O’Shay’s Irish Pub
313 E. Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr.
For my entire life, I’ve been cursed with fake Irishness. I know, all the major giveaways are there: I have red hair, my name is Patrick, my favorite color is green. But alas, as far as I can trace, there’s only maybe the slightest hint of Irish blood running through my veins. The majority of my ancestors apparently floated over from merry England, and the rest escaped the fjords of Norway for the cornfields of the Midwest, eventually migrating here. Still, people always ask me if I’m Irish, and I’m usually quick to say “No!” with a look that says “How dare you?” Nothing against being Irish, but I’m not and I’m so over people assuming I am for the reasons stated above. However, every year when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, I say proudly “Yes! I AM Irish!” Over the years I’ve learned that on this holiday, it’s just easier to smile and embrace my fake-Irishness and enjoy the free green beer and Bushmills that everyone suddenly wants to buy for me.
This week I had the pleasure of being fake Irish a little early when I popped into Open Mike Night (Thursdays) at O’Shay’s Irish Pub in Coeur d’Alene. O’Shay’s is tucked away in an old converted house amidst the vintage motels on Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive. I immediately felt a sense of warmth and coziness when I walked into the place. A small crowd was gathered and they were applauding the first act of the evening, Americana artist Harvey Stanley, who also serves as host of the weekly event.
There was a small but lively group of folks gathered around the bar so I pulled up a stool and ordered a pint of that chocolaty old Irish staple Guinness. I was half-expecting it to arrive in authentic Irish style: room-temperature. Thankfully, this is still America and the bar maid, Michelle, handed me a perfectly cold and frothy one. Call me a sissy yank, but I’m not big on warm beer. Looking around, I noticed the amazing collection of Irish ephemera, an eye catching collision of framed prints, metal signs, postcards and tchotchkes. Plus, place was decorated to-the-nines for St. Paddy’s day with endless green foil shamrocks strung across every wall. There was a little pile of green plastic leprechaun hats for customers to put on if they were feeling especially festive, and this evening several were.
Like any pub, O’Shay’s has its faithful regulars, and it seemed that this evening some of them had been warming their stools for quite awhile. Michelle was quite an affable hostess, and the laid back vibe of the place made me want to stick around. I had to chuckle when someone was leaving and couldn’t quite manage to push the door open and Michelle told them to “give the door a good Irish kick!” They did and it worked. She kept the conversation rolling up at the bar, from bad high-school photos to the rules of horseshoes, and she rescued our drinks each time they almost fell over on the warbly copper counter. I chatted with Harvey Stanley and told him I wish I’d have made it in time to see him perform. He was cool enough to crack open a copy of his debut CD “Go Harvey Go’ for me and autograph it. It’s an enjoyable album of witty, original Americana songs and no doubt I will be returning to O’Shay’s on a Thursday in the near future to see him out in person. (Visit Harvey’s MySpace to check out his music for yourself.)
The mellow ambience was heightened by the music of Coeur d’Alene acoustic duo Standing Still, (Josh Erk & Marques Pozzani) who played unplugged versions of post-grunge classics. Still, I wondered a bit where the “Irish Folk” music was that I’d seen advertised somewhere. The regular sitting next to must have read my mind - “You know, I hung out here for about 9 months before I heard any actual Irish Folk.” Ah well, the music was great anyway, although some of the open mike regulars were unable to make it. I was told that I absolutely needed to return to hear John Sylte and Robbie French, both acoustic folk guitarists who regularly play on the weekends. Notably, O’Shay’s also serves lunch and dinner daily, and I hear the food is excellent. I was kind of hoping to try an appetizer but the kitchen was already closed for the night. I do plan on returning for lunch sometime soon, and will have the full rundown for you right here.
I asked the kitchen guy what kind of plans they had lined up for the big day – March 17 – and I could practically see the anxiety well up in his throat: “It’s gonna be crazy…” I grilled Michelle for more details, and turns out he wasn’t kidding – I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a more full-on St. Patrick’s Day party than what they’ve got planned. O’Shay’s opens at 11AM and will be serving traditional corned beef and cabbage as well as fish and chips. Drink specials will include Irish Car Bombs, Guinness, green beer, and green jello shots so clearly no-one will be going thirsty. There will be a full bar set up out back next to their outdoor amphitheatre and beer garden, as well as a huge bonfire to enjoy while the sun sets and the chill of the spring evening creeps in. There will be lots of Irish music, and best of all, they are expecting a full-on Irish band of drums and bagpipes to march through the building and around the amphitheater. It’s bound to be the biggest party in town that day, and I will likely be there in all my fake Irishness. Wear green or get pinched.