Someone contacted the office a few months ago to tell us that Carroll's, an Irish bar and restaurant on East Main Street across from East High, has the only jukebox in town stocked with Shane MacGowan CDs.
This sounded like a dubious claim, but one worth looking into.
Had MacGowan, a notorious sot, not only been barred from drinking establishments all over the globe, but behaved so badly that the digital reproduction of his unintelligible voice, truly a confusion of ones and zeros, was banned in some bars, as well? (If so, it would set precedence in the practice of bar law --- a punishment more severe than that meted out in Rosie's v. That Jerk-off, in which the owner of a bar in Portland, Maine, gave an offender a triple life sentence: "You can't drink here; if you have kids, they can't drink here; and their kids are barred, too!")
If I was finally going to try to look into this, I figured I'd start with Carroll's, naturally, just to make sure it had the goods. (Plus, it's almost St. Patrick's Day, and tradition dictates that the media cover Irish things. Every other day of the year, we just drink in these places.)
Sure enough, Carroll's has MacGowan in spades. There's plenty of Pogues, too (the Irish pub band with punk inclinations and far too many strong libations that made MacGowan an ale-house name).
Having verified this, and having procured the obligatory Guinness, I stood at a loss in the little pub, listening to MacGowan blather out a tune from the jukebox that had been silent while I'd waited for the stout to slowly settle. No one there needed to hear music, necessarily --- they had the melody of one another's lilting voices to savor. (Kidding, I only heard one brogue that night.)
Every seat at the bar was occupied, all dozen or so of 'em. There was a dining area the same tiny size as the drinking area, with a dartboard. A few families were eating over there. (The dartboard wouldn't be used for a couple hours.) Cardboard shamrocks spun from the ceiling, green garland hung from the walls.
The ladies at the bar were, well, ladies. A small group of regulars played a good-natured game of "poker" using the serial numbers on dollar bills to bid hands of some sort, but the rules of this strange Irish game were beyond my ken. Soon enough, a seat opened up. And before I'd finished a second stout, I was feeling quite at home. Carroll's is a friendly place, and the fish fry was excellent.
So, should you go to Carroll's on St. Pat's Day?
Before you go, consider this: Carroll's is small. Actually, it's just the right size for the neighborhood crowd that hangs there the other 364 1/4 days of the year. But on St. Patrick's Day, it must be like a boat fleeing the potato famine --- minus most of the Irish people. Granted, they'll be serving corned beef suppers, but you can always get the sandwich on some uncrowded night.
And for another thing, St. Patrick's Day is "amateur night" on the weekday drinking circuit. College students who actually study and other homebodies feel the rare effect of a worknight drunk and get giddy, disoriented in the sanctioned irresponsibility of it all, and lose responsibility for the contents of their stomachs. Call it St. Patrick's Purgation, if you will.
If I were you, I'd steer clear 'til Tuesday. Cheers.