Pawn the Coat

Friday afternoon for my father is pension day. This is the one day in the week that he gets to put on his peacock suit and fluff up his feathers. He steals  away into the city to collect his weekly allowance, all washed up and usually dressed in a shirt and tie. He isn’t normally a shirt and tie kinda guy but there is always that possibility of a potential meeting of an old friend as you come out of the GPO….”Howya Jack…your’e looking very dapper!”. You can’t let the team down now especially at this late stage in the game…always a parade even when you don’t feel like doing so!

I happened to be in Cork for the day so I accompanied him on this excursion…an essential part of his week. It just so happened that he had tickets for a tribute to Johnny Mercer in the Half Moon Theatre… he was even more immaculately turned out on this occasion. He was meeting my sister later on who was accompanying  him to this gig that was sure to be a good night. Park the car on Morrison’s Island outside the old Moores Hotel….no multi storey car parks for my father…dodgy places!!! This is a real old part of Cork full of history and as we shimmied down one of the lanes adjacent to the old hotel, my dad pointed out to two narrow windows….”Those windows have history ….do you know!”..he said with a twinkle in his eye. It turned out that back in the day this was an old dance hall in the fifties…the AOH(Ancient Order of Hibernians) used to run the place.  My father told me that the 2 windows were the toilet windows and one cold night an old comrade of his gained entrance to this nite club all dressed up in his long black crombie coat…Joe Wallace I think his name was…hair all greased back and ready for a goods night’s dancing. In order for my father to gain entrance also they needed to borrow Joe’s Coat so they passed said coat through the window of the men’s toilets …put the coat on and strolled right in. The coat was passed through a few times as far as I know. They must have been a bit shabby on the night in question…so the coat did the required job of transforming their appearance for that moment of inspection by the doormen!! Worked a treat!! He went on to tell me that “That’s where I first met your mother ….one night at a dance…”

My thoughts travelled back in time to those years when my mother and father first met…meeting in town for a dance or whatever thaey did back then!! It must have felt like yesterday for my father. I suppose it’s biitersweet that now he can only remenisce with his son and not his wife. I hope in the future that I will be able to act as a historian for my children when they come of age and hopefully my wife will be there to verify what I am saying to them!!

After he had collected the pension we met up with my younger brother and we decided to go for a quick afternoon tipple. We ended up in one of the oldest pubs in Cork…Sin E…this is a great place for a pint and a natter …one of those places that seems untouched by time….the old bar lady still there after so many years. It was a good ten years since I had set foot in the place but she was still serving behind the bar. This is a place that you have to visit if you ever pass through Cork…full of character with a blend of style that seems to be only holding on by it’s finger tips!! Inside here my Dad told me of another character he had known who had pawned his coat on a cold December evening to pay for a hot tip he thought was a sure thing. Sure enough he returned to my dad …who just happened to be waiting for him in that very pub …with no coat and no winnings!! The things people did back then!! I’ll have to try visit this place once again before the Christmas to reignite that sense of old world once again!! Nice music…cool people….posters from a bygone era on the ceiling….listening to stories from the bar….dark dusky interior….nice pints….aaaahhhh!! The likes of these pubs are few and far between…but we will always seek them out and find them…no matter what!!!


2 thoughts on “Pawn the Coat

  1. Ahhh! The dusty, dark, old pubs…wish my da and I had known about this one when we passed through Cork in May…we managed to find a few such as this and one of our favorites was O’Flaherty’s in Dingle…Pictures and the like covering every square inch of the place and some great music in the evening…meant a lot to my da to go and dig up these roots of ancestors long gone…cheers..

    • I had a very drunken night years ago in O Flahertys that ended up outside with 3 of us singing to a Garda who thought us very amusing altogether. I bet you it hasn’t changed all that much in 18 years…except now I’d be staying in a hotel!!!!

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