Column #68 Norfolk, Virginia
February 1, 1999
In downtown Norfolk, on what’s called the “fashionable Granby Row” (though it’s hard to figure why) is an Irish pub not unlike those to be found in the center of Dublin itself. Called Mo and O’Malley’s (131 Granby Street), this two-story neighborhood haunt is definitely a stop worth making if you have a hankering for a good game of darts and a nip of Guinness but just don’t feel like making the drive to Virginia Beach.
That was exactly my plan last night. Loaded with a list of the many fine darts bars in Virginia Beach (The Jolly Frog, Tango’s Tavern, the Kempsville Inn and Frankies, to name but a few), my intent was to grab a quick beer at Mo and O’Malley’s and then head on. That all changed when I walked in the door. I’m not the slightest bit disappointed.
Mo and O’Malley’s is a simple place. The first floor sports a long rail bar on the right, a half-dozen booths on the left and a decor that, as I’ve suggested, must have been imported from somewhere in the old country. The tables are green. The carpet is green. The ceiling is green. Even the top of the bar is green. The little eyes of dozens of leprechaun figurines peer out from various nooks and crannies. Behind the bar a Notre Dame pennant clashed with my scarlet and gray Ohio State baseball cap.
Up the stairs in the rear and past numerous framed sheets of old Irish songs of rebellion (“Tipperary Far Away”, “Wind that Shakes the Barley”, “Kelly the Boy from Killanne”) is a room with three dart boards and just enough tables to rest your choice of Guinness, Harp or even Murphy’s Irish Stout from the bar below. On Mondays and Tuesdays the joint fills up with league darters. Last night, fortunately, was a Thursday so the boards were free. I managed to drink the night away and even throw some decent darts with a few of the regulars, all of whose names I have forgotten. This is definitely not, as the Irish song goes, “The Pub With No Beer”.
So, after a couple of hours of throwing alone and sampling the grog, this guy (“Roddy McCorley”, perhaps) comes up, slurs an introduction, and asks me if I want to “Whack Fol the Diddle.” Who, me? Wacker as I am, from way back (don’t tell my mother), I was more than pleased to oblige.
As the night wore on I became absorbed in this little Irish world. My darts flowed with “The Juice of the Barley” to the rhythm of old Irish folk music. With my new-found friend I threw “Easy and Slow” through a good dozen games of cricket before the place began to fill up.
About 10:00 pm we issued a challenge. “Come All Ye Tramps and Hawkers” we shouted into the burgeoning crowd of darters. Roddy and I were ready to take on all comers and send them “Walking in the Dew.” And so they stepped up, a team at a time — these “Little Beggermen”, these “Many Young Men of Twenty.”
First up, and first down, were “Matt Hyland” and “Sam Hall.” Then “Joe McDonnell” and “Rory Murphy.” About 11:00 p.m. “Willie Gannon” set his “Jug of Punch” on the table as his partner, “Danny Ferrell” stepped to the line and fixed his grog-hazed “Irish Eyes” on the board. Still later “Patsy Fagan” and “Molly Malone” stood up for a game or two.
It was near the midnight hour (whoops — where did Wilson Picket come from?) that “Admiral William Porter” strolled in (not surprisingly, as Norfolk is home to the largest naval base in the world) with “Three Lovely Lassies from Kimmage.” “I’m the Twang Man,” he said. Huh?
The Admiral was good. I’ll give him that. He won the wack. He took two straight and then a third just for good measure — one for each of the lassies on his arm. Yep, the Admiral knew a lot about twang. And grog.
As the morning dawned and as my friends sang along to “Danny Boy”, I edged through the crowd, out the front door and into the early morning air. Slowly I headed towards the shore of Chesapeake Bay. It was time to walk off the grog and my defeat in the dew in “The Bog down in the Valley-o.”
From the Field,
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