1. Archive

It's as close as you'll get to Eire

(ran TP edition)

FOX & HOUNDS IRISH PUB: 229 E Brandon Blvd.

PHONE: 685-8151

ATMOSPHERE: Dark, pub-like and very Irish

MUSIC: Authentic Irish ballads and drinking songs, and as the wee hours close in, occasionally a bit of Van Morrison and U2.

AGES: 18 and a good bit beyond

DRINKS: Imported and domestic beer from $3.75 to $2.50; wine, $3; Irish coffee, $3. Food: pub grub, less than $8

HOURS: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Thursday-Saturday; 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday


THE SCENE: Decidedly Irish. And on a recent weekend, definitely United Kingdom Irish as a crowded room listened to the ballads of Belfast's Hugh O'Neill.

No question, with a style at one moment rousing and the next reverent, the eclectic O'Neill segues from traditional Irish drinking songs like Seven Drunken Lads to the spiritual overtones of Amazing Grace with, well, an amazing grace.

Or if your roots run more to the Highlands, you might enjoy O'Neill's rendition of the Scottish ballad, Lizzie Lindsay.

Will ye gang to the Highlands Lizzie Lindsay?

Will you go to the Highlands wi' me?

Will ye gang to the Highlands Lizzie Lindsay?

My darling, my bride to be.

On this particular night, O'Neill, in from West Palm Beach, is joined by Dunedin's kilt-clad Stuart Bagley who hoists his bagpipes, shares the stage for some mind-bending harmonizing and then exits, bagpipes wailing.

Get there around 9 or 10 on any Friday or Saturday night and you're likely to encounter a crew of hand-clapping, foot-stomping compatriots, inspired by any number of rousing Irish drinking songs. Stay until closing and

you're likely to find yourself agonizing over any number of tragic Irish arias.

On the chance all this leaves you feeling slightly bipolar, no need to reach for the meds to level out your mood swings. Just take a few steps down into the bar area, where it's possible to have a quiet conversation, and even enjoy a game of darts or pool.

So it goes in this little corner of Brandon, perhaps one of the least likely spots where you might expect to find so much multiculture. But now, 8 years old, the Fox & Hounds Irish Pub is a well-worn stop on the Irish music circuit as Gaelic musicians from around the state make it one of their destinations every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Not only is this a place where the locals mix with visitors from locales as far flung as Ireland, Scotland and Britain, it's also "just like Cheers," said owner Micki Griffing. "That's how it's always been and hopefully always will be."

Slainte! (roughly pronounced as if you're slurring "It's a lawn chair," and roughly translated means, "To your health!"