There was a time not so long ago when Inwood had a thriving bar scene. Up, down and between Dyckman Street and 207th, there were some 100, mainly Irish, bars. While a few bars, The Piper’s Kilt, The Liffy, Irish Eyes, as well as a few others still remain, most disappeared as the demographics of the neighborhood changed in the 1960’s and 70’s.
In his tome to the neighborhood, “The Inwood Book,” John F. McMullen paid tribute to the taverns and pubs of his generation in a poem entitled, “The Bars.”
What follows is McMullen’s poem accompanied by a series of photographs and advertisements of the Inwood nightlife of McMullen’s generation. I hope this post sparks more memories and generates more photographs from an Inwood bar scene of not so long ago.
Reprinted with the permission of John F. McMullen-aka “JohnMac The Bard.”
I grew up in an Irish/Jewish neighborhood.
The Jewish lads went to school and studied;
the Irish went to the bars.
To be sure, many of us also went to school
and played sports and went out with girls
(no sex, though).
But we went to the bars
after softball games
before and after dances
to watch the Sunday football game
and for every other damn reason.
the Willow Tree, Erin’s Isle
Chambers’, McSherry’s, the Inwood Lounge
Doc Fiddler’s, Cassidy’s, Jimmy Ryan’s, Keenan’s Corner
Dolan’s, The Pig n’ Whistle, Freehill’s, Terminal, Old
Markey’s, McGolderick’s, Carmor, Rooney’s, Grippo’s,
Well, you get the idea.
We knew the bartenders by name.
George Lynch, Pat Gallagher, “Sunshine,” Georgie Costello,
Chris, Fred, Tommy, Mara, Dan, John, Joe, Kathy-in-Erin’s
and they all bought back. “The next one’s on me, Mac”
(and you never leave after a buyback).
We hung out there
we sometimes fought
…and we drank.
But we didn’t just drink in the bars
we drank in the park
we drank at parties
we drank at football games
we drank at dances (from a hidden flask).
Many slowed down as they grew up
many stopped altogether
and some were stopped only by the grave.
“The drink” was a macho factor.
If you told a fellow he had diabetes,
he’d stop taking sugar.
If you told some of my friends that they shouldn’t drink, they’d say
“What do you mean? I can hold my liquor.”
They planned to drink until they died
and they did.
I still think we had more fun
than the Jewish guys
(unless they were getting laid).
Again, thank you to John F. McMullen for sharing his poem. “The Inwood Book” can be purchased on Amazon. Also a special thanks to Claire Anne Gray of the Piper’s Kilt for providing the wonderful vintage photographs.
I encourage all readers to share their own memories of Inwood’s bar scene of old by using the comment box below. If you have any photos you would like to share please let me know. I will be happy to add them to this post.