Fish, Chips and O'Ireland...
Getting our Irish on, Red Bank style.
It was Good Friday night and no one was about just we two. On a whim we decided to run into Red Bank and have fish and chips (it being Good Friday and all) at the Dublin House. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that this is an establishment we frequent. So in we go and into a booth we plop all cozy and comfy. The fish and chips were brilliant as ever and the server was delightful – new on the job actually and doing well.
We had parked in English Plaza and come into the pub through Temple Bar. On leaving we went out the front (not really the safest thing to do as my Irish grandma always said you must go out the door you entered; to do otherwise would be bad luck). Hm, guess I’m safe as it’s been more than 2 months and not one bad thing has happened.
Out the front we go – met a wee puppy just 6 months old who reminded us of our Odie O’Doul when he was brand new – had to fight myself to keep from picking her up and running to the car. Turning about face to go back to English Plaza via the alleyway on the right – BAM! There in front of us is an Irish Shop. Some years back there was an Irish store just south of Garmany’s (Steinbach’s at the time); then later on there was the Irish store on Monmouth Street just a wee bit west of the Dublin House. I shopped there a lot, so did many of my friends. Once this store left town those of us of Irish heritage often bemoaned the fact that there was no Irish shop in ‘our neck of the woods’. Years ago I would try to coax my dear friend Mary Reilly of the Irish Centre in Spring Lake to open a place here in Red Bank. Hm, not listening to me Mary Foley-Reilly has done very well to stay put with her darling shop in the hamlet by the sea.
So, we’re blown away to see this lovely shop just sitting there and waiting for the likes of us. In the door we are warmly greeted by a delightful man who extends his hand and says, “Welcome to O’Ireland.” For a moment I hesitate as I think to myself – ‘Did this fellow just greet me in an Italian accent?’ He continues to speak and introduces himself as Paul Savoi and, noticing the perplexed look on my face he says (again with that Italian accent), “Yes, I’m Italian, but I’m Irish from 10am to 6pm everyday.”
It seems that Paul’s bride, Rosanne Dooling Savoi, who runs the O’Ireland shop up in South Amboy (they’ve been in business for 24 years) is the Irish connection in the family. Paul tells us how they opened on March 17 – how appropriate – and how they plan on having a Grand Opening come the summer. Explaining how they landed here in Red Bank he tells of a brief stay in Fair Haven as they acquired a feel for the area. Proud to show off his shop Paul whips out the most beautiful two piece Claddaugh ring I’d ever seen along with the sweetest Shamrock Anniversary ring. Come to find out Paul does the design work on the jewelry and has it made in Ireland, much of it made right in Dublin City. The shop is ever so small but arranged so conveniently that I gave the size no notice. An entire wall of sweaters – imported of course - line the shop to the left with no end of things Irish all about everywhere you look.
As the number two son’s birthday was that very week, we did some shopping while we were there. Chatting some more with Paul we discover that there is a third O’Ireland – in Carlsbad, California run by Tony Cross, Rosanne’s brother. So, if you find yourself in the San Diego area, Carlsbad is a lovely town on the Pacific Ocean and there’s an Irish shop in town as well.
Paul told us the hours for the shop in Red Bank are 10am to 6pm but that will be adjusted as the summer season kicks into gear.
I went back to O’Ireland this week just gone and brought our youngest granddaughter, Jasmine, with me. She went fluttering about the place, “Grandma, did you see this?” – “Grandma, look at this.” “Come see these caps, Grandma, Shaughnessy would love them.” Using Jasmine as a barometer – all of our 8 grandchildren are very up on all things Irish – this visit was a positive.
How brilliant to have an Irish shop here in Red Bank once again. And, I venture to guess that our Red Bank Irish shop might well be the only Irish shop in the entire world where the proprietor is an Italian who will welcome you in a rousing Roman accent.
O’Ireland is located at 30 Monmouth Street in Red Bank. Ring them up to check on the summer hours – 732-747-4433.
C.M. McLoughlin, a writer and editor from New Jersey and New York, can be reached at email@example.com.