From an old website, Alien in Montreal
From outside the Old Dublin looks like it's been boarded up and forgotten, being situated at the back of an obscure car park as it is. But once you pluck up the courage to wander inside you find a smoky, dimly lit bar which may either have an Irish Band stomping away, or CNN playing in the corner.
But, seeing as this is St Patrick's Day, the place is jammed. And, this is whilst the parade is still going on. Later, when Paul Martin has driven past in his bullet-proof jacket, there will be a line-up outside to get in.
Qbert and I stare at the mass of bodies in the bar and sigh. We head up stairs where it isn't much better, but we can at least squeeze up to the bar and order a Guinness each.
We sigh, again, and stand around feeling displaced. It's always like that in a busy pub when you arrive, sober, and there are no seats, or even anywhere to stand. You just don't know where to put yourself. We found a wall, and flattened ourselves against it and drank in silence, watching the already half-drunk crowd sing along (in places) to the Irish songs being hammered out by the band in the corner.
The Guinness tastes like it has been watered down, but I can't tell if that's just because I'm drinking from a plastic glass – plastic does funny things to the taste of a beer. It's also expensive (for us), at seven dollars a pint. We winced when we paid.
Finally luck smiles upon us and we get a table vacated by some people sitting next us. Other stand-ees glower at us, as they have obviously been waiting for a seat much longer than us. Ah well.
Once we sit down, we're part of the crowd, and gaze at the people arriving and looking lost in the same way that people looked at us earlier.
Relax, drink the pint, order another, smoke some cigarettes.
People start to get drunk. There is dancing in the already crowded aisles. The dancing is of the kind done by people who think they've seen Irish dancing on the TV once, but can't quite remember how it goes. But it's enthusiastic, and the crowd loves it.
A group of six or seven early twenty-somethings join our table. They sport an interesting array of facial hair often seen on people that don't have to wear a shirt and tie every day and face a dull, conservative boss. They shout, very loudly indeed, at every opportunity, and offer a toast at almost every mouthful of beer taken. Soon we're toasting with them, and a couple of pints later, we're even whooping a little too.
I have a conversation with the girl sitting next to me. Her English isn't very good.
'What I call Ireland boy?' she asks me.
'What?' I say.
'What I call Ireland boy?' she repeats.
'A boy from Ireland?' I ask.
She frowns, 'Okay, so he is an Irish ?'
I shake my head, 'No, he is from Ireland, he is Irish.'
She doesn't understand, so moves on. 'So Spain boy?'
'A boy from Spain?'
'Aaaah, so he is a Spanish?'
'What? No, he is Spanish, he is a Spaniard.' I say, wondering if Spanish people still call themselves Spaniards, which brings to mind images or galleons and buccaneers.
This goes on, all around Europe. She wants to know how to refer to all the boys in Europe. But, we're drunk and it's fun.
At this moment, just as she whispers in my ear and puts her arm on my shoulder, I look up and see my wife, newly arrived, staring at us. My wife is good at entering at moment like this, when things look worst...
Old Dublin Facts
1. 'Vieux Dublin' and 'Old Dublin' – same place. 2. Address: 1219 University St (back of car park), Montreal, QC H3B 3A7. 3. Tel. 514-861-4448.