This is a Danny Boy-free Zone

Unlike many (most?) Americans of Irish heritage, I have a love-hate relationship with St. Patrick’s Day.

How is it possible to hate everybody’s favorite beer-drinking holiday? Easy… I spent three years working at an Irish-owned bar that was pretty much Albany’s #1 St. Patty’s Day destination. Eamonn’s was hard-core on March 17: we opened at 7 a.m. for breakfast and even had a local priest come in and say Mass in the back room before lunch, so that no one had to make a choice between praying and drinking. There were no “shifts” — we all worked the full 20+ hours the bar was open. I’m pretty sure I’ve never worked harder, and I am entirely sure I never want to work that hard again. To this day, it pains me to see bartenders and wait staff slogging through the endless hours.

And that’s really what the “hate” is about. It’s not the insane levels of drunken bad behavior, or the “more Irish than thou” attitudes that cause normal people to paint shamrocks on their faces and dress like leprechauns; it’s not even the atrocious butchering given to Irish songs… No, it’s that I have too much empathy for the staff to make them deal with even one more person.

Which is a shame, really, because I used to really love being that one more person. I have many fond — if slightly hazy — memories of St. Patrick’s Days at Eammon’s from before I got a job there. Those of us who could would take the afternoon off so we could arrive in time for lunch and to stake out a table large enough to accommodate everyone who would get there by happy hour. I’m not going to share the stories (saving those for my Great American Bar Novel), but I will say that there are certain catchphrases — “I’m keeping myself warm with my breath,” for example, or, perhaps, “vacuum boy” — that bring some of those past Patty’s Days back into focus pretty quickly, and I think will always crack me up. I sometimes wish I was still up for those crazy afternoons of drinking much more Guinness than anyone would recommend, and I regret just a little that my otherwise-fun experience working at Eamonn’s ended that for me.

I don’t know what (if anything) I’ll be doing with my St. Patrick’s Day evening. The past few years I’ve acquiesced to going out to non-Irish establishments, so that’s a possibility. I’m sure at some point, whether in a bar or riding home on the Metro, I’ll hear some drunken goof trying his (or her) luck with the all-time worst Irish song, Danny Boy. As a preventative measure, I’ve located and posted a few of my favorite non-traditional* Irish tunes below.

The Saw Doctors, I Useta Lover

Christy Moore, Ride On

The Pogues, Fairytale of New York

* I said non-traditional. You thought I was kidding?

9 thoughts on “This is a Danny Boy-free Zone

  1. Roon March 17, 2009 / 2:56 pm

    I had my camera with me this morning on my way to work. I almost stopped by the construction zone to send you a picture of what the Eamonn’s site looks like now.

    I’m bringing some CDs to mom’s house where we’re having dinner tonight so I can make sure we don’t have to listen to her “Danny Boy Collection” CD!

  2. Eileen March 17, 2009 / 3:34 pm

    In a true travesy, MSN had a link yesterday to something like the 10 best pubs in the US…for DC they list Fado’s in Chinatown. Seriously, I don’t know who writes their *#$% but there are better in the nations capital – Dubliner, Brickskeller…I’m sure Sarah knows many more than I do.

    Anyway, Happy St. Patty’s day to one and all.

    Oh, @CL: plan for 80+ by early to mid April. Shorts, t-shirts, flip flops…we’re there already 😉

  3. common loon March 17, 2009 / 3:47 pm

    @ Eileen: WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!! Cannot understate that at all.

    Sarah, you are too young to sound so old. Very likely why I’ve never met an aged waitperson at an Irish pub on St. Paddy’s Day. I’m grateful there are still people willing and able to work that hard (sometimes wish I was one of them). Don’t let other (sometimes even rude) people make you too frumpy.

    The P-rade was fun. We arrived with the Irish Elvis, who ended up being part of the parade. Left once the crowd started getting a little too impolite- boys liked it, though.

  4. Mom March 17, 2009 / 6:14 pm

    Another Amateur Drinkers’ Night…..And, I do hope, Roon, you are not suffering corn beef & cabbage at Mom’s house – YICK, YICK, YICK!! If that’s all they had to eat in Ireland, no wonder they all left 😦

    I LIKE Iusta Love Her! Too cool. That is a real bar drinkin song! Quiet night here; do hope you all find some way to have some fun! So sorry that the Eamonns’ experience ruined it for you. I LOVED the stories of you walking the tables to serve drinks! I know, hard on the legs, but it sure did sound like fun. A tall, lanky lass carrying a tray of Guinness on table tops…… part of your Sienna experience. 🙂 HUGS

  5. Sarah March 17, 2009 / 11:59 pm

    @Roon – Oh, I think I am glad you didn’t do that. It would have made me sad.

    @Eileen – If Disney owned Irish bars, Fado would be exactly what they would want. It’s awful — so fake and plastic. There are probably a hundred better bars here.

    @CL – It’s not that I’m feeling old or curmudgeonly — it’s just that waitressing on St. Patrick’s Day, at least at the kind of place I did, is something best not attempted over the age of 30. It was grueling.

    @Mom – Glad you like the song! I have to say, I am not sure I ever actually walked ON the tables… or if I did, I blocked that out. Maybe Sionna, Wendy, or Marlene could weigh in on that.

  6. sionna March 18, 2009 / 9:27 pm

    No, I don’t think I ever saw her walk on the tables. She’s not that coordinated (and I think she would agree with me).

    Loon – Sarah earned the right to eschew the St. Patrick’s Day holiday when she had a tray of stale beer and cigarette butts dumped on her after she had been serving an over-stuffed pub all St’ Pats Day-long filled with over-served patrons. I think she actually sat down and cried.

    And I will plead the fifth on St. Pat’s Day stories.

  7. Eileen March 18, 2009 / 10:27 pm

    @ Sionna: You’re not taking the 5th – me thinks you can’t remember 😉

  8. Sarah March 19, 2009 / 5:55 pm

    She remembers, Eileen. She just ain’t talking!

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