St. James Gate is the perfect spot on Sunday afternoons
Snow is again in the forecast but I pay it little mind with a warm mug of Irish tea in my hands between banging away at the keys.

We’ve been through worse and better lately.

Our wonderfully fattening day of thanks is behind us now as we look to Christmas. Colorful lights glow from neighborhood houses already.

Winter is truly setting in, right on schedule. If not normal, we are regaining some sense of balance again after losing a month’s time to Sandy Storm.

And we are only the lot who dealt with mere inconvenience, not those who lost love ones and homes. They are still in our thoughts and prayers as we continue to offer what aid we can.

On a small but still important note, Sandy Storm wrecked the personal schedules of those used to routine. This can be a fragile thing. Wedding were postponed (with deposits lost), reunions were cancelled and socials events were rescheduled.

Amidst the massive destruction, these may seem like small items but they are little big things to so many longing for their regular days.

We all need to get back on track.

After several local Irish dances and pub nights were postponed because of Sandy, it was refreshing to be able to attend the Nugent Association’s 79th annual dance.

Willie Lynch and his band played true to form as Jersey’s oldest Irish organization honor Irishman of the Year Sean McDonough and Irishwoman of the year Bernadette Sullivan.

More than 300 strong that night out, we celebrated our local Jersey Irish as we do each year.
The Nugent Association truly keeps the tradition alive.

A few days before the dance I marked another year of surviving up above. It was a day of working with some amazing firefighters gutting a storm-damaged house and deliver donations on Long Beach Island. I was lucky enough to top it off with an Irish coffee and splitting a bread pudding dessert with Honey Banger at The Blackthorn back home.

Not that I minded, but it was a mild birthday celebration. The parents, Honey Badger and her folks wanted to treat me to a Sunday afternoon out to better mark the day. Off to St. James Gate in Maplewood we went.

For the likes of me, St. James Gate is the perfect spot on Sunday afternoons between two and five o’clock.

That’s just after the brunch crowd with strollers and before the older folks pile in for dinner. You can lounge about and draw out a good slow lunch and the waiters don’t seem to mind. It’s also the time the trad Irish crew plays each week.

With a pint of stout firmly placed in front of me, and with the rest of the table folk content with their white wine, we settled in as the bow hit the fiddle strings.

Wexfordman Tom Dunne on the accordion led the action with fiddles singing and a bodhran keeping time. There was a bouzouki in there as well.

The music and craic were mighty on a Sunday afternoon after the storm of storms, and no one was thinking of Sandy as the tunes flowed passed the burning fireplace and back to us in the dining room.

Tasty food flowed across the table as well; mussels, soups, salads, juicy burgers and the lot. A fine short of Irish topped it off for my father and me.

What a brilliant birthday feast!

This Friday my pipe band is hosting their annual pub night a month late thanks to Sandy Storm. But it will be business as usual. As the perpetual student piper, I will photograph the happenings. Honey Badger and the lads will play the sets. Those gathered will enjoy it all.
It will almost feel like we are back on track.