– Frank McNally on literary and alcoholic New York

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One for the road

Ireland News, Ireland Headlines

In New York a few days ago, like Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend (1945), I paid a visit to PJ Clarke’s tavern on Third Avenue. Similarities ended there, I hope.

The many celebrities who have frequented it down the decades include Frank Sinatra and song-writer Johnny Mercer, whose experiences combined in one of the classic ballads of lost love. The nearest I got to poetry while there, by the way, was when discovering that our waitress, a former Angela Fitzpatrick, was from Cavan.

After posting a picture of my travels there on Twitter, I was contacted by Glenn Johnston, a man I knew only through that platform – and mainly for his prodigious collection of Joyce’s books. Then there was Brendan Behan, whose shorter stay at the nearby Chelsea Hotel in 1963 is immortalised on a plaque there, quoting the dedication from a book he wrote on the premises: “To America, my new-found land: the man that hates you hates the human race.”

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