How enjoyable to think back at the long night of the 15th! A good St. Patrick’s Day celebration is an art and requires a bit of luck o' the Irish. It was a stroke of genius on my friend Bone's part to gravitate to the spot we did at AOH. We stood and could survey the band and the dancers and the crowd and we felt a part of it, standing more than half-way up, not loitering in back nor imprisoned in a seat. Location, location, location - so they cry that in the real-estate market and so it is at AOH where the fiddler player holds court. Oh Tireless Youth!
AOH has about it a flavor that is unrecreatable even compared to the Irish Festival in August. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though it has to do with Bone being there and the more intimate atmosphere that AOH inevitably supplies compared to the sterility of Dublin and its Coors sell-out. In the friendly confines of AOH we felt the longing of outsiders wishing to be insiders while getting “lost in the loop” of the repetitive Irish jigs and reels. The restroom was but a stone’s throw away and an agreeable segue between songs.
In my mind's eye I fade to old St. Patrick's at Tara Hall. We're all sitting awkwardly around a large round table eating fried fish in the Aquinas room - Victoria is there, with a child. We sit like knights of the round table with the unlikely accompaniment of women and children. Cal, I think, is there too, and Kindle. We wonder if the wives will leave or if they would follow us to the bar. They don't. We sit in the large heavy oaken barstools and caress a Guinness in front of a barkeep wearing a plastic green bowler hat. He furnishes stout for us at his convenience. A small window reveals Naghten street and in the middle distance the lit-up instrument of our collective torture appears - our workplace. Bu it looks impotent, impotent before our drinking. Not after a Jameson & Guinness! And not on the precious weekend. The sterile place loomed in the distance like a bully without recourse.
I recall the first time we saw the Irish dancers; there was the shock of the impromptu – thru the haze of my Guinness’d eyes there suddenly appeared waves of the most colorfully dressed girls all kicking at tempos I couldn’t keep up with. As I recall it, we were sitting in the front, on the floor, at old Tara Hall and legs kicked only a few feet from our disbelieving eyes. And here it is all these years later and the girls are as young as they were then and kicked just as high and my slo-ginned eye still couldn’t keep up…
Waves of Ireland’s finest
High-stepping weavers of the past
Black-hosed maidens of rural dowries
Garish in your Celtic shields
Holy in your innocence.
The potent opening shot of Jamieson was like Concord’s “shot heard round the world”! We’d walked up to the bar, Bone saying, “you get the Guinness and I’ll get the shots?” and we were suddenly holding the fruits of our labor. My ancestors spent a week's wages for such as these.