SAY IT PRETTY -- The Blarney Stones. (Leprechaun P-Grn.)

Maureen, Maureen At 16 the queen Of the Ulster night scene .

The guy next to me at the bar is singing into his glass. He's somewhat drunk. It's what you would expect on the night of Saint Patrick's Day. I mean, here I am, having followed a late parade into Flynn's Place to slosh down Cousin Errin's mulligan stew.

I lean close to my neighbor, who stops his song and grins.

"Name's Michael," he says. "You like the Rolling Stones?" His shoulders sway.

"'Maureen, Maureen...'"

While trying to place "Maureen" in the Rolling Stones' repertoire, I finish my drink slowly.

"They are -- were -- the best," Michael announces. "Better than Rod Stewart or Elton John or stephen Stills."

Michael's musical tastes obviously run to more than "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

"But this group has it over the Rolling Stones," Michael continues. "Leave it to the Irish. I mian, they know rock. Not acid or hard. And not country rock or blues."

Michael is considerably drunk, I decide. But what do you expect at Flynn's Place onn the night of Saint Patrick's Day?

"Poor Mick. Outdone by an Irishman." Michael hits my shoulder and snorts approvingly. I drain my glass and refill it. Michael takes my arm and looks me in the eye.

"You know how they got to Washington?" I shake my head.

"Ryan -- he's the guitarist -- he says they came up through a transatlantic pothole at the intersection of Shannon Place and Providence Road. 'But what a way to travel,' he tells me." Michael picks up his glass. "Let's drink to that pothole!" We do.

"Michael," I say, "who came up through that pothole?"

Michael studies me. He hesitates. "The Stones," he says finally, "the ones who make Jagger ancient history. They call themselves the Blarney Stones. From Cork. 'Say It Pretty' is their current album."

I decide that Michael is not only saturated, he is crazy -- not what you'd expect in Flynn's Place on the night of Saint Patrick's Day. Just then there is a commotion at the bar to our left. I look around the bottles and see three littlle red-bearded men climb up onto the counter. Not one is over two feet tall. They wear top hats, highheeled black patent-leather shoes and green sequined suits buckled broadly in black at the waist. The drummer seats himself behind the guitarist and the guy on bass, and leads into a heavy beat that becomes "Maureen, Maureen." It sounds familiar. I reel to the pounding outside my head that syncopates perfectly with the one inside. I am mesmerized by the shimmering green.

When the music stops, Michael and I shout wildly for more. The group responds with "Dance Little Lassie" and "Green Sugar."

"Michael," now I have him by the arm. "They're terrific! That sound. I mean, you are right. This is rock! Not acid or blues. It's not fundamental. It isn't punk. It's..." I realize I don't know what it is.

"Michael, what is it?" I demand.

Michael is not listening to me.

The Blarney Stones shimmer all green into their final number and it comes to me.

You would expect it at Flynn's Place on the night of Saint Patrick's Day: It is Irish. It's Sham Rock.