Saturday, May 17, 2008

Journal-News Story on Irish Night

Barbara Nackman of the Journal-News wrote a story today about the continuing tradition of Irish Night.

She called Jim Guinan, Irish Night's longtime former host, in Florida for his thoughts: "It's all about the music, love," he said from his new Florida digs, admitting that he misses New York just a bit, even though the golf is nice. "The old tunes remind us of old times. It is good, yes, to keep going, but as long as it continues in the right way."

Jim will be back for a visit toward the end of the week. He's said he might pop in to one of the new venues and sing a song or two. So keep your ears open ...

Photo by Gwendolyn Bounds (Irish Night @ Guinan's)

Journal-News: "Guinan's Irish music fest continues"

Guinan's Irish music fest continues
Barbara Livingston Nackman
908 words
17 May 2008
The Journal News (White Plains, NY)
(c) Copyright 2008, The Journal News. All Rights Reserved.

The Irish music tradition Rising of the Moon will be on Wednesdays at the Cold Spring Depot Restaurant in Cold Spring and on Thursdays at P.J. Kelly's in Peekskill every month after a full moon. The days of the week were reversed in an article Saturday.

COLD SPRING - Guinan's in Garrison officially closed its doors in January, but its monthly ritual of Irish music after a full moon still rings out along the bank of the Hudson River.

The Rising of the Moon observance has been resurrected in not one, but two local sites.

Spirited singers and musicians are giving new life to the lilting Gaelic tunes that elicited a smile from Jim Guinan and his friendly guests for nearly five decades in Garrison.

"It's just good to keep the tradition going," said Candace Coates, a professional harp player from Fishkill, who was the first to arrive at The Cold Spring Depot Restaurant late last month for a new Irish night.

"We all just have a love of the music, and the sound is better than ever," she said of the new setting, where performers sit around a large table in a well-lit room with features Guinan's never had - air conditioning, plenty of comfy chairs, and a full menu of food and beverages.

Two host restaurant-pubs have stepped up to give venues to the Irish music every four weeks.

On Thursdays it will be at The Cold Spring Depot, less than five miles north from Garrison but still along the Metro-North Railroad tracks.

"Most of us are used to pausing when the train comes by and are glad that hasn't changed," said Ann Dillon of Cold Spring, who organizes the musicians with John McAuliffe of Carmel. They also get help from Cold Spring music producer and promoter Joe Johnson, who has plans for a variety of music events at the popular train-side restaurant.

On Wednesdays, the event heads to P.J. Kelly's in Peekskill, which is tucked near that community's train station.

"It will still be right on the banks of the Hudson River," said the pub's owner, Matt Kelly, who is putting his version of the event together with Jack Murphy, chairman of the Peekskill St. Patrick's Committee.

Both men know Jim Guinan and the Guinan family, which decided to shut down the beloved Garrison institution after 50 years of operation. Guinan's served as a pub by night and a train-station deli by day.

Family patriarch Jim Guinan, 81, now free of his store, has since visited Ireland and settled near Tampa, Fla.

Guinan said he wishes the new and old minstrels well, but urged them to be true to the old tunes.

"It's all about the music, love," he said from his new Florida digs, admitting that he misses New York just a bit, even though the golf is nice. "The old tunes remind us of old times. It is good, yes, to keep going, but as long as it continues in the right way."

To Guinan, that means no microphones or amplifiers. There is some indication new technology might bend the tradition, because at The Depot, a small camera is positioned on the musicians, and their image is broadcast onto a big-screen television in the bar area. A soccer game from Spain and sounds of Jackson Browne's rock classic "Running on Empty" were turned off last month for the Irish tunes.

Ray Bermingham of Cortlandt sang some ballads. He came prepared with sheet music and warmed up with a tune about how beautiful the world seemed when a young woman named Nora espoused her true love.

"It's all about the tradition," Bermingham said as his wife, Bridget, hummed along and sipped wine, something she could not do at the beer-only Guinan's pub.

Jack Pendergast of Pearl River pulled out a box accordion his father brought with him from County Clare, Ireland.

"It is really the same. We are a bunch of people interested in Irish music," he said of the new setting. "There is no formality, just plain fun. You can be good, bad or indifferent, just join in with your heart."

Mary Lou Tully of Garrison loves the music and came just to listen.

"I love Irish music. I used to go to Guinan's," she said before calling it a night at 10 p.m. "It is good here, this can hold more people."

Sean O'Malley, a New York City firefighter who lives in Cold Spring, stood and listened for a while with friends.

"Guinan's was such a terrific place. It is good to keep this event close," he said.

The only thing missing, though, was hearing Guinan in person sing "Oh, Danny Boy," one of his favorites, which he sang to an appreciative audience on his last Rising of the Moon fest in January.

But, Guinan said he is planning to visit later this month, and who knows, he might just stop by and sing from memory.

Reach Barbara Livingston Nackman at or 845-228-2272.

Rising of the Moon music nights

- Cold Spring Depot, 1 Depot Square, 8 p.m. May 21, June 18

- P.J. Kelly's, Railroad Avenue at the Peekskill train station, 8 p.m. May 22, June 19

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

John Guinan Doing Well...

John came through a tough surgery very well. His family and several close friends were by his side yesterday when he woke up. As one put it, "he was talking a mile a minute."

That's John for you.

Please send letters and cards to the address in this post.

Monday, May 12, 2008

John Guinan in Surgery Today

Please send your thoughts and prayers to John Guinan, his wife Mary Jane and their family today. He is undergoing his fourth surgery this morning/afternoon to reduce the size of his brain tumor.

He was optimistic and in good spirits last night. His address is below to send letters. He loves getting your notes, so thank you to all of you who have already reached out:


I'll update on his progress here later today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

NYTimes 1966 Article on Garrison's Landing

There was a time when Garrison's Landing was on the brink of decay, lifeless without a draw for its residents or visitors. This NYTimes article from 1966 talks about how a group, led by Gen. Frederick Osborn, stepped in to save the Landing from becoming a footnote in history.

They formed a non-profit association, whose mission was to resurrect and protect this historic strip of land and make it again a place where the community would gather. The town responded by volunteering their time, tools, paint and brooms to clean up the spot.

More than 30 years later, those of us who are newcomers have been privileged to have the Landing as entry into this community. There's the Garrison's Yacht Club, the Philipstown Depot Theater, the Garrison Art Center and David and Cathy Lilburn's Antipodean book and map shop.

And, of course, until recently was the glue binding it all together: Guinan's Pub & Country Store.

Without that glue, some residents feel the Landing is becoming lifeless again -- and want very much to see a store and local gathering spot resurrected there. Read these comments here.

But Gen. Osborn's legacy lives on. The association formed by him still owns a large stake in the real estate group now controlling the building that was Guinan's. It will be up to them what becomes of that spot. And that will say a lot about the future of Garrison's Landing.

Photo by Gwendolyn Bounds, 2005

Friday, May 2, 2008

Save the Garrison's Landing Store

Here’s a note from Mary Ellen Yannitelli, who is making a bid to reopen the store that was Guinan’s -- possibly to be named the Hudson Café. She believes this building should serve the general town and commuters, and not just become an office and apartment building.

It's important to voice your thoughts now. Email any support, questions, concerns, aid or even other name suggestions to:

“Hi Everyone! I submitted my proposal to the building owners, the Garrison Station Plaza, Inc. I don't know what their intentions are for the space once they are finished with the renovations, it could be anything, but I would love to show them how much that place has meant to people and the energy and enthusiasm for it to continue as a store/cafe such as I proposed.

Please leave your story or comments here--they just may be the testament the Board needs as proof that place should continue as a store. Thank you! -Mary Ellen Yannitelli”

Highlights of "Hudson Café" proposal:

-Café/deli with convenient grocery items and home-style menu for take-out or dining on premise

-Wireless Internet access

-Commuters hours: 5:30 a.m. till 10 p.m. weekdays; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends

-Rotating menu using local farmers and ingredients: stews, chili, fried chicken, pot roast, brisket, meatballs, pulled pork, pot pies, stuffed roasted game hens, shrimp scampi, macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, burgers, salads, rice, roasted potatoes and made to order sandwiches and wraps.

-Beer and wine served on premise