Meet Chef Joe Sheridan, Inventor of Irish Coffee

Joe Sheridan was born in 1909 in Castlederg, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. One of six sons, his family moved to Dublin after the death of his father, where he worked in a restaurant. In 1943, he applied for the job of chef at the airport in Foynes. 

Foynes and Irish Coffee 

Sheridan’s rather concise application came in to Brendan O’Regan, simply stating, “Dear Sir, I’m the man for the job. Yours sincerely, Joe Sheridan.” 

O’Regan later said that it was the impudence of Sheridan’s application that made him decide to arrange an interview. He hired Sheridan following their meeting. 

While working for O’Regan, Chef Sheridan invented a new beverage that quickly caught on and is well-known still today: Irish coffee. Read more about the circumstances leading to its advent on our Irish Coffee Centre page. 

When Foynes closed in October 1945, Chef Sheridan and the rest of the catering staff moved across the Shannon Estuary to the new airport at Rineanna (now Shannon International Airport). There he continued to serve his renowned Irish Coffee.

Off to America

chef-joe-sheridan-02A famous journalist named Stan Delaplane transited Rineanna in 1951 and was served an authentic Irish coffee. By then, it had become the traditional welcoming drink at the airport. When he returned to San Francisco, he told his friend, Buena Vista owner Jack Koeppler, about the drink. The Buena Vista staff tried reproducing it, but it never came out quite right; they had a problem with the cream.

Koeppler offered Sheridan a position at Buena Vista in 1952. The chef decided to emigrate to America and accept the job.

Sheridan died ten years later in 1962. He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery just outside San Francisco.


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