Sunday, December 17, 2006

Irish Pubs Part 1

In July 1993 Martin Doyle and I had a mid afternoon meeting with his business partner and Phil Davidson. Phil owned Taft Sound, the company that was installing the PA at the soon to be opened Causeway club. It was a routine, uneventful discussion of money and microphones that I mention for only one reason. It was the first time I had ever been to an Irish immigrant bar.

Due to construction at the Causeway club itself and the general Sinatra and Sambuca chaos at The Penalty Box Lounge downstairs Martin decided to hold the meeting at the newly opened Irish Embassy Pub up the road.

“The Embassy”, as it was already being called, was just off of Causeway Street on a run down block of old brick buildings and makeshift parking lots for Boston Garden events. It’s exterior was that of a pub one would find (or more accurately imagine finding) in Ireland. The entrance’s facade was painted green with it’s name in gold letters with a Gaelic font. Hanging over the entrance were Guinness and Bass signs.

Inside was a square room with exposed brick walls and ordinary bar trappings like dining tables, a juke box, pool tables and bric a brac. What stood out was the bar itself. Long and made of fine wood it sported finished wooden stools and brass railings. A large mirror behind the bar had the establishment's name elegantly painted in gold leaf. There were smaller mirrors throughout the room in honor of the parent bar in Ireland, called McGann’s, and various European beers. I was not used to seeing this kind of opulence in a bar. Restaurants and hotel lounges, sure, but the first thing I wondered was how much money this cost them and why they would spend it on a place designed primarily for heavy drinking.

Unlike the down and dirty places I was used to drinking at The Embassy served food, and it was as I read the menu that the talk turned away from our new venture and towards theirs.
I learned from Martin, who had been having lunch and other meetings there all week, that aside from the pub in Ireland that bared his name John McGann had been running a bar in Falmouth on Cape Cod since the 1970s. Though opened with doing a brisk business from The Garden’s winter games in mind The Embassy, in late June and early July, was already making a lot of money. Nearly all of it was being made from young Irish immigrants and college students from “The Old Sod” visiting on J1 visas to explore America while working for shady painting contractors. There was, in fact, a hostel upstairs.


Chris Rich said...

The neo Irish wave has been a striking wonder of our time and oddly, the auld sod is now more prosperous and vivacious than the new world roost as if the Pogues classic about migration could be reengineered .

I can hear it now "Thousands are flying, to ditch the mess from Mumbles..."

I always laughed at the Tera program from our imbecile in chief and the ensuing iraq mess. Boston is a giant safe house for IRA bombers and the UK would have to bomb the place if there is to be any consistency to the 'War on Tera'.

EricDoberman said...

Believe me, I know.

People in Boston gladly pay $200 to watch Gerry Adams give PowerPoint presentations at Sinn Fein fundraisers.

Hilarity ensued at a lesser Sinn Fein event that Mike Higgins and Jeanne's (now ex) boyfriend Jimbo worked some years ago.

As he often does Jimbo got himself inebriated before the show and decided to heckle the guest of honor, an IRA operative who had just served a long sentence in a British prison.

Before the speaker had even gathered his notes Jimbo was on his case. "You're a murderer and a terrorist! They should have hanged you in England!"

Mike laughs about it now but admits to being scared for his life at the time.