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STOUT likes to think that he’s a bit of a man about town, that his reputation precedes the city’s Irish landscape, but who is he kidding?
He’s not old school Irish in London. He pales in comparison with some of the greats of the city – GAA figures like the late Paddy Ryan from Drom and Inch or Martin Connolly from Brian Boru; musical geniuses like Shane McGowan or legendary publicans like Peter McGovern.
Stout heard of the latter the same way he heard about all the rest, by way of deed and affectionate stories.
In the case of Peter McGovern that means the distribution of millions of pints of Guinness and the cashing of as many cheques.
So when McGoverns landed upon his path last week, calling in for a pint was the best courtesy Stout could afford all the tales told of late nights, long pints and the building of an institution.
This pub wasn’t the prototype of course, McGovern’s of Cricklewood is directly descended from its namesake in Kilburn, but even Stout could see that the genes had been passed on, or should he say the taps were still pulled down.
Stout was back to basics after last week’s visit to the Coat and Badge in Putney. McGoverns was a proper pub of that there was little doubt – a slice of Ireland from a cake called Cricklewood.
Inside, there was that easy evening feel, the chill of work evaporating slowly against a homely atmosphere.
Pint of Guinness, please.
Stout watched the careful process and remembered being told how McGoverns went to the trouble of importing Guinness directly from Ireland, when many competitors worked off the barrels brewed in Park Royal. It seems that McGoverns always brought the extra drop, the extra mile.
Stout grabbed his pint and moved to sit down until his eye was caught by two hurls screwed to the wall, one belonging to former London hurling Captain Gerry Rea and the other belonging to his brother Ned, who played for the Limerick team that won the All Ireland in 1973.
The hurls trace back to the semi-final meeting of the same year when both teams played in Ennis and both brothers marked the other.
So Stout sucked up the nostalgia as well as the pint and wondered at the old tales over pints good Guinness, priced at £3.10. Well, if McGoverns couldn’t make the pint just so, then few Irish houses in London could.
Back to basics is right.