…Lower Scotch Street. Family owned and run. They live above the bar. No bouncers. No juke box. No alcopops. No sessions. No food. No promotions. No swearing. No feckin' nonsense!
this how Coe felt when Ovett kept kicking on the home straight in Moscow…
We all went on a pub crawl 20 years ago. Every pub in Dungannon, all 23 of them. 20 of us put on suits, polished our best shoes and went for a christmas drink. "Down and out!" was the order for the day, meaning down your drink and head on to the next pub. McKees was second on the list and we all managed to get kicked out. Actually we got swept out with a broom. I can't remember the details but someone started effing' and blinding. Berine McKee, who was behind the bar that morning sweeping up, began beating Fox over the head with a broom.
"Get that filthy tongue out of my bar";
"Fuck me missus" he says heaping more turf on the fire.
You could see her blood boil as she swept us out along with the previous night's fag butts and dirt. Of all 23 pubs they were the only one who kicked us out. The others took the money and put up with the crap and abuse, even toward the end of the night when it got messy and Garfield got his head punched off.
A proper pub crawl is like a 1500 metre race. It's all tactics and pace. Go off too fast and the pack will swallow you up, too slow and you'll be left for dust. The pack usually stays tight for the first half, everyone watching each other. Tactics are crucial, how's your opponent pacing himself? Is he on a bottle, bottle and a half 'un or a pint? By the 10th pub things start getting cosy, the banter's good and men start getting a bit too relaxed. Dixie's standing on a chair with his trousers around his ankles singing An American Trilogy by Elvis. "Down and Out!!!" Someone's just stepped up the pace. We've all been caught napping, we've almost a full pint in front of us as the pack heads out the door. Tip it down the neck. Gasping for breath you bolt out the door. Into The Cobbles, you order but the main bunch has already started. Pub 12, 13, and 14 the pace is relentless "DOWN and OUT!!!", men are now floundering, cheeks are blowing out in an attempt to keep up and keep the beer down. By pub 15 the pack is strung out across 3 bars. "DOWN AND OUT!!!!" and we're off to May Mullholland's in The Square. A man dressed in a large Garfield suit collecting for charity comes down the footpath toward us.
"All right lads?", squeaks a voice from within.
"Is that you in there Seamy?" says McNicholl.
It was Seamy Casey from Dalriada, everyone pounces on him, a fist is swung and the big cat's head comes flying off, landing in the middle of traffic.
"Feck sake… no call lads, NO CALL FOR THAT", says Seamy as we steam through the Square relentlessly.
Mullholland's, Victor's, Images, The Dunowen, Hagan's, The Fort, Rumours, Donaghey's, Daleys… this how Coe felt when Ovett kept kicking on the home straight in Moscow, we dipped to the tape in McGrath's at midnight. Over the next hour the stragglers fall through the door, like big lanky Americans who crawl home 5 minutes after the Kenyans - they're just not built for it, for them it's the taking part not the winning. I'm a big lanky American.
23 bars and only one had the good sense to boot us out. Even then McKee's Bar had a fearsome, no nonsense reputation. They had standards and still do. For that reason alone I'd recommend a visit.
an interior picture of McKee's Bar, Dungannon.