Mickey Quinn's Irish Pub, Seminole, FL
"A leprechaun," was the answer not once, but twice, when I asked the question, "Who was Saint Patrick?" at Mickey Quinn's Irish Pub. Thursday is usually the day we go to a bar on this trek to visit a bar and a church in every state, and since this past Thursday was Saint Patrick's Day, we came up with the novel idea of going to an Irish themed pub. Apparently several hundred people in the Seminole area came up with the same idea.
Now to be fair, both people who claimed the saint was a leprechaun were obviously joking. And to be even more (or less) fair, both had already had more than a few drinks. I took a poll of a dozen people or so, and the majority of people I talked to at Mickey Quinn's had no idea who Saint Patrick was; even though Saint Patrick himself (or someone who looked like him; St. Pat has been dead for centuries) made an appearance at the pub that night.
There were some at the pub who did associate Saint Patrick with the church. There was a guy named Brendan who said, "He's a saint, like Saint Brendan, the patron saint of sailors." And Brendan's friend Nicky knew the legend that Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland (though the fossil record doesn't jibe with that story).
I did find it interesting that there were a number of people who associate Saint Patrick with the church but associate the day with beer and parties. It is very likely that Saint Patrick was familiar with beer, but the real Saint Patrick may have felt out of place at this celebration of his day.
The story goes that Patrick was a fifth century Brit who, as a teenager, was kidnapped by Irish pirates (and really now, why aren't pirates a part of the celebration?) and made a slave in Ireland. Patrick became a Christian as a slave, escaped, and returned to Britain. He became a priest and then, of his own free will, returned to bring the Gospel to Ireland. How this story resulted in a day where the goal for many is to get wasted as quickly as possible is rather baffling.
There were other responses to the importance of the day besides beer. Some people talked about celebrating Irish culture and family. And a man named Billy said the day was about freedom ("It's about when the Irish freed themselves from.... It's about the freedom to express yourself".)
Mickey Quinn's goes to a special effort for the holiday, roping off a large section of the parking lot, bringing in a rented tent, live Irish music, no cover charge, and green beer. Customers come early and are served until 3:00 am.
Most people were wearing green but some people added other costume touches. I talked with young woman named Michelle who was wearing an orange beard. She, like many others, didn't seem to have a clue who Saint Patrick was, but she did have opinions on our standard questions of what makes for a good bar and a good church. She said for both it was important to have people with interesting personalities (but the bar needed good beer as well).
Billy (who associated Saint Patrick's Day with freedom) spoke of the importance of good leadership. He was taking management classes, and believed it was important that managers treated their employees well, in an ethical manner, as they would like to be treated themselves. He attends St. Mary's, a Catholic church.
His friend Greg said he was raised Catholic but now attends a nondenominational church, Pathways, and mentioned that Pastor Bill is awesome.
Brendan and Nicky, who had some of the better answers to the Saint Patrick questions, also had unique answers to the question what makes for a good bar. Brendan said it should be "civilized. That's a good word," while Nicky loved that the bar -- that night, anyway -- had "cute little birdies to watch."
Their friend Denise had an answer for what makes for a good church, "It's where God knows your name."
We met a couple a little older than us, Lou and Linda, who love to travel, so they appreciated our journey and told us about some of their adventures driving through Europe. They associated Saint Patrick with the cathedral named for him. For them, music is important for a good bar; top forty, rock, dance music, Linda said. Lou added (and Linda agreed),"But not rap."
For a church they said it's good to have a priest or pastor that's a good speaker who's down to earth, and it doesn't hurt if he has a good sense of humor.
We must admit that the evening was a bit more challenging for conversation than our usual bar nights, due to the large crowd, loud volume, and more people that were... um... sobriety challenged.
Often we like to talk with a bartender but with the crowd three deep at the inside bar and a line at the outside one - - there was no way that was going to happen. So we stopped to talk with someone in security, Ryan the Bouncer. He's a full time waiter now, but he'd worked as a bouncer for a decade previously. Now he just works as a bouncer for special events (and he assured us he's well paid for his services). I asked for a bouncer story and he told us about the time he had to break up a fight between thirteen people "Someone punched my beautiful face."
We asked what makes for a good bar. He said the atmosphere is important, and that's set by the General Manager. He said the GM there, Ronan , is amazing. "He does literally everything even when it is slow." He added that everyone should be good at their jobs, knowing what to do and doing it. "This is a nice bar."
In answer to what makes for a good church, Ryan assured us he was the person to ask. He was raised a Catholic back in Michigan, but says that, while it's fine for his parents, it's too old school for him. "I'm about the energy," he said, adding, " I know God's got my back... I can feel the Holy Spirit." He assured us he's not opposed to the Catholic church (his brother is studying to be a priest), but he feels the Catholic church needs to get updated. "It's a new age." He said he has a friend running a church in Michigan. "He's the man. He uses the internet to promote programs and youth events. It's exciting." He also mentioned that God's rescued him "a number of times."
We talked to one more person before we left. Nicky, who we'd talked to earlier, walked past us as we were heading back to our car. He shook our hands again and told us without prelude, "Thailand! That's the place you should go! Thailand! I'm going there next month." Now if we weren't already planning on going to South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, we might have taken him up on that.
(In fairness to the patrons of Mickey Quinn's, I should note that the first ten people I asked at church Wednesday night had no idea who Saint Patrick was either. It was a Baptist church, but still...)
Total time spent in bar: 1 hour
Our rough count: lots and lots -- people were swarming inside and out (although there were plenty of seats still available at tables in the tented area)
Music: a live band in part of the parking lot area
Snacks: none we saw
Visitor Treatment: a woman standing at the bar, who seemed to know all the bartenders, helped Mindy come up with a second green drink. Most people we talked to were friendly (Brendan tried to call others over to talk to us), and the bartender was patient when Mindy had to decide (quickly) on a replacement drink when her first request wasn't available.
Drinks of the week: Dean had an appletini; Mindy had Magner's Irish Cider when the bartender told her he was out of ingredients for a grasshopper.