born in Hempstead, Texas in 1896, to Irish immigrants Charles and Alice Riley.

The Riley clan came to America in 1871 from County Cavan. The Rileys were part of over one million Irishmen who migrated to America to escape the death and disease brought about by the potato famine.

Charles Riley made his way to Alabama, and then to Texas in search of farmland and a better life for he and his growing family. Bessie and her sister Jessie were one of three sets of twins born into the family of 10 children. After long days in the cotton fields, the family would sit close to the fireplace and tell stories of the Beauty and Pride that is Ireland.

Charles and Alice dreamed of someday visiting their homeland. However, the children grew to have children, and grandchildren soon followed, and the Rileys never returned to their beloved Ireland.

To honor the spirit of this family, and the many proud Irish, we have named the Pub in honor of Bessie. Her portrait has a place of honor on the east wall of the Pub.

Our Publican

John Erwin is a native Texan and longtime Austinite. After many years in the local beverage business, John “retired” for a few minutes then began pursuing his dream: to run a fine traditional Irish Pub. B. D. Riley’s Irish Pub is the realization of that vision. After extensive “research” in pubs throughout Ireland, John found a pub designer able to bring a bit of old Ireland right here to 6th Street. B. D. Riley’s is one of a kind–not part of a chain, nor a “cookie-cutter” operation. It’s your local pub, on 6th Street. John is a believer in supporting local business, and is dedicated to keeping a fine “public house” with good food, fine pints of beer and great live music.