John A. Feeney was born in the village of Spiddal, County Galway, Ireland, on June 15, 1854. By 1878 John had moved to Portland, Maine and opened a grocery store, at 42 Center Street, that posed as a front for a saloon. John opened four others in following years which we’ve mapped in a mural on the first floor. His saloons became gathering places where John would greet new immigrants, help them settle, find jobs, and register them as citizens and voters.
John’s son, John M. Feeney, was a successful fullback and defensive tackle on a Portland High state championship football team. He earned the nickname “Bull” because he would lower his leather helmet like a bull and charge through the line. Bull followed his brother Francis Feeney (later Francis Ford) to Hollywood, changed his name to John Ford and directed the classic Irish film, “The Quiet Man” among others. You’ll find his statue at Gorham’s Corner, where Fore, Bank, York, Pleasant and Danforth streets meet, a short walk from Bull Feeney’s and not far from where his father once operated his “grocer.”
Bull Feeney’s would like to honor those families who immigrated to Portland and elsewhere in the U.S. whether recently or, like Bull’s family, generations ago.