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Buttercup said…
Dear Mike;
Words cannot describe how heart broken I have been all week after learning of your passing. We worked together for a long time at West Point and not once had a bad word between us. You taught me to laugh and take things as they come. I saw how strong you were when your son passed away. My life will never be the same, I will miss you coming in my office and most of all I will miss your booming voice and great presence.Thanks Sue for sharing him with me!
Always a friend-Buttercup!
Anonymous said…
On Friday, March 14, the first ever Irish Mouth will be presented at ARts on the Lake in Kent/Carmel. The lineup will include local and regional talent--musical and literary--who share a love for Irish culture. Join us that evening. More info? www.Arts on the
When I think of the Chapel, I can't help but smile. The memories the people and Jim's kind smile.

I may of been crude, rude and a bore. But for me Mr. Guinan's was more than a store.

To John & to Margaret, Kelly, Dean, Todd and more. I'm glad that I've met you and wished our time was much more.

Mr. Guinan I thank you for your words and your songs. To Capt'n Tom and to Ed, Much I can not convey. But Thanks can be hard for me to express.

Soon Summer will be here and the fall bicycle ride. God willing I'll be there support to provide.

But for Easter I trust God will be by your sides.

The final nights at Guinan's was possibly more than anyone thought they ever seen before. To those who I asked not to enter the doors, it was for your safety we feared (and not the age of the floors). The crowd was substatial the exits were few. Please forgive me if then I offended a few.

So those I haven't mention please don't think of me ill, but these limited space and volumes to fill.

Wendy, thaks for the book, the memories and much more.

A local guy said…
I grew up in the Garrison/Cold Spring area and had just started a new job in NYC. On certain nights of the week I'd get off the train in Garrison and walk into Guinan's with basically no money to my name and ritually started buying a soda and a candy bar before routinely trudging on foot up a steep hill in the dark, to a nearby AA meeting. I slowly started a fun, comically sarcastic dialogue with the white moustached man behind the counter who turned out to be John Guinan. One night while talking about our favorite rock bands, he curiously asked me where I was walking to and I figured the last thing this seemingly tough Irish guy running a bar would want to hear is an AA meeting, but he was gracious and congratulated me and said more people oughta to the same and we continued our conversation on favorite rock bands. I'm really sorry he's gone. I'll always remember my brief comical exchanges with him after a hard day at work.
Anonymous said…
Thanks to the Guinan family (surname and friends). You have touched a transient Army officer in more ways than you can imagine...thanks for the everlasting memories. I hope the spirit remains when I pass through your lovely land again.

...keep on smiling
Anonymous said…
I just finished reading the book over the Christmas vacation form school. I had planned to travel to Garrison to see Guinan's, only to read I am too late. So sad. I would have loved to have seen for myself just what the book described.
Anonymous said…
I just finished Little Chapel on The River. The people depicted in the book are engaging and endearing...and so it was with some sadness and not a little shock to see that one of the major players, John Guinan, has passed on. "The good they die young". My condolences to all and may the spirit of Guinan's live on!

Hans P. Bosse
Stamford, CT
Don said…
Just rereading Little Chapel and decided to blog. My wife, last Jan 27 saw an article in the NY TImes about Guinan's closing. We decided we must visit and came with her determined to get jim to sign her copy of the book. Not only did she get Jim to sign but most everyone else there. We cherish our copy of your book now often rereading the signings, matching them with characters from the book. We only regret not having your signature but than you so much for sharing and bringing this wonderful place to us all.
We hope to be at the reunion on March 11 and will bring the book if you will be there.
Hope you are well and we thank you again for sharing this with us
Don and Eileen Goodrich
Bethel, CT
Anonymous said…
hi wendy. i saw you filmong the meeting and i wondered if you were going to post it someplace and i found your terrific site. i was going to say something, but everybody seemed to tell the story better than i could. i don't understand why they want to spend 500k or so on the building. we redid our house and added ~2000 sqft for about 1/2 that price. as an old guinan guy, i hope the plaza guys can accept a compromise on this. i'm a numbers guy and, while one can get numbers on the charity i can't find anything re the for profit plaza which, as i understand it, owns the whole area and probably some other assets/land as well. anyway your site is great and good luck with all of this. clip bartow
Anonymous said…
Sorry to hear about Mr. Guinan. I only read the book, but felt like I knew him or wanted to.

He will be remembered.

Joe Marcklinger
Nantucket, Ma.
Anonymous said…
jim was my nans brother,i never new him but look forward to reading the thoughts are with his family

shaun proodfoot

Alex said…
I was just told about this book and can't wait to read it...I grew up in Garrison, and would go to Guinan's all the time...I moved from Garrison in 1975 while in high school, I do believe I went to school with some of the folks mentioned in the book...I miss Garrison so much, it was such a special place to grow up, which of course you don't realize until you're gone...

The Guinan's were a fixture in Garrison, and will be greatly missed, I was very sorry to hear about the passing of both Mr Guinan and John....will post after reading the book....Thanks
Alex Hatziemanuel
robert said…
Does anyone know how to get in touch with Billy Fitzgerald? I just finished the book and was surprised to read about him. I grew up with him in Ossining and lost touch over the years. If you know how to reach him, pass this along and tell him Wing is looking for him. Thanks
Anonymous said…

Great story, quickly from bigcity & tragic to the local everyday, a few beers, few stories, small town. Gives meaning to the commonplace, refuge of time. therapeutic for you to write, for us to read. Well done.


from the Millbrook book day fair
Suz said…
I have lovely memories of Guinan's... a beer after sunset, acting at the Depot, and the lovely folks who thrive at Garrison's Landing. Whenever I pass by on the train, it saddens me to think it no longer exists. Finally picked up your book and it makes those feelings even more pronounced. I wish... I hope? that someone will continue the tradition and create another venue for comraderie and tradition there. Is it possible? Who knows, but we need more such places in our lives. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
was a great place, 'tis time to come over and pay my last respects - two dolly partons that's what my uncle told me as he taught me how to cook a fry!
NYCKevin said…
I just finished reading "Little Chapel on the River" and was deeply moved by this fascinating portrayal of a town and its many characters. I live in NYC and have never set foot in Garrison. However, I feel a strong connection to this place and The Guinan family. The book is a tribute to a time when honesty, character, and service to community truly meant something. Then, I stumbled across this blog and found myself in tears when I discovered that Mr. Guinan and his son John had passed. I never met these men, but it would have been an honor and a privilege to have done so. Even though Guinan's is now closed, the memories and the spirit will live on. I plan on taking my wife and 11 month old son to Garrison so the vivid images in my head will come to life. I just want to thank you, Wendy, for bringing this story into my life.
Anonymous said…
Hi Wendy,
Thanks for the great read. Growing up in Garrison I visited Guinan's for one-cent tootsie rolls and fireballs, the paper with our family name on it, and then later for the atmosphere in the bar. My most vivid Jim-memory was of him pouring me a Guinness. When I remarked that it was the best beer I'd ever had, he quickly corrected me by saying "It's not a beer, it's a stout!" One of many happy memories of Garrison's Landing. -Wil
pegknits said…
I just finished reading Little Chapel and now found this website. How sad Big Mike, John, Jim and the Chapel are all gone. I feel a loss and I really have no right to. I wish I could have found you all earlier....... I will read the book over and over and keep visiting here to keep you all alive in my heart.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Wendy for writing such a wonderful tribute to Guinan's and those who loved and frequented it. Sorry that 9/11 is what brought you to discover such a wonderful place. Even sorrier that Guinan's is no more and the owner and his son are dead. I've given the book to several others who also enjoyed reading it. Sometimes i watch or listen to the YouTube videos and wish there could be another Guinan's somewhere. But no one could replace John and Jim and the rest of the family, friends, and the place itself right there on the Hudson. I think back to times i'd been there years ago and took it for granted! Darn if i'd only known ... Thank you again Wendy. I look forward to reading more of your writing!
Anonymous said…
I was a long time customer of Guinans. I moved away 5 years ago. I am now sad to find it not only has closed ,but Jim Has passed. My best to all family and friends who made every moment in that home away from home a permanent memory.
Hello Wendy,

I was outside of a bookstore one Sunday browsing a selection of books for sale, when I saw LCotR. It was a used copy which the store owner sold to me for a dollar. It's very ironic that I bought this book in a place that I consider my own little chapel, a place in Los Angeles called Leimert Park. It's a vibrant community full of art and jazz music and smiling neighbors that I hope to make my home some day. I don't really believe in fate or signs, but your book has brought me close to it.
That said, I enjoyed reading Little Chapel very much. The characters were very alive to me and I found myself very much wrapped up in Guinans. I just found out from the other comments that Jim and John have passed, and also that Guinans has been closed since 2008. It's a strange feeling to discover this whole new world filled with interesting people and then find out that you're too late to partake in any of it. I was in high school when 9/11 happened, all the way in California. Yet I could actually picture myself singing at Guinan's on Irish night. It would have been fun. :) But nonetheless I have to thank you for telling this story. And for this message you wrote at the start of the book:

To anyone who has ever known a spot like this, a spot that makes you feel more at home sometimes than home itself, I'd just like to add, go there if you still can. Be there. And don't wait for tomorrow. Go today.

I kept that in mind the whole time I was reading. Thanks again for this wonderful story of how this place changed your life. :)
Kyle said…
By the time I read the book, Guinan's had been closed for a few months. I still visited the store from South Carolina that fall. The back door of the vacant building was open and I walked in and visited with the ghosts. I love that place, I love the book and I love those ghosts.
I'm glad to see this blog is current. As long as this blog is here, I feel like an actual piece of Guinan's still remains.
Kyle said…
By the time I read the book, Guinan's had been closed for a few months. I still visited the store from South Carolina that fall. The back door of the vacant building was open and I walked in and visited with the ghosts. I love that place, I love the book and I love those ghosts.
I'm glad to see this blog is current. As long as this blog is here, I feel like an actual piece of Guinan's still remains.
Highland Harper Candace Coates said…
Hi Wendy,

It's sad that we were unable to save the Guinnan site. I saw the photo of the ivy that is now growing through what was the bar window.It was a shock to see that after remembering all the great
sessuins we had there for so many years.
Mick Matthews said…
This great book is published here in the UK as 'The Local' by Summersdale Publishers.

As a regular visitor to New York, I took a side trip up the 'The Local' in 2007 and had a can of Guinness at the bar with a couple of the real life characters.

I am so glad that I did and I will not forget it.

So, so sorry to hear about it's closure but so pleased to have visited the Local. Thanks to all and thank you to Gwendoyln for a great book.
Debbie said…
Reading 'Little Chapel On The River' is a very touching story. I was fortunate enough to have briefly met John Guinan. I will always remember his friendly smile and white mustache. My brief encounters consisted of keeping warm in his store, eating buttered roles, and having a hot tea or snapple and a few exchanged words with him. I remember the first time I walked towards the store. It was charming, warm, friendly, not of this era. It is an experience I will not easily forget. A frozen moment in time. Yes, that is exactly what it is. My best to the Guinan Family.
maedeans said…
Somehow books and who know what else give us a connection that seems like more than a coincidence. I visited Pirates Cove sometime in 2008, as I recall. Now a devotional from GUIDE POSTS for Sept. 4, 2011, brought LITTLE CHAPEL ON THE RIVER to mind. I was hoping to find a link to it @ So I guess I'll try leaving it in the comment:
“ Thy word is . . . a light to my path. ”
Psalm 119:105 (RSV)
On the riverbank in the Hudson River town of Cold Spring, New York, I noticed a small sign:
Beyond the forested island I could see the US Military Academy at West Point on its dramatic cliffs across the river. “Jesus loves me, this I know. . . ”Easy words to write, I thought, for a well-to-do woman living in this delightful setting. Then I learned Anna Warner’s story.
She and her sister did grow up in wealth. Their widowed father was a prominent lawyer; home was a luxurious townhouse—servants, grooms, carriage house. But in the stock market panic of 1837, when the girls were in their late teens, all this was lost.
Their father bought a derelict old farmhouse on Constitution Island, fifty miles and a world away from New York City’s high society. The young women learned to cook, clean, wash, sew, keep a vegetable garden. Among many failed attempts to recoup his fortune, their father tried growing rice. I could still see the channels he dug in the marsh between the island and the shore.
To sustain themselves, Susan and Anna turned to writing stories, hymns, novels (some of them best sellers). But because there were no copyright laws, they lived out their lives in poverty. How did they know Jesus loved them? “For the Bible tells me so.” And for forty years they held Bible classes for the cadets at West Point, sharing their love of the book that made their outwardly meager lives rich and joyful.
Speak to me today, Father, through Your written Word.
By Elizabeth Sherrill
I may have to do a copy-cat blog post linking the two "coincidences"
Anonymous said…
Just found out about this book. I will order it today. I grew up in Garrison and have two memories of Guinan's First would be gathering my brother, who was a frequent patron, from the bar. I would sit and wait while he finished up his drink, which, more often than not, stretch into an hour or more. Secondly, as a customer of the store, browsing the penny candies, fireballs being my favorites, and later, trying to convince Jim's wife Peg to sell me cigarettes and beer. Which she never would. I remember a group of us sitting outside on the picnic table, many a day, trying to get someone to buy us smokes. This was too many years ago. It really was a chapel, the therapist, Town Hall and the mall, in a small town without a main street. Guinan's was the only thing we needed.
Evelyn said…
I finished Little Chapel on the River last night.I started "reading' while waiting in the pick up line to pick up my daughter afterschool weeks ago.By the second page I knew this was a book to savor so I closed the book and saved it for bedtime.Reading and then turning off the light to ponder the people of Guinans as I drifted off to dreamland.Saddened to find your blog this morning and read all that has transpired since the end of the book.Just a couple questions who wrote the screen play and when does the movie come out?
Susan said…
This part of the Hudson Valley is mystical. It gets into your soul and becomes part of you. Grandfather had a 600sq.ft home at Lake Peekskill and his sister lived in Beacon,so I've spent many,many weekends traversing the valley. I'm 65years old now and it is my children and grandchildren who require a valley fix just as much as I. Leaving from Staten Island and Long Island we descend on the valley as soon as weather and commitment allow. The valley swells with the past and gives filter to the present. Guinan's is not gone, it's merely been absorbed. For those who can, come and visit. Brodie's still has Irish night,the Firehouse Grill is still there just off the Parkway and a stones throw from the Lincoln depot and the yellow brick road of OZ fame in Peekskill. There's more,so very much more....maybe you'll find your Guinan's.
Anonymous said…

Good lord, what on earth has to happen in order for someone to reopen Guinan's? I'm a USMA grad and currently serving general officer, but I'll retire tomorrow and come up there to man the bar if that's what it takes. This is a special place to so many of us, not sure what the hard part is but let's please fix this quick. My kid's a yearling (sophomore) and I want him to row across the river after taps like my classmate Tom Endres!!

To everyone who had a hand in what Guinan's once was, thank you, and to those who will have a hand in what it will be again, thank you even more!!

Adele Lightner said…
This is the second time I pick up the book, Little Chapel on the River, and love it even more now.
It is just too sad that this wonderful place of heaven is closed now.
I too love what is old and cannot be replaced, such as a good conversation, and meeting new people in pubs. Although I'm German, I love Irish pubs, live in New Rochelle, and have only visited one. But was in Forest Hills, and forgot the name of the Irish pub there; but their Irish food, and even the waitress, is authentic.
I am so saddened that all those beautiful little pubs, a hangout for people who like to share a good story, are vanishing; only to replace them with those boring, and cold bigger chains.
Adele Lightner
New Rochelle, NY
Tom McNamara, Clifton Virginia said…
A customer/friend brought Wendy's book into my pub and said, "Tom, you've got to read this - it's you. I couldn't believe the personal connection I felt when reading 'Little Chapel on the River'. I'm of Irish descent, for 24 years I have owned a general store in a small historic town with an Irish pub in the back. I'm old and diabetic; my wife, myself and our four children run the business. Sean is my manager, Kevin mans the bar, and Katie runs the kitchen. We're a part of the community and have a group of regulars that we have gotten to know intimately over the years. Our
'high holy day' is right around the corner and it is celebrated with corned beef, cabbage, and Guinness. Sound familiar?
This damned book made me cry and I just ordered 10 copies to hand out in my pub!
Suz said…
So what's going on with the space? I was back last year and the proposed "office space" doesn't look like it was ever accomplished. Anyone who has been to Guinan's and cherished what the family created there would like to see a cafe or pub on that spot. Anyone know what's in the plans? It made me sad to walk over there and see it still in need of renovation. You can feel the spirit though. That won't ever go away.
Tom D said…
I think of this book every time I see Wendy on the WSJ site. I was lucky to have been to Guinan's once. It was during the day, and it was a nice fall day and I decided to drive up north. I lived in Irvington NY at the time, in the lower Hudson Valley. I've always liked Garrison but had never been to the waterfront area near the train station, so I decided to check it out. I saw what appeared to be a deli across the RR tracks, and I was hungry,but couldn't park on that side so I parked at the station and walked over the bridge. There was a dog sitting on the front porch/stoop who wagged at me as I went in. The interior was long, and bit dim, and reminded me of some old country stores around in Westchester, where I grew up. There was a teenage girl who waited on me and made my sandwich, who gave me a bit of a look when I asked if they had Rye bread. As I waited an old man came in, said hello to the girl and walked straight past me to the back, which I hadn't really noticed before. I saw him pull up a stool at a bar in a sunny back area and appear to order a drink from a man who appeared out of nowhere to be behind the bar. The setting, the character, the freaking little bar in the back, all I could think was "oh my God, I love this place." I ate my sandwich on the little porch area, on a plastic chair. I think it was good, but I don't really remember. and yes, they had Rye bread.

I told my wife about the place when I got home but she didn't seem to really get the big deal. Imagine my surprise when I saw the book in a store a couple of years later. I immediately realized it was that place in Garrison. Although Guinan's was open for a few years after I read it, I'm sad to say I never returned. I'm glad it existed though. Thanks for writing the book so people like me can get a glimpse of what it was like.

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