The Keane Edge by Brendan Patrick Keane
Saturday in New York means Lillies at Union Square for a trip in the time-machine
Posted on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 07:50 PM
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Lillie was certainly one in a million back home, but in New York, no one compares to her. Lillie was Ireland's Marilyn Monroe of her day, and Lillie's is New York's only authentic Irish Victorian public house.
Lillie's was literally disassembled in Ireland, shipped to Manhattan and reconstructed here, bringing the feel of old Irish urban life to the Big Apple.
What makes Lillie's so special--besides Lillie's ghost manifesting in antique mirrors after a few rounds--is the music.
Irish traditional music fits at Lillie's, and has been going from strength to strength for many seasons there. Saturday afternoons in New York now means, for lots of New Yorkers, walking-by or stopping-in to the big 19th century Irish bar on 17th street to get a taste of fiddle, pipes and flute exchanging their even older repertoire. There's nothing like it. Banjo-player Dan Neely who hosts any number of musicians each week, would note the usual presence of many different kinds of instruments.
The Gaelic ambience is utterly unique to Lillie's in New York, where the space seems to manifest the music like another of its ghosts.
To acknowledge the commitment Lillie's owners have made to giving Irish music a weekly home in the heart of New York, Frank McCole and Tom Burke were presented with awards voted for them by the Irish musicians organization Comhaltas at the recent region-wide convention.
Corkman of the Year and local recording artist, Donie Carroll presented the award at Lillie's last Saturday after the session ended and during the time when all the musicians who have played are treated to a small buffet from the restaurant's excellent kitchen.
Acknowledging the cultural contribution a publican makes when he supports traditional arts is vital to keeping fascinatingly beautiful traditions alive, in a place like Manhattan.
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