Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Call for Letters to NYDEC to Keep Guinan's Building a Public Space - DEADLINE DEC. 24

As the Garrison Station Plaza group, which owns the old Guinan's building, makes preparations to convert it into primarily office space, Garrison resident Mary Ellen Yannitelli has sent a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requesting they reject the project on the grounds that such a conversion will have a substantial impact on the environment and character of the surrounding area.

Mary Ellen asks that anyone supporting the effort to keep Guinan's old building as a pub, cafe, restaurant or other public gathering spot also email or mail NYDEC by Dec. 24th and says her letter may be used as a template. Here's who to direct it to:

Joseph R Murray
NYSDEC Region 3 Headquarters
21 South Putt Corners Rd
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845)256-3054
r3dep@gw.dec.state.ny.us

In her letter, Mary Ellen calls into question specific "no" answers provided by Garrison Station Plaza in its application to change the building's purpose:

19. Will Proposed Action affect the character of the existing community? {NO}

13. Will proposed Action affect the quantity or quality of existing or future open spaces or recreational opportunities? {NO}

20. Is there, or is there likely to be, public controversy related to potential adverse environment impacts? {NO}


Earlier this year, a proposal to turn the building into a restaurant & pub was rejected by the board of Garrison Station Plaza, which said financing was inadequate based on the rent and financial guarantees it need for such a project. This followed a wave of public controversy and media coverage about the community's concern related to potential adverse impact to the character of the existing community.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guinan's "Cadet Brad" - Now "LT Brad" in Afghanistan

Here is an update on one of my favorite readers - a young man named Brad Hoelscher III who I met while he was still a West Point cadet. He wrote an email to me in 2005 after reading Little Chapel, and came to Guinan's for his first "legal" beer after turning 21. He was also quoted in the New York Times about religion and the military.

"Cadet Brad" is now "Lt Brad," and he left about a month ago for deployment in Afghanistan. Between graduation and deployment, he was married to Aleece Mihok. I asked Lt. Brad's father - also a West Point graduate, also named Brad - for an update and he wrote this on Halloween:

"Lt Brad left 27 days ago from Ft Polk LA, arrived in Manas, Kyrgyzstan on 7 Oct, spent a few days waiting for lift to Bagram AF in Afghanistan, making his way through Logar Province, finally making the final 15 miles from Altimur to COP Kherwar by road convoy in 9.5hrs!!??on Thursday afternoon, 14 Oct. LT Brad is in the advanced battalion force..readying all for the battalion's arrival.

He's settled in his post which is at 8500 feet and near the Pakistan Border. Their mission is the 'usual' - provide security for the local populace, training Afghan police and army forces, nation building.

Check out Delta Company 2-30
Facebook page. Includes new photos of COP Kherwar. Or as they refer to it..Fort Apache.

They had to change their unit patch from the Rock of the Marne w/the wild boar (apparently Afghans have don't understand it) to Dark Angel - designed by LT Brad.

Brad's birthday is Nov 2nd. Packages have been taking three weeks to reach him.

Just in case, his s-mail address:

LT Hoelscher WB
Delta Co/2-30IN/4BG/10MD
TF Storm
COP Kherwar
APO AE 09364


Sunday, October 24, 2010

"What Was Once Hallowed Ground ..."


This is a recent email and photo, reprinted with permission from Jim Donnery, one of Guinan's regular parishioners and the man who inspired the name of the book: "Little Chapel on the River." The shot here is where the old bar and Coca-Cola beer cooler once stood.

The proposal to create a new restaurant and store in the spot where Guinan's once operated was turned down by the board of the Garrison Station Plaza based on what it said was inadequate financing for the project. The board is planning to move ahead with renovations to include office space.

From Jim Donnery:

"I had been home this past weekend to attend a funeral for a family member and had some time for goofing off before a dinner engagement in Cold Spring, so I bought a few beers and went down to sit on the rocks by the Boat Club to admire the sun setting on "the river that flows both ways". Old memories brought me over to the Chapel entrance and I peeked inside the front door past the plywood. That's when I saw the vines coming in the windows where the bar once stood.

I was truly saddened by the sight. Nature encroaching on what was once hallowed ground.
.... I then walked up onto the train platform and that's when I saw the source of the growth, and how it had entered through the crack between the windows.
It was one of those times when you want to slap somebody for letting something wonderful deteriorate for no apparent good reason."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pedaling 4,300 Miles to Honor a Parishioner


In March, I wrote about a tribute bike ride for Jim Donnery, one of Guinan's most loyal parishioners and the inspiration for the title of the book "Little Chapel on the River." When Jim was diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, one of his dearest friends, Frank Hanes, began training to cycle 4,300 miles across the United States to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Frank recently completed his fantastic journey. He kept this inspiring blog along the way.

Jim Donnery writes:

"To all of you who were thinking of me, and praying for me, and made a generous donation to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. Our friend Frank Hanes (of the Inn at Manchester) has completed his monumental journey across the northern section of our country and has raised almost $22000 by last count. Here are a few pictures of his triumphant finish, with his wife, children and friends."


Photos courtesy of Jim Donnery and Frank Hanes. Top and middle photo: Jim Donnery & Frank Hanes. Bottom photo: A triumphant Frank Hanes in Maine with family and friends upon finishing his ride.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Artwork of Guinan's Pub - Van Gogh Style


This piece of artwork was created by Andrea Marie Highsmith of Raleigh, North Carolina. She calls it: "Little Chapel on the River and my fascination with Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' sky."

She rendered it using Gouache, a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water and some oils as well. Andrea is a recent graduate of East Carolina University. You can see this and more of her artwork on Facebook.

Pretty neat stuff. Thanks Andrea.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Visit With Ohio's "Omni Book Club"



Last week I had the pleasure of dropping in on the Omni Book Club in Huron, Ohio (60 miles West of Cleveland) by speakerphone as they discussed Little Chapel on the River. It's always surprising to me how five years after publication, I still get new questions about the book.

One reader, Elaine Waterfield, pointed to the book's descriptions of the Hudson River with its ebbing and flowing, which led the Indians to dub it "river-that-flows-two-ways," and said she saw it as a metaphor for the advancing plot of Guinan's and the memories of my childhood. "Was that plan or an instinct?" she asked.

I'd always intended for the Hudson River to be a character in the book - in part because I thought it symbolized the ability to create a fulfilling life that included both the country and the city. "Like the river that flows two ways, the trick was finding room for both currents," I write toward the end of the book. The deeper I got into the book's story, the more the river became a thread that helped stitch all of the narrative arc together.


The club is a bit unusual in that there is no required book to read. The members instead meet once a month and simply talk about what they've been reading. Says member Laura Nemeth: "We're really about getting like-minded people together and making reading a team sport. And some members don't physically show up - they email me their reads and I forward them to the group. It's a good way to get recommendations and commiserate."

Laura Nemeth says she and the others were so sorry to hear that Guinan's had closed and that Jim and John had passed away: "I felt like they were friends too," she said.

One tip: if you ever meet the club, they have a secret password: "Pride and Prejudice is The Greatest Novel Ever Written."

Photos courtesy of Laura Nemeth.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #7

These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.

“I am your home“ by CL


I am your home

whether you have one or need one

the place where you bring your joys, your sorrow, your worries, your life

a place where everyone fits in

and has their own opinion

an open discussion is always available

together we create a union

consider me your counselor

I may not reply to your questions,

but rest assured that once you step in

and you hear the sound of the wind chimes,

the members of the chapel will give you your medicine

a beer, some comfort, an ounce of closure

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #6

These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.


“The Bar” by TC


Individuals go to Guinan’s for closure and to spend their leisure time in such a preferred place

A Peaceful area that resides next to the Hudson River

It appears to be like a chapel on the river to some folks

Captivated by the bar’s charisma, a gathering of families and friends get personal with their internal feelings

It appears to be such a relaxing place where you can actually find the character that resides within you

As son as you step into Guinan’s, you’ll eventually have a different state of mind

You actually get to meet people that are very sociable and generous

Well slowly but surely it becomes a regular thing to attend Guinan’s

The odd place where comfort can sometimes be found

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #5

These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.


Guinan’s by LD


The way everything falls in place everyday

The way my heart opens up to everyone

Warmth infects all within my reach

The love spreads throughout the chapel

Glamorously filling each soul with a bit of happiness

To be in a place where everyone knows you

To have the same familiar faces around you

To need the place as much as it needs you

I am THE place because of you

I am THIS place because of…...you


Thursday, April 1, 2010

For Jim Guinan - Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #8


In honor of the late Jim Guinan ...


These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.


“Jim” by CL


He is…


He is the center

He is the father

He is the friend

He is the final word

He is the father-figure

He is the guiding force

The one that doesn’t have to speak to be understood

He is the overseer

He is the welcome and come again

He is the power

He is the decision maker

He is Guinan's




Photo by Roy Gumpel.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Highland Harper to Play Easter at Maizie's Tea Room

Candace Coates, a.ka. the rat-affectionate "Highland Harper" from Irish Night at Guinan's, writes that she will be playing this Saturday, April 3rd for Easter at Maizie's Tea Room, which has opened in the village of Fishkill, N.Y.

She'll be there performing from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. Maizie's Tea Room is located at 1129 Main Street Fishkill New York 12524. Their phone number is (845) 896-4103. Candaces notes that founders are a mother/daughter business team who are new to the area from California and trying to fulfill a dream with the new endeavor.

Here's a link to a map for Maizie's

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #4


These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.



My Place on the River by VB

(about the area)


The chapel stands with a beautiful sunrise with wispy clouds. The shallow waters surrounding it, ever flowing this way and that way.

A mosaic of people gathering together in the usual attire and with all the same purpose…to love, to share, to belong.


…and to drink!


Photo by Jim Donnery


Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #3

These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.

A Chapel without Pews by VB

(from the perspective of the bar itself)


Here I sit, year after year

A chapel without pews

Big crowds come to visit me

And leave transformed

Families reunite here

I make it feel like home

…away from home


Love visits, and stays

Music comes and goes

The beauty of what I do for others will stay for years, decades, and centuries.


Ferris High School "Guinan's Poem" #2

These poems were written by students at Ferris High School after reading Little Chapel on the River for their honors English class. More on the class here.


Guinan’s Bar by LN


An old, old bar founded in the 1960’s

An Irish bar

A comfortable atmosphere

A crowd of regulars

A sweet-talking owner

The Bar that attracts you,

Makes you want to stay

Tells you to come back next time

Welcomes you with good manners


No matter weekends or weekdays

During hard times or good times

When something misfortunate or fortunate happens

Guinan’s Bar is wide open for you


Guinan’s Bar is always there physically and in your heart

It’s there.



N.J. Students Pen Poems About Guinan's: Poem #1

Last October, an email popped into my inbox from James J. Ferris High School English teacher, Michael Ferrara in N.J. At the beginning of the school year, he'd read his honors class a chapter of Little Chapel on the River. (How cool is that?) The class decided to study the rest of the book and so HarperCollins donated copies to Michael's class. (Thank you HC).

The class finished up in February and Michael sent me a collection of poems the students wrote. And they rock. For privacy reasons, students initials are used. They are a mix of freshmen and sophomores, ranging in age from 14 to 16.

Poem #1:

Within Movement by GB

(from the perspective of the bar itself)


I stand in the same spot

(But) I always feel like I am moving within myself

The sense of peace, love, and joy

Explains what I stand for

Stand for the silent movement


But still be known as a presence

I am one with them

And although we speak no words

The greeting is natural



Monday, March 22, 2010

Tribute to the Man Who Named the "Chapel"


Of all the nights I spent at Guinan's, the one that burns most clearly is still, perhaps, the first. It was the night I first met many of the parishioners -- including Jim Donnery, the man whose fierce love for the green-walled pub he fondly dubbed "The Chapel" inspired the title of the book. Anyone who knows Jim, knows loyalty is core to who he is: loyal to Guinan's, loyal to his family - including his mother Dorothy who he brought to Guinan's regularly - and to all his friends at the chapel.

He is also loyal to another family-run joint in Vermont - the Inn at Manchester - where he and his wife Gail have spent many weekends and befriended the owners Julie and Frank Hanes. And when Jim was diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, Frank decided to return that loyalty.

Frank is cycling solo across the United States starting June 1 in honor of Jim. He'll dip his bike's back wheel in the Pacific Ocean in Anacortes, Wash. and 4,500 miles and approximately two months later, he'll be in South Portland, Maine. He aims to raise $45,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and is seeking sponsorships of $10,000 for his expenses. (Read more about Frank's journey on his blog.)

As John Guinan himself proved on a bike, a strong mind and purpose can help you accomplish what seems impossible. Frank is aiming to do that.

If you'd like to support Frank and Jim, you can donate online securely here and join Frank's community on Facebook. Meantime, send your good thoughts to Jim as he undergoes treatment - he's a fighter.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Facebook Tributes to Guinan's, St. Patrick's Day 2010

These comments were just a few of the warm sentiments posted on Facebook by "parishioners" on St. Patrick's Day, 2010, in honor of Jim Guinan, his family and the Guinan's Pub & Country store. First posting was mine, the rest are responses. Cheers everyone.

"Happy High Holy Day to all parishioners...and a toast to the late high priest himself, Jim Guinan. This day a year ago was the last time most of us saw you."

Kristi Lafoon
Kristi Lafoon
Still one of my favorite books ever. Thanks so much for the picture!
Yesterday at 8:43am ·
Patti Anderson
Patti Anderson
St. Patrick's Day is the day one just automatically thinks of the Guinan's!
Yesterday at 8:48am ·
Brian Bosley
Brian Bosley
I never met him, but your book made me feel I knew him. Happy St. Patrick's Day
Yesterday at 8:53am ·
Elizabeth Weinstein McMahon
Elizabeth Weinstein McMahon
hdgdnhdgfffftredrddddfdrffffrfrrrrrrreeeeeeeee44 e4444444
Yesterday at 8:56am ·
Gwendolyn Bounds
Gwendolyn Bounds
Elizabeth, that's very well put. Thanks everyone - have a great day. Be safe.
Yesterday at 9:01am ·
Rick J Soedler
Rick J Soedler
Cheers Jim Guinan, you are missed!
Yesterday at 9:30am ·
Barbara Young Capalbo
Barbara Young Capalbo
Thanks for posting this!
Yesterday at 9:50am ·
Elizabeth Weinstein McMahon
Elizabeth Weinstein McMahon
Oh my gosh. I'm embarrassed. It seems my 1 year old was commenting on your photo. She snuck up to our computer table and started typing away. Mucho apologies, and cheers to you and the late Mr. Guinan.
Yesterday at 10:19am ·
David S. Nolan
David S. Nolan
In Jims name we lift up a pint to him and all of the parishioners at the "Chapel!" and another in Wendy's
honor this Paddy's Day for inviting us to come and pray at
the chapel---even if only vicariously. Slante'
Yesterday at 11:45am ·
David S. Nolan
David S. Nolan
Oh, as for evening prayers, another pint in praise to Mary Ellen for all her toil in an effort to reserect and preserve the "Chapel." After that---O'Doul's. My greatests prayer
within every "Chapel," Drink Sensably or have a designated driver or walk 'cause I want to know everyone is back here tommorrow just to tease and bug Wendy---she's such a good sport about it. Happy Saint Patrick's Day Wendy!!!
Yesterday at 12:00pm ·
Courtney O'Kelley Cox
Courtney O'Kelley Cox
I now think of him so often -- especially today, thanks to your wonderful book!
Yesterday at 12:15pm ·
Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn
Been thinkin about him all day....Happy St Patricks day......
Yesterday at 1:10pm ·
Ken Cuneo
Ken Cuneo
Wendy. I told you that Jim was my first employer. I was one of his "yacht sharp dock boys". He was also part of my father's golf foresome with Tip Dain and WhitneyTravis. I'm tipping an Irish whiskey shot this evening for him.
Yesterday at 1:22pm ·
Sue Squires
Sue Squires
We'll be raising a Guinness tonight, to you Jim!
Yesterday at 2:22pm ·
Brent Thomas
Brent Thomas
Cheers to Jim and to you all.
Yesterday at 5:00pm ·
Al Fagundes
Al Fagundes
Perhaps two Guinness...perhaps more!
Yesterday at 6:55pm ·
Stanley M.Peters
Stanley M.Peters
A drop is spilt to share, in loving memory those who have passed before us. For Family, Friend and those we've known only briefly and yet they remain in our mind remembered. With Love and a tear we raise the cup and welcome them all home once more in memory and in person. Grab a seat and join us in the song as our hearts become one. For those in the"Chapel" and whereever you find it.Slante'
11 hours ago ·