Sláinte

To reference “Cheers” when telling the story of a bar seems at once hopelessly clichéd and absolutely necessary, so I’ll get it out of the way first thing — Eamonn’s Loudon House was the place where everybody knew my name. Over the course of the years I spent there, I played many of the roles: Carla, the bitter, sarcastic waitress; Cliff, the pedantic know-it-all; Norm, the beer-loving working stiff; and of course Diane, the would-be intellectual who didn’t quite know how she’d ended up slinging drinks for a living.

It was, therefore, with great sadness that I read the following opening words in an email yesterday from Shannon, “They are demolishing Eamonn’s on Thursday…” Today’s Albany Business Journal confirms the news, and describes a bit about the condo complex that will erase a little piece of my personal history.

It’s been more than ten years since I moved away and maybe two or three since it was gutted by an electrical fire, but there are few stories in my life from between 22 and 27 where Eamonn’s does not play, at the very least, a supporting role. It was where I worked, I played, I made friends, I dated. Many of the stories from those days are known simply by their most notable characteristic — vacuum boy, for example, or Irish Band Night — or a memorable catchphrase, my favorite being “once they taste human flesh, they want human flesh.” (Long story.) And because of all the people I met there, I can still walk into any Irish bar in the greater Albany area and have a reasonably good chance of running in to at least one or two friends.

Of course, nothing about the demolition does anything to change or limit my memories or my friendships, but I am deeply sorry to see it go nevertheless. I don’t work where I do today by accident; buildings are important to me — and Eamonn’s is no exception. I have very specific recollections of it as its own thing: the smell it took on after the summer of the mold (a faint sour aroma that remained long after its source was gone), the slippery-edged hole in the floor under the ice machine (where I was sure one day I would fall and break my leg), the tiny, built-in wait-stand outside the kitchen (home of an endless string of cheap calculators ruined by having beer sloshed on them). It was an old building, more than 100 years if memory serves, so it was rife with the indignities of age, but for me, it was altogether more than the sum of its slightly-crooked parts.

I haven’t gotten the impression that there was much of an effort to save it after the fire. Time and neglect gave the town what it long wanted — an excuse to get rid of what was seen as an eyesore, a noisy place that drew crowds, even as an upscale neighborhood grew up around it.

Tomorrow, it will be gone.

So fill to Eamonn’s, the parting glass:

Oh all the money that e’er I had, I spent it in good company
And all the harm that e’er I’ve done, alas, it was to none but me
And all I’ve done for want of wit to memory now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

Oh all the comrades that e’er I’ve had, they are sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I’ve had, they would wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and I’ll softly call good night and joy be with you all

Sláinte.

(Or: Cheers.)

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10 thoughts on “Sláinte

  1. Shannon March 5, 2008 / 7:59 pm

    It really was our Cheers, or our St. Elmo’s Fire, or our Central Perk (with beer of course).

    I am amazed at the sheer number of people that I can count as good friends because I was a regular there. It wasn’t just a bar, it was a place to be among friends, share stories, embarrass yourself (see Sweetpea’s post!) and sing songs.

    My memories are far too numerous to recount here (and it isn’t my blog!), so I won’t bore anyone because most of them are “You had to be there” type stories. But to continue Sweetpea’s theme thread, I’d like to contribute Cute Scottish Band Night (and the subsequent all-night excursion to East Durham following them to their next gig!) and The Night Sweetpea Lactated Guinness.

    And most importantly, I met my husband there. 🙂

    And to also continue with the musical toast (and I don’t know how to highlight it, so quotes will have to suffice):

    “Once upon a time, there was a tavern
    Where we used to raise a glass or two
    Remember how we laughed away the hours,
    Think of all the great things we would do

    Those were the days, my friend
    We thought they’d never end
    We’d sing and dance forever and a day
    We’d live the life we’d choose
    We’d fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way”

    Mary Hopkins – “Those Were the Days”, also famously covered by Liam Clancy and Robbie O’Connell at a memorable evening at Eamonn’s.

    Slán agus beannacht leat (Good-bye and blessings on you)

  2. Roon March 5, 2008 / 8:21 pm

    Very well written. A fitting tribute.

    Although I didn’t log nearly the number of Eamonn’s hours as you ladies, I feel like I was there enough to also have fond memories. I learned songs in there that I teach to my kids today! (Although I wonder what their teachers would say if they caught them singing Irish drinking songs)

    The old place will be very sorely missed.

  3. Mom March 5, 2008 / 8:36 pm

    Oh my, such a sad passing/ending. I do believe “we” met Shannon and her parents & her “grands” there in your Sienna days — as well as Eamonn and his family and friends and YOUR friends and the wonderful singers & musicians. WHAT A FEW GREAT TIMES WE HAD!! This is like our losing “Swats” and “Hannigans” on the south side here many moons ago — we Irish survive & find new places for our family & friends to gather and share — may ‘ye! As Shannon said, “those were the days….. my friend…..” God bless all of Eamonn’s extended “FAMILY”……

  4. Marlene March 5, 2008 / 9:10 pm

    As much as I’d like to be as eloquesnt as both Sarah and Shannon, it’s just not one of my gifts.

    So I’ll just say this: *sniffle*…*sigh*…*sniffle*

    As sad as it’s been to drive by the burnt and ruined building the past coupke of years, it will be worse for it not to be there at all.

    *sigh*

  5. Shannon March 6, 2008 / 11:45 am

    There’s been a delay thanks to the deluge of rain we have had in the past day or so.

    Doesn’t look like demolition will start today, which is not surprising considering the mini lakes that have appeared everywhere around here.

  6. Shannon March 6, 2008 / 3:02 pm

    Sorry! Didn’t know if you wanted to be a named source or not.

    I wasn’t sure if what you were telling me was off the record or what, you know what I mean? 😉 I wil be sure to cite you from now on.

  7. wendalicious March 6, 2008 / 9:48 pm

    It will be sad to drive by there and see a big empty space (at least, for now). A lot of my fond memories are the same fond memories recounted above…but I remember the St. Patrick’s Day I spent nearly 24 hours in Eamonn’s…cut all my classes to get there at 12 for lunch/beer, and didn’t leave until about 4am.

    Remember when we used to go there for brunch? How about the time when Mike P. and I kept refilling Shannon’s pint glass when she wasn’t looking, and she had no idea how she got so drunk?

    And, Sweetpea, I will go to my grave swearing that you hit your head on that table.

    Good times, good times.

  8. Shannon March 7, 2008 / 3:38 pm

    Oh Good Lord….thank you so much Wendy for bringing up THAT embarrassing memory! LOL! Look up gullible in the dictionary, there’s my picture…blah blah blah.

    In my defense, Mike was good at that stuff.

  9. Sweetpea March 7, 2008 / 3:45 pm

    Shannon, I hate to tell you, but if I recall correctly, Deb and I were in on that too. It was a massive conspiracy against you. 😉

    Wendy, I will swear to the very end that I did not hit my head on that table. And I know this to be true because a) it was my head and I’d know and b) I fell off that chair hard and extremely indelicately and felt it for days. If I’d hit my head with that kind of force there would have been a bump or bruise, and there wasn’t. So there!

    And to everyone else, yes, I once was drunk enough that I actually fell off my chair. Shocking, I know. So, so unlike me. /sarcasm

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