The American Bar (Paul O'Brien)


Here’s a tip for all you tourists who visit Lagan side

To view first-hand the wonders that fill our hearts with pride

The pump house, Queen’s Island and the weir to stop the tide

The iceberg at the slipway and gantries high and wide

When you’ve walked the length of High Street from the Bank to Albert Clock

Turn left at the big fish and head on to the docks

Saunter around the Custom House and on to Barrow Square

Through the gate at the Rotterdam and friend you’re nearly there


Go stand before the entrance take a moment to reflect

And tip your cap or duncher as a token of respect

To all who crossed its threshold to rest and quench their thirst

The dockers, carters, factory girls in the best of times and worst

You stop and realise as you take in the décor

The leatherette, Formica and the sawdust on the floor

You’ve landed in a time warp that you can smell and see

In the muddy footprints leading to the outside lavatory


Inside you’ll be transported to the time when men were men

Just when you were fairly sure they’d never come again

With George Best on the TV large as life in black and white

And the lads with pints and chasers getting settled for the night

When you stroll up to the counter you’ll be welcomed with a smile

The barman says ‘Go rest your legs, you’re staying for a while’

You’re faced with a conundrum and you’ll doubt the present tense

When he hands you back your small change in shillings and in pence


Some slip out to the bookies to collect on all their bets

Others nurse their drinks because their horse is not in yet

Some dream of Tug Boat Annie, in her smashing low cut dress

Others long for Diamond Lill or maybe the Duchess

You’ll hear stories of Buck Alec as the conversation flows

And how that young McCann won Hughie’s talent show

They’d marvelled at the famous coat he proudly did put on

In the latest London fashion for a cat to wee upon


We all know how the time can fly in such an ambiance

And you feel a gentle nudge to wake you from your trance

Now the barman’s calling time and smiles ‘You’ll have to go’

And you could head down town to catch a musical or show

But if you do I’m sure that it could only disappoint

For nowhere will they serve you as fine and true a pint

As the stuff that flows as pure today as in yesterdays afar

The drinks they serve with love and pride in the American Bar