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Crawling Irish New York: Swift Bar

It is Tuesday night and I am still standing. It is actually not the drinking that does you in. It is the late night navigation of the New York subway system. Last night it took me an hour and a half to get home. Partly it is that fewer trains are running; but it is also all the repairs and shifting around of trains that happens at night. I often wonder if the City is in cahoots with Yellow Cab to make getting home late at night on the subway such a miserable prospect that you would rather reach into your pocket book for $30 to travel the length of the island.

Nonetheless, I arrived at the Swift Bar with time to spare: time enough for a warm up pint or two before the music. Even without music it is a fascinating bar to drink in. The place has a Victorian look in keeping with the Jonathan Swift theme.

An impressive old style bar
Photo: D.Amon, all rights reserved

The truly unique part of the bar are the murals. I photographed one small section of the main mural. It is filled with detail and humour enough to keep your eyes wandering over it until you have had too many pints to focus or until they have settled on something lovely and drinking beside you.

A ghostly presence in the mural
Photo: D.Amon, all rights reserved

The session itself is usually quite large and with an audience to match. This particular night was pretty dead although the music was as good as ever. I have been in this bar on standing room nights with musicians several seats deep around the main table. It is also not unusual for touring musicians to stop by. The last time I was here I came by with singer Niamh Parsons (an old and dear friend of many years standing, so go buy her records!) after her tour gig. Athena O�Lochlainn, a well known fiddle player once with Sharon Shannon’s band also happened to drop in. It is that kind of session (Yes, I know Sharon too).

Eamon O’Leary plays piano… as well as his usual banjo, guitar and Mandolin.
Photo: D.Amon, all rights reserved

6 comments to Crawling Irish New York: Swift Bar

  • klingsor

    Y’know, all of Dale’s picture make the page really slow to load, even with broadband. Isn’t it possible to put them under a fold?

  • Matra

    Unfortunately “Irish” Plastic Paddy pubs in NY are famous for their fascist anti-British atmosphere. Even some just off Times Square (ie tourist bars) have all kinds of Irish Republican paraphernalia. Since I can’t imagine New Yorkers (notorious for their closed-minded leftism) tolerating a pub with a Red Hand of Ulster I don’t see why it is acceptable to have the Catholic Irish tricolour and pro-IRA pictures on the walls of any pubs in that city. Even the Southern BBQ restaurants in NY don’t have symbols of the South such as the Confederate Battle Flag because they are deemed racist by the PC set. Yet the flag of Irish Catholic supremacy (not to mention Nazi collaboration) is everywhere. Until Irish NY (including Congressman Peter King) makes amends for their crimes against British civilians I don’t see why a single British citizen should give a damn about NY Irish-American 9/11 victims or spend money in Irish Republican pubs.

  • Dale Amon

    And in what way does an Irish bar, with irish born bartenders and mostly irish born musicians differ from the Brazilian, Dominican, French, Italian… etc establishments of NYC which also show their flag of origin?

    Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

  • Graeme

    Sorry to be off topic, but does anyone know what on earth is going on in London at the moment? Is this terrorist attacks or what?

  • dsquared

    I think that the idea that a “Victorian” look has anything to do with Jonathan Swift is a bit out on the dates.

  • Joe

    Brainless comment deleted by Admin