It was the informal opening night of still another Gaelic saloon. This one called "The Irish Times," when Mike Kelly, all 6 feet and 200 pounds of him leaped up on the brand new bar and danced a jig along the whole length, kicking over customers' glasses in his happiness.

If his spontaneity seemed overdone, then it can be said that the completion of the saloon was the culmination of s lot of hard work that Mike, along with his brother Hugh and a partner, Jim Dolan, put together to bring the place to life.

"I always wanted a saloon of my own just like the one I remembered back in Ireland," said Hugh Kelly with a gap-toothed grin showing the happiness of a man who had just won all the money in the world. "So I built one, we hammered every nail in the place."

The restaurant that Kelly bought was the Luau Hut, a pina colada type of hangout for people looking for Polynesian meals and sweet drinks.

The interior was very dark and romantic looking, making one expect Dorothy Lamour to come peeking around one of the fake trees with the plastic coconuts.

Jokes flew around the bar circuit as to what Kelly would call the place and he said, "I thought of 'Trader Mick's or 'Tu-ra lu-ra Luau', I guess they thought I was going to serve sweet and sour spuds."

It took a lot of work to change the place from Polynesian to Irish.

Born on a small farm in Langford, Ireland, 33 years ago, the oldest of five children, Kelly is a big man, with a hairdo that always looks like he just stepped out of a shower.

He talked about his father and the independence he loved. His father said, "I want the right to set the clock when I want to."

He talked about the stubbornness of his Irish mother, who believed only letters should be delivered in the mail and getting a bill from the electric company was an infringement of her privacy.

"The only letters she wanted to open were the ones with the stamps askew," said Hugh. "It meant the friend sending it hated the man on the stamp."

Strong on education, his parents sent him to Gormanstown, a school run by the Franciscan order in a 14th-century castle.

"We studied all the languages, every day," said Kelly in his delightful Irish lilt. "Latin, French, three dialects of the Irish language -- it went on for five years."

Before the final exams Kell made a promise that he would hoin the order. but he hid his real thoughts from the weekly confessional. "If I failed the final exams my parents would kill me, if I passed, the church would get me so I ran away to America."

Living, with a saloon-keeping cousin in New York, he enrolled in a drafting school and upon completion of the course wound up delivering blue prints.

His next venture was door-to-door magazine selling until he finally reached Washington.

A younger brother Mike, with a quicker eye for the dollar, was tending bar at a singles club called, "Gentleman Two. "He went to the owner and soon the two brothers were busy picking up the quarter tips.

Remembering the crowds and noise, Hugh said, "My ears were bleeding from the rock 'n' roll music, but I learned to like it after my hearing was gone."

The owner offered Hugh a chance to buy in and "I had mu first piece of the rock," he said. "Paid off all my debts, got the experience of running a bar, then closed it down."

Unemployed and sipping beer one afternoon while talking to bartender friens tom Costello, he was introduced to Danny Coleman who had just opened the Dubliner.

Danny let him buy in and after a few years he left with a hanodsome profit.

While at the Dubliner he would sit in the Luau Hut, drink beer, eat rice and became a good friend of the owners.

One night, Linda Tueng, wife of the owner, said, "Please buy this restaurant from my husband."

Hugh got his brother Mike, and long-time family friends Jim Dolan, who was in the plumbing business, mortgaged his home and they bought the place.

On the day I sat with Kelly his bar looked like an airplane hangar with warmth. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was blasting all over the place while a group of late lunchers harmonized Christmas carols.

Known for his generosity and love of people it was said, "If Jack the Ripper came in he'd buy him a drink and have a conversation with him."

The once boarded-up front windows were streaming with sunlight, a large pizza-sized wreath hung in the center of each window, a token of Christmas.

Two skylights glowed from the ceiling with bright light, the blackout paint from World War II having been cleared.

To add to the brightness he has 12 old milk-glass lamps picked up from an Irish school house that went modern.

The centerpiece bahind the bar is a 13-foot Victorian dresser, flanked by a pair of open closets from a London haberdasher where the bottles are kept. The three pieces cost $6,000.

For decoration, as if he needs trouble, Kelly has several blown-up cartoons from the 19th-century anti-Irish publication called "Smudge," depicting Irishmen as Simians.

Hugh described the saloon he wanted it to be. "I want a basic walk-in place with high-quality drinks, a simple sandwich, no continental flare. No fancy menu will be shoved into a customer's face."

He made a wide gesture saying, "Look at this place, I have always thought a lot of the value of controlling your own life. I put in 60 hours a week."

He called to the bartender for a round of drinks. You knew that Hugh Kelly got his bar for Christmas, and with an untypical Irish request he said, "Let's hear the Beethoven again. I love that symphony."