Catholic Comfort & Irish Illumination

I’ve reached that late moment in life where I dread the prospect of burying my friends, but at the same time, I’m not terribly keen on the idea of them burying me.                                                                                             author unknown 

pals_at_cryans                                                                                                                     So what do three old friends with longstanding Irish Catholic inclinations that haven’t seen each other for a very long time talk about when they finally do manage to coordinate a rendezvous? The answer, of course, is death–or the ever looming prospect  of personally acquiring the condition. And such was the case a few weeks back when Susan O’Brien, Howard Casey, and I gathered together for an afternoon repast at Cryan’s Tavern in Annandale, New Jersey.

Our conversation began with a recap of those friends and acquaintances in common that were either at death’s door or had already crossed that threshold since last we met. After the appropriate number of toasts to those that had gone before us, we entered into a cheery discussion about our individual preferences concerning the benefits of cremation as opposed to accepting that final embrace from Mother Earth. And when those whimsical ramblings had finally delivered us to that perfect state of melancholia, we opted to augment our need for drink by moving the discourse from that of the inevitable crawl to the grave to the current race for the White House .

Soon the only thing darker than the mood in our hearts would be the Guinness in our glasses. And while we shared an equally pessimistic view about the present state of American politics, those instilled parochial school virtues of faith, hope, and charity combined with that indomitable Irish sense of humor would carry us through that particular day.Whether or not those same attributes will sustain us through the trials and challenges that America will face after this election remains to be seen. But as long as my own life is blessed with tavern mates the likes of Miss O’Brien and Mr. Casey, I will gladly choose to carry on no matter who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The following piece of music by our mutual friend Billy Mulligan, who for the better part of his life has lent his voice to social and political justice, reflects those moments when one might be tempted to seek a bit of divine intervention on the issue of personal mortality.

The entirety of this fine release, Beyond the Paleis available for purchase at CD Baby.

Posted by: Chris Poh for  American Public House Review

Shut Up and Sing

Irish decor at Yesterdays in Warwick, New York

As hard as it is, especially in the wake of having had to endure the most recent round of presidential primary  returns, I will attempt to refrain from the usual political pontificating that has all too often populated the pages of Pub Talk. After all, it is Saint Patrick’s Day! So for the sake of that day, I will defer to those voices that are much better suited to the task of sinking our sorrows and raising our joys!

Click on the titles or thumbs below to enjoy some of our Celtic favorites from the American Public House Review Jukebox.

 Billy                                                         Mulligan as seen                                                         in American                                                         Public House                                                         Review Billy Mulligan “Traditional Tunes

Jealousy by                                                     RUNA as seen in                                                     American Public                                                     House review Runa “Courted a Sailor

Gerry Timlin as                                                     seen in American                                                     Public House Review Gerry Timlin “Will Ye Go Lassie Go

Charlie                                                       Zahm's album; THE                                                       CELTIC CONCERT as                                                       seen in American                                                       Public House                                                       Review Charlie Zahm “The Minstrel Boy

Totes                                                   for Goats Burning Bridget Cleary “The king and the Fair Maid


Countdown to St. Pattys Day; a tribute to Luke Kelly

Today’s stop on Pub Talk’s Countdown to St. Patty’s Day takes us to the enchanting world of Irish music as we pay tribute to one of it’s iconic singers, Luke Kelly.

a portrait of Luke Kelly by Brendan Higgins

Luke Kelly was born in Dublin in 1940 and grew up in a working class family.  He spent some of his early years as a musician in England, but returned to Dublin where he met the men who would soon become the Dubliners.  The band made its start at the now famous O’Donoghue’s Pub sessions.  I was told Kelly himself suggested the band name the group “The Dubliners” after the James Joyce book, but I don’t know that for certain.  (Makes a great story though, if true)

Kelly had that combination of frustration and tenderness in his voice that somehow defines the very spirit of Dublin before the Celtic Tiger years.  His delivery was no doubt one of passion and strength.  But there was a palpable sincerity to him that few singers in any genre have ever repeated.

O'Donoghues Pub in Dublin

The Dubliners are a group that have been somewhat lost to the american Irish-folk scene, but perhaps that was not entirely an accident.  I once heard the band’s fiddler John Sheahan explain how when they came to United States to play the Ed Sullivan Show.  Sullivan refused to allow them to play their hit “Seven Drunken Nights”, a playful song with a lyric not befitting Sullivan’s famously stringent moral standards.  The band played something else instead, but the experience convinced them that the States were just too stuffy for their brand of raucous pub music and they never really tried to break into the market again.  In hindsight, it was probably the best decision they ever made because the Dubliners and Luke Kelly certainly didn’t need any restraints.

Rather than present a song from Luke Kelly himself or the Dubliners, I would like to present you with a wonderful tribute to Kelly by a great singer named Billy Mulligan.  We presented Mulligan’s “Song for Luke Kelly” some time back on the APHR JukeboxClick here and enjoy!

by Dave McBride

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