Friday, March 13, 2009

O'Lunney's Times Square - After the Parade

O’Lunney’s Three Sisters - On the road to Donegal

Dear Postcards from New York Reader:

The word “Failte” (Welcome) over a wide arch greets you as you enter; but right now, it’s a sure bet the line outside will be long, and the noise from within loud and raucous. If you are in search of the distinctive flavor of Ireland, you’ve arrived at the right place. Make friends with other folks while on line, O’Lunney’s is worth the wait.

In a city with hundreds of Irish “Pubs” (primarily bars where small tables cramped against narrow walls are commonplace), wide and spacious O’Lunney’s, a buzz with the lively conversations of local and out-of-town revelers, and waitresses maneuvering between tables, has a warmth and ambience one would usually find in a “Public House” on Ireland’s West Coast.

There, the stark haunting beauty of the landscape (see the photograph above) and the lack of entertainment choices make a Public House (Pub) the place where families, with children and dogs in tow, spend hours around a blazing fireplace catching up on local news over a hearty meal with friends and neighbors.

For generations the O’Lunney’s have been Pub owners in Ireland; Hugh O’Lunney likes to say he was born into the business. His three sisters are all Pub owners, while Hugh’s daughter Maureen continues the family tradition here in America. You’ll find her at her dad’s side managing staff and making you feel welcome. This year they are celebrating 41 years in business.

A native Irishmen, Michael Connolly, introduced me to O’Lunney’s years ago. It was the place to go when he felt nostalgic for home. He was sure to meet friends or strangers who quickly became friends over a pint of Guinness. Bright colorful flags of the six Celtic nations (can you guess what they are?)* proudly hang from the walls not far from a portrait of Bobby Sands (This is IRA Country). One can catch up on local news from County Mayo flipping through hometown papers like: The Irish Independent, Western People, Day &; Night and The Irish News.

Leave those papers for another day; St. Patty’s is not the day to catch up on news. Don’t forget to eat something before you down another pint. Savor a taste of Ireland; try the Shepherds Pie, Fish and Chips, Chicken Pot Pie or Corn beef and Cabbage. Servings are big enough for two and will prevent a hangover tomorrow. Sips of frothy Irish coffee make a delicious finale to a festive day.

La Fheile Padraig**

Jacqueline Cable
For Postcards from New York

Tullan County Donegal Today


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Address to remember: O'Lunney's, 145 West 45th St, New York, NY 10036, 212-840-6688,

Directions: From Times Square walk north to 45th St. See O'Lunney's sign right off Broadway.

*The six Celtic nations: Scotland, Wales, Brittany, the Isle of Man, Devon and Cornwall, and Ireland.

** Happy St. Patrick's Day (Gaelic)

Photos courtesy of Maureen O'Lunney

© Copyright 2007-9 The Cable Group

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Special Way to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Bagpipers on Fifth Avenue

----A Postcards from New York Encore----

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

Next Tuesday the sounds of bagpipes will usher in one of the city's most festive Holiday celebrations. Wear something green and claim Irish heritage for a day.

Mayor Bloomberg and Cardinal Egan will kick things off as thousands line Fifth Avenue, from 42nd to 86th Street, to watch the parade. Long before it ends, every bar and pub in the city will be packed with lines of people trailing out the door as the Guinness flows freely.

Amidst the spirited revelry, gaiety and leprechaun hats, it’s easy to forget the reason for celebration, the Patron Saint of Ireland’s feast day. Look closely at the cumbersome pipes carried proudly by men in colorful kilts, the tartans of their clans; Those pipes have witnessed three thousand years of Celtic History. their shrill haunting music mirror not only the lush beauty of the land from which they come, but the lilting rhythm and cadence of the Gaelic language.

Make this St. Patrick’s Day a special memory. Unless you visit the far reaches of the Irish Isles or Scotland’s Outer Hebridian Islands, you will not get to hear this live. Experience the rare beauty of the Celtic language first hand at a Mass sung in Gaelic at St. Agnes Church steps from where the parade begins. The tiny Church, tucked away on 43rd Street off Lexington Avenue, is a beautiful setting for the 9:30 AM Service. Get there early, this promises to be a standing room only affair.

A few words on Ireland’s Patron Saint.

Born on the West Coast of Britain, present-day Wales, around 385, as a boy, Patrick narrowly escaped death when Celtic pirates raided his village. Abducted, taken to Ireland, then sold into slavery, he spent several years of privation and hardship among pagans whose language he struggled to learn in order to survive. As a young man, he risked his life to escape his captors, negotiated passage on a ship sailing to Gaul (France) and eventually found his way back to his family. Years later, in 432, he returned to Ireland as a priest determined to bring Christianity to the people who had enslaved him. His feast day and the soaring Cathedral built to honor his memory celebrate his success at turning a bad experience into something wonderful.

Happy Saint Patty’s Day.

Jacqueline Cable
Postcards from New York


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Address to remember: St. Agnes Church, 141 East 43re Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10017, 212 682-5722.

St. Agnes also offers Latin Mass in Gregorian Chant every Sunday at 11 AM.

Directions: From Times Square
MTA 7 or S (Shuttle) to Grand Central Station, walk one block west to Lexington Ave, one block north to 43rd St. Bus: M42, M104 to Lexington Ave.

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    © Copyright 2007-9 The Cable Group