PAGE THREE The MetropoList

PAGE THREE The MetropoList

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our march from A to Z through memories of the Washington that once was continues with reminiscences about a long-gone establishment missed by many.

Matt Kane's Bit of Ireland Pub

Matt Kane's was a fire inspector's nightmare but a music lover's dream. I discovered it when I moved to Washington in the 1970s, when it was the only Irish pub in Washington featuring live music on a nightly basis. Upon entering, patrons had to navigate creaky steps, which were littered with plastic buckets when the roof leaked. At the top of the stairs was the crowded room where the band played; it had an uneven surface and wobbly green tables.

Matt, a former prizefighter, it was said, had a gruff demeanor but a big heart. The waitresses were friendly, the beer flowed and the bands that Matt flew in from Ireland (notably Belfast, in Northern Ireland) played a range of music, including lively hand-clapping tunes and mournful ballads. Bagpipers entertained on Wednesday nights.

Patrons would linger long after last call; the night usually ended with Seamus, the bartender, announcing, "Time, gentlemen, time!" When no one budged from his barstool, he would ask the rhetorical question in exasperation, "Have ye no homes to go to?" There will never be another Matt Kane's, but I'm happy for those days and also for the fact that I bought one of the green tables for five dollars at the sale before the building was torn down.

-- Kerry McKenney, Arlington County

The music was terrific, and the Guinness even better. Seamus McIver presided over the bar, and if one of the Marines from Quantico who frequented Matt's got a bit unruly, Seamus would leap over the bar, grab the poor unfortunate soul by his collar and say in his wonderful Irish brogue, "You're outta order and you're outta here!"

-- Pam Lucey, McLean

Traipsing up rickety stairs in a decidedly unscenic building, we emerged into an unbelievably noisy, tiny space filled to the rafters with Kane diehards singing and downing pints with Matt, ruddy and smiling, presiding behind the bar. I discovered Harp, Guinness, the bit of sod and the most crooked floor ever walked on, and I loved every minute of it.

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