(This is a slightly-edited encore post, for St. Patrick’s Day — I like the Corrigan Brothers’ droll tune.)
I’d forgotten about the birthers’ greatest nightmare — Obama’s got Irish blood in him!
Democratic Underground features a series of photos of President Obama with an Irish cousin at one of my favorite old haunts in Washington, the Dubliner.
President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness with his ancestral cousin from Moneygall Ireland Henry Healy, center, and the owner of the pub in Moneygall Ireland, Ollie Hayes, right, at The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub and Restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Washington (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Many great memories of the Dubliner, including its own great business success.
In 1974, when I interned at the Senate, the Dubliner was just a small bar on the first floor of the Commodore Hotel. Rocky Johnson of Sen. Mike Gravel‘s office, one of my roommates, introduced me to Guinness. The Dubliner was the most reliable source in D.C. at the time. The bartender was a guy named Paddy. It was never crowded — and they had good fish and chips with a fine, imported malt vinegar. I wasn’t exactly a regular, but I made
several a lot of visits.
Ironically, for my summer job later that year with the Louis August Jonas Foundation, we had a trip to D.C. planned with about 16 “boys from abroad” and the designated hotel was the Commodore — it was cheap and met our needs, being close to the Capitol. I was asked to chaperone, and happily went. So Freddy Jonas, the great benefactor of the foundation and Camp Rising Sun, and I could sneak down to the Dubliner for a nightcap after the boys were asleep. Michael Greene, the foundation’s executive director at the time, warned me that Freddy would always ask if you wanted a second drink, but Freddy would not take one himself — and so, of course, neither should staffers.
One night while Freddy and I were capping off the evening we ran into a friend from my interning, Avis Ortner, a former rodeo barrel rider who had starred in a Kodak commercial series, and who worked in a Washington law firm. She and Freddy struck it off very nicely. I was surprised at how much Freddy knew about horses, and the questions he had about rodeo riding. At some point in the evening he asked me if I were going to have a second drink, and of course I declined. “Well, you only live once. Avis and I are having a second one, and you should join us.” People who knew Freddy well still don’t believe me when I tell them the story. But it’s true. It’s the magic of the Dubliner. [Is Avis still cleaning up at bridge in D.C.? [Yes!]]
I was back in D.C. in 1975, again with the Jonas Foundation bunch, and again at the Commodore. The Dubliner had a successful year, and had taken over the small cafe/dining room next door to bar.
In 1976 I visited again, and after a very successful year the Dubliner kicked out the gift shop of the hotel and opened a second bar there. It was crowded on weekends.
In 1979 I moved to D.C. Within a couple of years the Dubliner bought out the Commodore. You couldn’t get a seat at the bar most nights. St. Patrick’s Day 1980 the line wrapped around the block, and though the place never had a great or large stage, the live act was the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem, if I recall correctly.
Reconstruction and massive redecorating made the hotel into a great stop, and a sometimes pricey room. Eventually the bar company sold the hotel, but kept the location for the bar. After Kathryn and I got married, we’d walk over to the Dubliner for lunch at least a couple of times a month, and the fish and chips at the Dubliner got better. I may have done in half the cod from the Grand Banks all by myself.
We’ve been in Texas now since 1987. I miss the Dubliner. Have been able to make it back only a couple of times. Obama’s lucky he could get in, on St. Patrick’s Day. I hope he appreciates his luck.
Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.