Up The Rebels

April 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments

April 24 will be the centennial of the Easter Rising Rebellion in Dublin which eventually led to the establishment of the independent state of Ireland. Among other events, there will be a gathering of Irish bagpipers at St.Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. HG will be sorry to miss that because there are few things more rousing than these bagpipers (specially when they are leading the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade) or saddening (when they play at the funerals of fallen police officers or firefighters). Alas, New York (principally Manhattan) seems to have lost the Irish flavor it had during HG’s younger days. HG misses the Irish politicians (Boss Flynn, Bronx Borough President James J.Lyons, Mayor Bill O’Dwyer, etc.) who had a human touch and a flair for creating consensus. HG misses the rich Irish brogue of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) chief, “Red Mike” Quills; the Irish tones of Fifth Avenue bus drivers; the Irish-tinged voice of the fighting liberal, Paul O’Dwyer. HG misses HG’s sandlot football teammates in The Bronx, tough guys with nicknames like Mick, Binny and Paddy. HG misses collaboration with his brilliant Irish public relations protege, Bruce Maguire, the president of the 61-year-old firm, Freeman Public Relations. HG misses the humor and insights of Irish journalists like Joe Flaherty (died at 47 of cancer). Like Jimmy Breslin (thankfully still alive and writing a Sunday column for the New York Daily News) he had an affinity for New York’s working class. Brooklyn-bred Flaherty left high school at 16 to work as a longshoreman and for years combined dock work with writing (he was a reporter for the Village Voice, author of four books and was the campaign manager for the Norman Mailer-Jimmy Breslin mayoralty ticket). Though the Irish are not noted for creative cuisine or fine dining, HG loved the food at Irish-owned Dinty Moore’s in Midtown (the only Irish joint with gefilte fish on the menu). HG misses the down to earth Irish saloons on Third Avenue (they vanished when the El came down and Third Avenue became the site of lofty office buildings and fashionable apartment houses). The saloons always had jars of hard boiled eggs and pickled pig’s feet on the bar (nice accompaniment to HG’s journalist dinner of rye whiskey with beer chasers). HG exhales a nostalgic sigh at the thought of saloon platters of corned beef and cabbage and open faced pot roast sandwiches smothered in brown gravy. The Irish seem to have vanished from Manhattan to enclaves in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester and Orange Counties, New Jersey, etc. Manhattan Isle isn’t the same without them.


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