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Tá mé ar meisce

Drinking, pool, and the pub

Notes on St. Patrick's Day 2002

There's a stereotype of the Irish that they drink a lot. I have to say, I can't refute this bias. The pubs are central to Irish life.

The practice of drinking is by no means a matter of always getting drunk, of course. But it's a normal thing to go out regularly for a pint. I left last evening when Syd's closed at 1:30, but my friends went on up the street to a late club. We were out Friday night as well. They were out later than myself, then, too. The stamina of these folks must be bred into their genes. I don't know how they do it—and like I say, I don't try to keep up.

I don't drink early in the day. But, it's Saint Patrick's Day. After the parade—and probably before, if I know the Irish at all—we'll have a pint. Maybe we can prevail upon Syd to open the pool table. Sometimes he closes it when the place is quite busy; he's a bit of a fuddy-duddy and doesn't really seem to care for the general element that the pool table can attract. He's more of a pipe-smoking gentleman, and prefers the customers who inhabit the lower part of the pub.

But, M_ and J_ are in good with him and his staff; the exception to the rule in Syd's head about pool-players. Truth is, the majority of folks who inhabit the small upper room are gentle folk, some of whom like to laugh a little too loud for Syd, maybe. It's a very neat little environment, to tell the truth. M_ and J_ are both excellent pool-players. Fun, but difficult when I'm on the table. I'm getting better but I'm nowhere near giving either of them a consistent challenge. They're really, really good.

Of course, the Irish humor is the real pleasure of Syd's, and the little pool room. They have an incredible skill for cutting to the bone, and "giving out" in a way that can be hilarious. Pulling no punches, but jabbing in a way that is genial at the same time. It's a laugh.

— 17 March 2002, Kilkenny