PATRICK MCVAY

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My Musings

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Ghosts of St. Patrick's Day Past

In the not-so distant yesteryear, when I wasn’t so much a wee lad as an underdeveloped adult, I’d find a random St. Paddy’s Day falling on a weekend and would drive home to meet mom and Dad at Coleman’s Irish Pub in Syracuse, NY. Syracuse wasn’t a town known for being Irish, at least in my mind; everyone I knew seemed to be Italian, and the people who weren’t (like me) wanted to be Italian (like me!).

But to hell with any other tradition on March 17th. Friends of all stripes were keen to pack the bars and throw up all over each other. Slight exaggeration. Still, it was a pretty tipsy scene, and there was often an earnest singer crooning “Danny Boy” on a cheap PA system, enjoying his once-a-year day in the sun. And outside Coleman's, the traffic light had the green on top and red on the bottom, blowing people's minds. 

At home, someone (not me) would put “The Irish Rovers” on the record player and we’d sing along to songs like “No, Nay, Never,” which the Dropkick Murphy’s reprised a few decades later. Later my Dad would fall asleep with a toothpick in his mouth (substituting for a cigarette) to John Gary crooning the very sad “Molly Malone” on our console record player.

Years later, when we kids were out of the house, my parents would throw wild parties where everyone would strip naked and drink Irish coffee, because that was life in the 1970s and 1980s. OK, no one ever stripped naked thankfully, but the Irish coffees flowed like coffee. Thankfully, most everyone was walking home (although, I’ve recently read it’s better not to be tipsy when walking).

All these years later, I find the old John Gary “A little bit of heaven” album still intact in my basement, deeply scratched, bearing my long deceased parents’ fingerprints, and coaxing me to YouTube to relisten to the old songs. Hard not to miss mom and dad on this St. Patrick’s Day. 

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