Jewish World Review
March 16, 2010/ 1 Nissan 5770
Needed: Irish Spirit
Their slogan wasn't "Irish need not apply." It was worse.
I speak of a battle I witnessed in Old Town, Alexandria, Va., a decade ago a battle that involved a popular Irish pub and a condo association.
A new landlord had purchased the building in which the pub, Pat Troy's Ireland's Own, had resided for 19 years. The landlord thought it more profitable to convert the pub space into offices and asked Troy to vacate.
Troy, an Irish immigrant known for his many charitable causes, bought a building two blocks away. He planned to relocate his pub there right next door to the condo association.
Until all hell broke loose.
In the Washington, D.C., region, upscale condo owners tend to be politically liberal people who champion multiculturalism. They champion "the little man" until he moves next door.
The condo people launched a political assault that makes the Chicago political establishment look like Quakers.
First came their "NOLUV" slogan. It stood for "noise, overcrowding, litter, urinating and vomiting."
Then came accusations about the behavior of the pub's patrons that they'd drink too many pints of Guinness and sing "The Unicorn Song" into the wee hours.
Then came the letter to city officials. It complained that "Pat Troy's pub isn't just a bar, it's an IRISH bar ... and it will affect our property values ... ."
The condo owners were nasty and rude, but the Irish and we of Irish descent can take it.
We can take the drinking jokes. Why did G0d invent whiskey? To keep the Irish from taking over the Earth. What's a seven-course Irish meal? A potato and a six-pack. What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake? One less drunk.
We don't even mind the one about the Irishman who finds a teakettle in the woods. When he rubs it, a genie pops out and grants him three wishes. The Irishman wishes for a bottle of whiskey; it appears in his hands. When he drinks it, the bottle automatically refills. He drinks it again, and it refills.
"What's that?" says the Irishman.
"That's the bottle of infinity," says the genie. "Every time you empty it, it will be refilled. Now, you have two more wishes."
"Give me two more bottles!" says the Irishman.
We don't mind "Pat and Mike" jokes, such as the one where Pat goes to confession. "Father, I've had an adulterous affair," says Pat.
"What is her name?" says the priest.
"I'm not telling," says Pat.
"Was it the McMannis lass?" says the priest.
"No," says Pat.
"Was it the McAlister widow?"
"No," says Pat.
"Was it the McGinness harlot?"
"Father," says Pat, "I'm not going to tell you her name."
The priest says, "Then I'm not going to absolve your sins."
Pat goes outside to Mike. Mike says, "So, Pat, did you get absolution?
"No," says Pat, "but I got three really good leads."
No, the Irish don't mind such jokes.
When the incredibly rude condo people succeeded in thwarting the move of Troy's pub to the building he had purchased Alexandria's city council voted the move down, 4-3 Troy didn't grumble and complain.
He did what resilient Americans used to do: He found another building, where his pub has done well ever since.
In an America in which everyone is so easily offended and ready to sue, it's wonderful that the Irish spirit lives wonderful that Irish humor is still enjoyable.
Which reminds me of this one: What is Irish and sits on the porch all night long?
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© 2010, Tom Purcell