Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm Slightly Irish, Like, Perhaps Ten Percent

Ah, St Patrick's Day.

Or as I like to call it, Amateur Night.

My pal and I frequent the communists' bar, also known as The Only Cafe, quite a bit and there used to be a lovely girl who tended bar there and one March 18th we showed up for pints and she was grumbling, and she rarely grumbled, about how much she detested two nights of the year, New Years Eve and St Patricks Day. Lots of arseholes and lots of puke to clean up.

Now I'm a big Guinness man, there are generally two types of pubs I frequent. Those that carry regional or local brews, like the Victory Cafe, the Cloak and Dagger,the communists' bar or Cafe Volo, well at these places I'll go with one of the wonderful options from these parts. And those other ones, McVeighs, the Dora Keough, McCarthys, well at these places then I'll have myself Guinness, four of them if I can. Remember, four pints is the perfect number.

And when it comes to the hard stuff, as discussed in the previous post's comments, I'm an Irish whiskey man. I do enjoy it very much.

When I was a young man I always wanted to go to Dublin. There and Spain were the two destinations of choice and now, years later, I have been lucky enough to get to Ireland three times. Once Jenn and I went and then my company became involved with a company over there and so I went once for work and then for a wedding of a friend I met through work there.

When it comes to travel there is nothing like becoming familiar with a place. Its the only way to go and I know some parts of Dublin better than a few of my friends there. Have had a few nice wanders there.

Ireland is a lovely country and the Irish are a terrific folk and our celebration of St. Patrick's Day has about as much to do with them as I do with the American space program.

So quite a bit but its not on the money. Or maybe not at all.


For a lot of people the whole idea of the Irish is a romantic one. Ireland is cool and its beautiful and its fun and that goes a long way. We don't go celebrating a day for the patron saint of Albania now, do we?

My Dad had four brothers and a sister. One of his brothers is a former airline pilot and more than a bit of a madman. He's what you'd call a character and while sadly he's slowed down quite a bit and his health has become an issue, in his day he was the life of the party, a born storyteller and entertainer. Now my uncle has been to Ireland many times and as one of his sons said, the kids were 'brought up Irish'. Now this was years ago before Ireland took off, we're not talking some sort of Celtic revival wanna be here, my uncle celebrated our family's Irishness (Irishnicity?) because as family lore went, we had come from Kincardine and made our way to the pine forests and granite cliffs of Lake Superior.

The only problem is he had the story all wrong. Neil McLean was Scotch through and through and he married a Bell, Margaret, born in Canada, her parents also Scots. (There were many Bells and McLeans from Islay and I think, though I can't know for sure, that this was a connection that brought Neil to Ontario. Immigrants then tended to stick with what they knew when they could, same as immigrants now I think its fair to say.)

Neil and Margaret had eight children and farmed in Nottawasaga, near Barrie, Ontario and after a couple of decades there they moved west to the Bruce on the shores of Lake Huron. It was only a few years after that that they sailed from Collingwood across Huron to the Soo and then to the other side of the moon, er, Goulais River. Neil and Margaret and seven of their children made the voyage but one son, Duncan, stayed behind and he disappears at this time, makes a life in Kincardine.


My poor uncle, when I broke the news that while his grandmother was a Whelan even she was only half Irish, if that, and that the McLeans were no more Irish than the Boissonneaus, my grandmother's family.

Nothing compared to my cousin Mike though who proclaimed that I had just made a lie out of a good part of his upbringing.



As for the Oilers, well O'Marra got the call along with Giroux and Jean Vandevelde, who, along with Teemu, makes his NHL debut tonight. Good luck to the kids, good god they are going to need it but here's hoping they pull off an Irish miracle and O'Marra and that other Irishman, O'Mark, do well on St. Patrick's Day.
Not long now until we're put out of our misery for another summer.


alan said...

I missed the whiskey discussion in the previous post.

Redbreast pure pot still Irish Whiskey is as good as any single malt scotch I've had.

That is all.

andy grabia said...

I'm trying out the Redbreast this evening. Jamesons will of course be had. I'll avoid the Bushmills. Filthy Protestant drink.

Oiler_Kiwi99 said...

Always wish that with my Scots ancestry that Scotland celebrated their patron saint Andrew with the same verve and gusto as the Irish do with St Patrick's and their descendents

Happy St Pat's to all celebrating today around the world

Black Dog said...

The Scots were too busy taking over the world to do much celebrating I think.

Dawson's Lounge, which is the pub in the picture there, is not a bad place to visit for a pint in Dublin btw. Just a tiny little joint, iirc, its one street east of Grafton, I think there may be a reasonable bookstore a few doors north as well.

Anyhow it hasn't the history or charm of a number of other pubs nearby - John Mulligan's, McDaid's. Neary's, The Old Stand, The Stag's Head, Davy Byrne's, the Long Hall - to name a few ;)

But its just a tiny little place. Have been there twice. The second time I was wasting time before meeting Cathal Byrne at McDaid's for a night out. I was in town for meetings and had skipped out early on the Friday, by 5:00 I was a couple of hours from meeting Cathal and pretty well gone already. Stumbled down the stairs and the place was packed with Scotsman in town for the Six Nations match the next day.

So I had a nice pint surrounded by a bunch of kilted, hairy, drunken, stinky Scots. It was like being back in Toronto on the subway.

Though much more fun.

Anyhow a good place for a pint.

shepso said...

Connemara and Tyrconnel are two of the finest whiskeys I've ever had, and this is coming from a guy who is almost always drinking scotch...

That said, before my brother and I went to Dublin last year, I should've called you. Still a hell of a great time though and I'd go back in a heartbeat. Though I'd be perfectly happy to go back to Scotland too. Oban was the only distillery we went to while we were there. Next time we're doing the entire whisky trail.

Gotta say, actually drinking a pint of Guinness at the brewery overlooking the entire city of Dublin was one of the highlights of my trip, and possibly my life...As was stumbling on from the brewery to the James Joyce museum shortly thereafter.

Oiler_Kiwi99 said...


Live just outside Glasgow and work in the license trade. Have many contacts in the whisky industry. Get in touch next time your over and I can definitely organise some stuff for you.

Black Dog said...

shepso - yeah thats a beautiful view and the Guinness is pretty good too ;)

Funny thing is I read Ulysses every year and I have not been to the James Joyce museum yet. Went to the Dublin Writers museum which is nearby, just north of Parnell Square, which I think is also where the Joyce Museum is.

Last time I was in Ireland it was in and out for a wedding and only spent a day in the city. Hopefully another time.

shepso said...

@ may be a few years, but I'll be sure to try and find you

@Pat...sure is a great view. The Joyce Museum is worth it. I never made it to the Dublin writers museum though, sadly. We were only there for 3 days. Not enough, but our hostel was right across the road from Trinity College and within walking distance of basically everything. Such a beautiful city...

PDO said...

I play in a band, we're the best in the land
We're big in both Chelsea and France
I play one mean guitar and then score at the bar
There's a line of chicks waiting for their chance
So come on now honey, I'll make you feel pretty
These other gals mean nothing to me
Let's finish these drinks and be gone for the night
'Cause I'm more than a handful, you'll see

So kiss me, I'm shitfaced
I'm soaked, I'm soiled and brown
in the trousers, she kissed me
And I only bought her one round

I can bench press a car, I'm an ex football star
with degrees from both Harvard and Yale
Girls just can't keep up, I'm a real love machine
I've had far better sex while in jail
I've designed the Sears Tower, I make two grand an hour
I cook the world's best duck flambe
I'll take the pick of the litter, girls jockey for me
I don't need these lines to get laid


I'm a man of the night, a real ladies delight
See my figure was chiseled from stone
One more for the gal then I'll escort her home
Come last call, I'm never alone
I've a house on the hill with a red water bed
That puts Hugh Heffnor's mansion to shame
With girls by the pool and Italian sports cars
I'm just here in this dump for the game

[Chorus x2]

Ahh, fuck it. Who am I shitting?

I'm a pitiful sight, and I ain't all that bright
I'm definitely not chiseled from stone
I'm a cheat and a liar, no woman's desire
I'll probably die cold and alone

But just give me a chance, 'cause deep down inside
I swear I got a big heart of gold
I'm a monogamous man, no more one night stands
Come on, honey, let me take you home

[Chorus x4]

Black Dog said...

PDO - you're playing my song ;)

shepso - ah, you were right in the heart of the city, very nice

Dublin is beautiful but not like Edinburgh, which is just stunning, indeed I would compare it to Glasgow a bit. Its working and gritty and lovely all at the same time.