Drinking with family

By LIZA WEISSTUCH  |  May 9, 2011

main_eire-pub_480

EIRE PUB

795 ADAMS STREET, DORCHESTER | 617.436.0088

There are things that never cross your mind at the Eire Pub: Facebook, Katy Perry, iPads, bailouts, tomorrow. Most nights, the massive horseshoe bar is lined elbow to elbow. Most of them are regulars. Others haven't stopped by in too long, like the army lieutenant being welcomed home by a doting crowd and a buffet.

They lean over the bar and buy one another rounds. Chuck, an industrious type with ink-black hair, pours or pops caps as he's done for the past 22 years. Other barkeeps learned the ropes from their fathers, who worked there before them. They hunker down at a wood booth and tuck into a corned-beef sandwich, a hot dog, or one of the specials scrawled on the whiteboard. Everything's served unembellished on white plates. All that's embellished here are stories told around the bar.

People trickle in from far-away construction sites and nearby precincts, from municipal offices, dentists' offices, and law firms. "You're not gonna have someone come in here with $10 and bad intentions," a patron told me. Then he bought me a drink.

It gets packed, but never rowdy. (If the Bruins score, though, it gets very loud very suddenly.) There is no music, which encourages chitchat. Engage the right person in conversation and you might hear about Whitey Bulger's high-school escapades. No conversation is necessary to learn there's a roadblock at Neponset Circle.

Everyone knows Ronald Reagan visited in 1983. Fewer might know that John Stenson, the good-humored, avuncular owner who graduated Notre Dame in 1978, started coming to the bar on Sundays with his father, the late Thomas, when he was seven. He can count the days since he took over when he hasn't turned the lock.

There's only one change he'd make to the bar, which didn't allow women until 1980. "I've wanted to get rid of the 'Men's Bar' signs outside, but the historical society won't let me. Years ago people saw it and thought this was a gay bar. Now people see it and think it might be a stripper bar."

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