In these days of Weatherspoons, trendy bars for the ”hipster’ generation and watering holes for the anonymous and anodyne there is a part of Sheffield city centre that has three individual and special locals for those of a discerning nature. All of those are known to the Brave Porquos and are reviewing their security precautions and the current state of chastity of their womenfolk for when the Galicians ride into town later this year.
They are conviently sited in the city centre’s Celtic Fringe of Trippet Lane and Broad Lane in a location not far from St Maries Cathedral, St Vincents and at one time the Cop Shop. Seeing as we haven’t got any Bobbies these days that particular establishment has gone by the board -don’t blame me I didn’t vote for Reverend Billings as Police Commissioner- I wanted Dirty Harry.
Anyhow one of the one time drinking establishments for the Sheffield Force [remember we caught the Yorkshire Ripper not those gormless chuffs in Leeds] was Fagans -formerly The Barrel in Broad Lane and named after one of the lads in Bomber Command who put paid to a twat called Adolf Hitler.
Its run by a Sheffield Legend called Tom Boulding, his petite but feisty lady wife Barbara and an affable brown labrador called Twix -actually the only running Twix does is to the door when the lead appears.What can you say about Tom that’s not been said before? The most erudite pub landlord in Sheffield -the place is a cornicupia of memorabilia [do not search too closely my old friend Argie -you might find a Falklands Island Flag placed diplomatically after you buggers left the last time- Fagan’s that is not Port Stanley] including the Parachute Regiment and the Anti Terrorist Branch [Bell Book and Candle] as well the Poppy. Its a multifaceted place run by a ‘Man for All Seasons’. See him and me on ‘Human’s of Sheffield’.
But Fagans is a place for people from all over this shrinking globe where politics and football goes out of the window -actually they don’t enter in the first place. Its a place for music, beer and friendship with a group photo of ‘we happy few we band of brothers’ already on file.
But this interval before the Galicians latest World Tour the Celtic Fringe is gearing up for the wearing of the Green -St Patrick’s Day- like its neighbouring pubs Flynns-The Grapes and the Dog and Partridge. Be there or be square.
Dame Vera Lynn is 100 on the 20th March.
And There’s More.
St Patrick’s Day is looming and its timely that we finish this particular piece before the wearing of the Green. Sadly long gone are the days of the Red House on Solly Street of blessed memory with its Fine Wards Malt Ales run by Eileen Shannon with hair as red as Maureen O’Hara’s and where the Father’s from St Vincents would drop in for a drop of the hard stuff. Little wonder it was named the Irish Embassy- nowadays its an ‘Open All Hours Shop’ without the characters. No Arkwright or Granville or buxom Nurse Gladys Emmanuel here nor desirable milk lady for brief trysts in the dark mornings.
But the world moves on and on Trippet Lane we have the Dog and Partridge run by Connor and where the Porquos feasted on tapas and said goodbye to Sheffield the last time and to the focus of the Celtic or perhaps the Hibernian Fringe -the Grapes or Flynn’s. Ann Flynn who formerly ran the Dog and Partridge with her late husband Frank -a legend himself in his lifetime- is an icon of the Irish Community in Sheffield and together with Brendan Ingle -well Sheffielders of a certain age and outlook will know what I mean. Ann never looks any older and is a lovely, lovely woman and a shrewd businesswoman -she has established a dynasty with Frank Jnr, Lliam [Wednesday through and through’ ]and P J. The pub spotless, fresh flowers, Guinness that is Ambrosia and doorstop sandwiches and Scotch Eggs [well I did say the Celtic Fringe] like Mills Bombs. Ann is remarkably -shall we say- a little retiring -I recollect when we got her to have a photo taken with the Porquos but not when one of our out of touch Councillors once suggested that Trippet Lane and its vicinity be a zone of tolerance for the working girls!
Never was the Tricolour flourished so fittingly and proudly and nowhere so fitting for the wearing of the green but Flynn’s is much more than that -its a place where on Remembrance Sunday you wear your Poppy with as much pride after the Captains and Kings have departed, as the Irish Wolfhound will lead the parade from St Maries Cathedral tomorrow on St Patricks Day. You are happy in the knowledge that there is more that unites us than divides us in these rainy, storm lashed Isles and raise your glass to that aye and to the characters who you have known in these premises over the years. As Maurice Malone said ‘don’t let the music die’. It didn’t Maurice and neither did the craic -whether you are from Cork or not. In fact where you come from is irrelevant.
Join us again Porquos -in Fagans- Flynn’s and the Dog and Partridge. Beyond the Fringe isn’t the place to be.