You can’t make old friends

I had a flashback this morning to being in my granny’s house in Co. Kilkenny. My Aunt Nano was still alive. She had this great record player that closed up nicely into a box, like a suitcase. And she had several records, mainly country music. Mainly Kenny Rogers. I was fascinated with Lucille and the man she left with 400 children and a crop in the field. Read more

Reminiscent of another world

What I know about living under Communism I’ve learned from books. I never lived it. But I can’t help wondering how those who lived that life and had relegated it to the past are feeling today. Read more

2020 Grateful 41: Could we wake up to a better world?

I’m on the train back to the village, having spent 24 hours in the city. I was very careful about who I met, where I stood, what I touched. Extra vigilant.  Extra, extra vigilant. Read more

To go or not to go, that is the question

I’m due in Budapest tomorrow. I had planned to be there because we were expecting visitors from the USA who are no longer travelling. And because they were going to be there and I had a workshop on Wednesday (now cancelled), and the Gala dinner on Saturday (now cancelled), I was going to be there for the week, too.

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Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD and POC, All Nine, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds

I did a double-take when I read my friend Takács Györgyi‘s post on Facebook saying she was now offering Access Bars sessions from somewhere on Ferenciek tere. It had been a while since I’d seen her and I obviously wasn’t at all current on what was going on in her life.  I read the blurb, was mildly curious, and being of the firm belief that we should support our friends in their endeavours, no matter how outlandish or ludicrous those endeavours might seem, I booked myself a session. Read more

Get your green on

Get your green on

St Patrick’s Day 2020 falls on a Tuesday. In countries where it’s a national holiday, like Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat, Tuesday parades will be in order. In Budapest, the parade and festival will take place on Sunday, 22nd March, but the day itself will be marked by the city’s Irish pubs (noted here in alphabetical order lest I be accused of favouritism).

What the Irish pubs are doing

Beckett’s Irish Bar and Restaurant, a beacon for Irish abroad since first opening its doors in 1994, is now six years in its new home on Liszt Ferenc Tér 11. Its namesake, Samuel Beckett, is probably best known for his contribution to the Theatre of the Absurd, Waiting for Godot. And I’m sure many have had Godot-like moments in this establishment. With a nod from the playwright himself who advised the world to ‘Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order,’ Beckett’s has quite the line-up, with U2 tribute band INKA-H at 8pm on Friday the 13th; a Six Nations rugby feast on the 14th (Coronavirus permitting), and then Sunday, they’re offering a Hangover Sunday Bloody Mary Breakfast Special with live music that night by John Murphy. On Tuesday, the day itself, there’ll be an all-day party.

Davy Byrne’s Irish Pub is having its first St Patrick’s Day in Budapest. Those with a literary bent might remember James Joyce mentioning the Dublin Davy Byrne’s in both The Dubliners and Ulysses. For many years, the Duke Street pub attracted some of the greats of Irish writing – Brendan Behan, Patrick Cavanagh, Myles na gCopaleen. It was known to serve Michael Collins and host meetings of the outlawed Irish government back in the day. The Budapest Davy Byrne’s (Jókai u. 4) is on track to making its own history. It has live music Saturday night after the rugby and on Sunday, 15th March, there’s a comedy night headlined by Irish comedian Brian Gallagher supported by Joe Dowlin and James Rankin. Start time 7.15pm. On the day itself, there’s live music from 7pm. On the 18th, a St Patrick’s Day themed quiz night will challenge those with a still-functioning brain. Paddy McMullen will be back with more music on the 22nd after the parade.

Jack Doyle’s Irish Pub and Restaurant recently celebrated 10 years in the city where it has carved a niche for itself on the tourist trail with many tourists and pub alumni coming back year on year. The original Jack Doyle had quite the resumé. The Corkman was a boxer, a singer, an actor, a lover, and a drinker. He was a name amongst names. He came to blows with Clarke Gable over actress Carole Lombard and his ex-wife Movita Castaneda would go on to marry Marlon Brando. Noted for saying, ‘a generous man never went to hell’, Doyle would have found no shortage of people to listen to his stories in Jack Doyle’s Budapest. JD’s has a full calendar with live music from 22:30 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and from 20:00 on Tuesday, the 17th. It, too, will be showing the Six Nations matches on the 14th, if they’re played. Located on the pedestrian street Pilvax köz 1-3, it’s best to use the street address of Varoshaz u. 10 if you’re in a taxi.

More to the day than drinking

If, over the week, you find yourself craving a full Irish breakfast but can’t face the thoughts of going anywhere near a pint, check out ÍRish Budapest on Kiss János altábornagy 54. This family-run café/restaurant caters for vegan, coeliac, and all other tastes. With Irish soda bread a firm fixture on the menu, this new venture has quickly gained a reputation for serving up the ould rashers and sausages with a side of Irish banter.

If you’re planning on making your own breakfast and but don’t want the hassle of baking yourself, get your  Irish soda bread and scones from Áran Bakery on Wesselényi utca 23. They taste as if they’ve come from an Irish mammy’s kitchen. Tesco stocks Kerrygold butter and Lidl does an Irish country butter that passes muster, so you’ll be set.

The glam side of the festivities

With the day itself done and dusted, celebrations will continue on Saturday, 21st March, with the St Patrick’s Day Gala Dinner at the Marriott Hotel hosted by the Irish Hungarian Business Circle and sponsored by Pannonia Bio. This annual Black-Tie event is a fixture on the Budapest social calendar and a great excuse to get dolled up. An evening filled with fine food, live traditional music, entertainment, and dancing, this year it features the Tóth-Mayo Duo, Kearney’s Dogs, and DJ Woods. In aid of the IHBC Charitable Foundation, proceeds will support local communities in Budapest and all over Hungary. To reserve a ticket, email [email protected]

And the festival begins

Sunday, 22nd March, is the day many people are waiting for: the 10th annual St Patrick’s Day Parade.  This year, the call to gather is for 13:00 at Erzsébet tér. The parade will depart at 15:00 headed by a band of pipers. With thousands expected to join the festivities, it’ll take about an hour to wend its way through the streets of Budapest. This is a free event for the whole family.

The Festival After-Party will take place at Akvárium Klub from 16:00 with all the ceol, damhsa, bia, deoch, agus craic you can manage. Yes, music, dancing, food, drink, and fun are the order of the day. Tickets are available now from the venue. 1800 HUF in advance or 2500 HUF on the day. The first 500 tickets get a free Guinness hat or t-shirt.

When the Normans invaded Ireland in 1066, they settled so well that they were described as Níos Gaelaí ná na Gaeil féin (more Irish than the Irish themselves). Over the last ten years, more and more Hungarians and people from all over the world have been joining the annual celebrations in Budapest. This year is set see a record turnout, so get your green on and be Irish for the day…or the week.

Lá ‘le Pádraig sona daoibh. Happy St Patrick’s Day.

First published in the Budapest Times 12 March 2020

And after we went to press, I heard that The Celtic Barber will be dyeing hair and beards green and will be serving their patrons Jameson and Guinness. Lads, there’s no better day to get a haircut or a beard trim.

And since then the Gala Dinner and the Parade and the After-Party have been cancelled 🙁 and best to check with the pubs before heading out on the day – so much can happen between now and then

Too much or not enough?

I’m on the train, heading for the village, one of many exiting Budapest this evening. The train station was busier than usual for Thursday afternoon. It seems as if lots of people are heading home to the folks rather than riding out the state of emergency in rented flats in the city. Read more

2020 Grateful 42: Memories of Rabbitt Carter

Walking down the village to mass yesterday, I noticed three women in front of me all in black. The men outside the church were in their usual spot – all in black, too. Himself was in dark colours but I was in a bright red sleeveless jacket over a pale blue jumper with a multicolour blue scarf. I felt a little bright. Read more

2020 Grateful 43: Grateful – the film

I’m back in my happy place. Since I got up this morning, I’ve only spoken to two people. One was himself. The second was a chap who says his name was Boris. I picked up my phone without checking the number and answered. It was Boris. Read more

2020 Grateful 44: As Lent begins

No wine. No booze of any kind. No cakes, sweets, or biscuits. No chocolate. No sneaky cigarettes. And I’m going to work out every day, be in bed by 10 pm, and get my steps in. I delivered all this in one roll. She looked at me askance and asked hopefully: Are you going to be away much between now and Easter? Read more