Goodbye Tommy

clancybros300.jpgTommy Makem died this week.

I had the pleasure of seeing Tommy perform a few times in Washington (The Four Ps on Connecticut Ave) and it was a blast. I wish we’d been a bit more mature (smuggling brandy in so that we could add it to our cokes) but when we weren’t singing along, we did take a moment to notice the father-son pairs getting smashed together in the European style of singing in a pub and stumbling home to leave the house a mess for Mum.

My favorite Tommy Makem story, however, didn’t have Tommy in it. I was on my first business trip ever, sent to NY from DC by the non-profit I worked for at the time. The day trip turned into a multi-day trip, and I wandered into the (now defunct) Tommy Makem’s Irish Pavillion. A very typical bar at the front, with a performance space at the rear.

I diligently sat at the bar, ordered a Guinness and a chicken and leek pie. A few minutes later, in walked an immaculately dressed, older black woman, and a somewhat flamboyantly dressed younger black man. They say next to me and the woman asked what I was drinking. I went into a bit of a rant about the wonders of Guinness, how it’s good for the soul, and how it seems to settle many things after a long or difficult day. The first one does, at least. Too many of them seem to create new problems.

And I thought that her voice was incredibly familiar, but couldn’t place it.

The chicken and leek pie arrived, and we talked some more. I asked about her home (Asheville, North Carolina) and she told me about the beautiful area and how much she loved living there. She was in town for a few days for meetings and couldn’t wait to get home.

She then asked the bartender for a Guinness and a Champagne-something-or-other for her effete companion. I toasted her when it arrived, and she seemed to genuinely enjoy it. We chit-chatted about New York, and the inevitability of something magical occurring wherever and whenever you traveled there. (I’ve since learned that this happens less often when you live there.)

The bartender came back, and she asked if Tommy was around. “No, he’s back in Ireland.”

“Please tell him that Maya Angelou, the poet (edit: I don’t know why she added that part), stopped in.”

We BS’ed for another half hour or so about her time living in the city, then I was off.

That’s my best Tommy Makem story.

He will be sorely missed. And I hope that his legacy outlives my children’s children.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Leave a Reply