‘Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara taught me how to drink a Mortini in three mouthfuls’

Ross’ father is determined to make sure a birthday party takes place indoors in the Horseshoe Bar

‘The chap is your godfather, Ross! I was hoping you might even say a few words while we’re all still compos mentis!’

‘The chap is your godfather, Ross! I was hoping you might even say a few words while we’re all still compos mentis!’

 

So it’s, like, Saturday morning and I’m busy watching Sorcha disinfect the weekly grocery delivery when the old man rings to point out that today is a very special day. Yeah, no, it turns out that it’s, like, Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara’s birthday?

My old man’s solicitor, swing coach and emergency contact, the man who set him on his way in life by encouraging him to buy a floodplain in west Dublin, which he rezoned with the help of corrupt county councillors to build two thousand houses, some of which are still standing today, is turning 75.

“We’re having a few drinks,” he goes, “to mork the occasion! Two o’clock in the famous Horseshoe Bor!”

The old man is pretty much screaming in the maître dude’s face, going, 'No, we do not wish to see the outdoor terrace!'

I’m there, “And this affects me how exactly?” surprising myself at how like my daughter I sound sometimes.

He goes, “The chap is your godfather, Ross! I was hoping you might even say a few words while we’re all still compos mentis! He’s been a huge influence on my life, Kicker – on all of our lives! He taught me how to cheat at golf, how to drink a Mortini in three mouthfuls and how to unfasten your mother’s bra with just a thumb and forefinger!”

“Okay, I’m hanging up on you now. Actually, whoa back, horsey – did you say the Horseshoe Bor?”

“I most certainly did.”

“But is it not, like, closed?”

“Closed? What in the name of Hades are you talking about, Kicker?”

“Er, there’s a pandemic on?”

“Oh, you mean the plandemic?”

“Well, conspiracy or not, there’s no actual indoor hospitality at the moment.”

“Ross, the Horseshoe Bor stayed open for business during the famous Easter Rising! There were even some ladies who sought refuge in there – teacups a-jingling – when the bullets storted to come through the windows of the Lord Mayor’s Lounge! I see no reason why it should remain closed just because a One World shadow government is in the midst of divesting us of our human rights and freedoms in the cause of cultural communism!”

“So, what, you’re just going to, like, occupy it?”

He’s there, “Your godfather’s birthday wish is to spend the day in his favourite bor in the world, Ross – and that will be my gift to him!”

“I’m just going to grab my cor keys,” I go. “I’ll see you at two o’clock.”

By the time I get to The Shelly, they’re already in the lobby – we’re talking the old man, we’re talking Hennessy and we’re talking quite a few familiar faces from the Law Library, Portmornock Golf Club and the Justice for the Davy Sixteen Advocacy Group.

The old man is pretty much screaming in the maître dude’s face, going, “No, we do not wish to see the outdoor terrace! We intend to spend the day – and, I might as well put you on notice now, the night as well – drinking ourselves into a happy stupor in the Horseshoe Bor! And by attempting to restrict our access to said bor, let me point out, you are infringing our inalienable rights under the Constitution of Ireland, nineteen-hundred-and-thirty- what was it, Hennessy?”

“Seven,” the birthday boy goes.

“Nineteen-hundred-and-thirty-seven! Oh, that’s rocked you back on your heels, hasn’t it? Furthermore, by attempting to refuse us entry, you are stepping beyond your powers as a private citizen and assuming the role of a member of An Garda Síochána! Impersonation, you might care to know, is a crime under – help me out here, Old Scout!”

“The Garda Síochána Act,” Hennessy goes. “Two-thousand-and-five.”

“Do you know the relevant section?”

“Sixty.”

“Thank you, Hennessy – no further questions! Now, though it might not look like it, several members of this porty happen to be Justices of the Peace! Agreeable chaps that they are – well, most of the time anyway! – the last thing any of them wish to do today is perform a citizen’s arrest and take you to the nearest Gorda barracks! So I’m ordering you, in the name of the Irish Republic, and the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood and whatnot, to step aside!”

The dude doesn’t get the chance to because Hennessy just shoves him out of the way. He played loosehead for Bective Thirds back in the day, bear in mind, and still has the build. To huge cheers from the rest of the porty, he puts his head down and heads off in the direction of the Horseshoe Bor.

The old man slaps me on the back. He goes, “You see, Ross? Cowardly obeisance in the face of injust laws, unjust laws, has never changed a thing in this world! Quote-unquote!”

Ten seconds later, we all flood into the bor. Hennessy has his eyes closed and his head tilted back and his humongous nose twitches as he savours the air like a man who’s just been released from a 10-year prison sentence. “Leather!” he goes. “French polish! Jesus Christ, Charlie, I think I’m going to have one of my heart attacks!”

'Jesus Christ,' Hennessy goes, staring at the bor with his mouth slung open, 'there’s no drink!'

The old man’s there, “Well, let this be a lesson to all those who are still cowed by our fascist leaders and their so-called lockdown! We here today are the vanguard of the movement to take back our country from Tony so-called Holohan and his fellow peddlers of fear!”

There’s another cheer from the rest of the porty, followed by shouts of, “Hear, hear!” and, “Good point, well made, Chorles!”

The old man goes, “Happy birthday, Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara – 75 years young! Now, let me see about storting one of my famous tabs!”

And that ends up being the moment when the slight glitch in the old man’s plan becomes suddenly apparent.

“Jesus Christ,” Hennessy goes, staring at the bor with his mouth slung open, “there’s no drink!”

And he’s not wrong. The shelves, the fridges and the optics are all empty of bottles and there isn’t a single beer barrel attached to the bor pumps.

The whole crew stares at my old man like he’s a modern day Moses who’s led his people to a place that’s a lot shitter than the place they were before.

“There’s no cause for panic!” the dude goes. “I’ll just go outside and ask that nice chap if we can take a look at this famous outdoor terrace of theirs!”

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