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On a pint-sized stage

from The Irish Times Magazine, August 2 2008

AROUND EIGHT O’CLOCK, it starts to get crowded. I’ve been sitting here, with my bottle of Miller and my Newsweek, for quite a while. In this Connemara pub, I couldn’t look more like a blow-in if I had orange ears and five eyes.

But that doesn’t matter. I know, because I’ve been coming to Paddy Coyne’s in Tullycross for years, sitting by the fire in the cosy front room. I still smile when I see the sign over the bar: “No Credit Given to Women” (beside it there is one that reads simply, “No Credit”). Wednesday is the best night here.

As I finish my beer, summer tourists are drifting in – a French family, an English family, some Italian students . . . They come in the front door and go out the back, brushing past the nonplussed locals. Some of the locals get up and join them. Different accents and languages are heard in the queue to leave. Everyone (except children) pays €5 to walk out of the pub.

Outside, there is a small blackboard with “Smoking Area” chalked on to it, and a sign pointing towards the “Beer Garden”. Tonight, however, there is no beer garden. Under the hanging baskets and the old beer ads, there is a stage.

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