We’re in the Swan Bar, just off Aungier Street. After Hogan’s – a slick bar not far from Grafton Street – the Swan is restful. When we came in, a regular asked where we’re from (“United States.” “Yeah, well we figured that.”) and how long we’re staying in Dublin. He says, “If you like it, tell all your friends. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut.” Words from an Irishman motivated by a recession? Or perhaps rather by pints of Beamish?
The bar itself is great – wood paneling, mirrors, framed jerseys, photos and calendars tacked up around the cash register. I scan the Irish Daily News – a total piece of trash – and sip my Smithwick, glancing up to the TV occasionally. A sign above the register proclaims, “Colour TV here mid-week.” Well it’s mid-week and it’s definitely color. This is my first exposure to late night Irish television. It’s raunchy and fun and the gentlemen next to me – in their 60’s and deep into their Beamish & Guinness – are fixated, laughing at the buxom celebrity guest star.
The sexagenarians exclaim, “3.40! For a pint of Beamish!” Hate to tell them, but the price seems pretty good to me, after having lived in Paris. I’ve left the paper open to the sports pages and we try to make sense of the rugby statistics. The bartender closes the blinds – must be closing time – but he makes no movement to shoo us out and he leans over the bar to help a regular with his crossword puzzle, affectionately calling him an old asshole. The Irishmen are getting more clever with each pint (“We’re American.” “Yeah, well we all have our problems!”) but we lack the same alcohol tolerance and, as we begin to mix up our colloquialisms, we decide it’s time to go home.