The Irish Times' Generation Emigration project is on the hunt for the best Irish pub in the world outside Ireland. The following is one of the entries we've received so far. To read more, or find out how to nominate your favourite Irish pub abroad, click here.
We were the lads who lived upstairs, 13 of us in an unfurnished, apocalyptic, three-bed apartment that served as the living quarters for all of Brooklyn Shamrocks CLG’s summer transfers.
Who knew how many Irish lads had done the same before us? It made no difference to the Haven's owners Mike and Maureen Collins, their business partner Matt and all of the bar's patrons. The care and sheer warmth with which we were received every time we walked through those doors was extraordinary. We felt like kings.
On Sunday mornings at 7am they wouldn’t ask the $15 entry fee for RTE’s Championship coverage, and we’d have to fight Maureen off forcing extra helpings of her homemade fruitcake down our rasping throats.
Freddie, a Galwegian cancer survivor and Vietnam veteran who was at one time homeless for 13 years in the NYC subway, would be trying to hustle us at pool. Later, if he had sobered up, he’d stick the Dubliners on the jukebox in tribute.
The bar served as the unofficial HQ of the Brooklyn Shamrocks and also as the venue for an unholy night of celebrations when we brought home the JFC title in the summer of 2012. I saw elderly men cry that night. Men who had come over in the 60s and the 80s. Some worked from 6am to 6pm and after work would drive straight to the Haven for a shot and a beer.
But it wasn't all sunshine and farts. There was ugliness too, and alcoholism. It's no surprise to learn the cranberry juice scene from Scorcese's The Departed was filmed there. It was that kind of bar.
But the Haven was what it was; an Irish haven in a neighbourhood that had become increasingly Asian and Hispanic. It was more important to its patrons than we, a few lads out for the craic for the summer, could ever know. It was a home from home where everyone knew our names. I’m not entirely sure if they were glad we came, but we certainly were.
Think your favourite Irish pub abroad could claim the title of Best Irish Pub in the World (Outside Ireland)? Tell us about it by entering the competition here.