Friday, March 18, 2005

A bit of the Blarney!

My grandmother was a Murphy before she married, thus making me at least a wee bit Irish. I have celebrated that fact my entire life, and returned to the old sod two years ago, taking it all in and experiencing a wee bit of familiarity. Celebrating County Cork's win in hurling during the Muenster games along with my pubmates. Oh yeah, and gaining the right to a bit of Blarney by leaning backwards to kiss the stone. I have the official license granting me the gift of gab, not that I needed it.

With this love of my Irish heritage, of course I'll be wanting to celebrate a bit on this side of the pond on March 17. Celebrate I do, in moderation, quaffing a few of my favorite brew, the Liffey water, Black Gold.....Guinness Stout! My husband and I celebrated a bit early this year, enjoying a ceilidh at the Celtic Inn in LaCrosse. Dee Martin is a very gracious hostess, opening her inn to all, offering Guinness, a wonderfully arranged spread of food, and entertainment with Father, Son and Friends in the intimate setting of her parlor. We meet with the "regulars" at this event, all recognizing each other from the previous year. I can't think of anything I'd rather do for St. Patrick's Day...toasting all things Irish in a cozy setting with like-minded folks. Nothing can really top this, can it?

Well, let's travel back in time to around 1975, in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I grew up in Minneapolis, but everyone knows the Irish community celebrates in St. Paul. On this particular St. Patrick's Day, my two good friends and I decided we should do a pub crawl, trying to hit as many of the Irish pubs as we could. We'd gone to O'Garas and O'Malleys, and decided to hit McCafferty's on Grand Avenue. When we arrived there, they were asking for a cover charge of five bucks. What? We were in college, we needed that money for beer! Still, the inside of the pub beckoned with music and hilarity and we paid the price.

Crowded in a comfortable sort of way, the Harp and Guinness flowed freely from the tap as we enjoyed an incredible, authentic Irish pub band. Really authentic. All the way from Ireland. Even if this had been our first stop, we wouldn't have moved on to another bar. It was traditional Irish music at a time when the closest thing Americans had heard was the Irish Rovers singing about a unicorn. Even after the last call was made, the band played on for all who wished to stay, and stay we did. After all these years, all I need is to close my eyes and I'm transported right back to McCaffertys and the music. It helps if I put on one of many CDs I now have in my collection.

You see, that band in 1975, at a pub on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, no longer there, still plays...worldwide to huge sell out crowds in big arenas and concert halls. Because I was given the gift to enjoy them in a small pub, for a cost of $5 and the pleasure of the after hours show, I just can't bring myself to go to a concert with Paddy Maloney and the Chieftains.

Yes, the Chieftains. And to think we complained about a five dollar cover. I don't think I will ever, in the rest of my entire life, ever enjoy a St. Pat's celebration as much.

Though Dee does put on a very close second at her inn!


At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Molly said...

What an awesome story... lucky, lucky you! I'd give my eyeteeth to see the Chieftains! 8-O

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Jane Swanson said...

I used to live just a few blocks from this Inn, on South 21st street! I remember seeing it from the outside. Cass street is filled with beautiful homes; it is my favorite street in LaCrosse.
Just think........all this time I could have been celebrating my own tiny bit of Irish heritage just down the street!
Jane Swanson

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