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Issue 22 - The Irish Rover

Whisky Magazine Issue 22
May 2002

 

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The Irish Rover

William Trevor knew the effects of alcohol on a situation: how it could be both catalyst and extinguisher. Jefferson Chase looks at how Trevor used alcohol as an ingenious device in his work

Few authors have written more extensively or with greater imagination about drinking than William Trevor, born in 1928 in Mitchelstown in County Cork. In some fifteen novels and hundreds of short stories, Trevor has described literally thousands of characters imbibing everything from porter to Cinzano cocktails to Irish whiskey. Trevor is the understated poet laureate of social drinking and its revelations.

Readers of Trevor will not find any stereotypically Irish hymns to Paddy, John Jameson or Bushmills. What they will find are meticulous, often blackly humorous depictions of England and Ireland's watering holes, and those who frequent them. Consider the setting of one of his later stories The Paradise Lounge:

The bar was a dim, square lounge with a scattering of small tables, one of which they occupied. Ashtrays advertised Guinness, beer-mats Heineken. Sunlight touched the darkened glass in one of the two windows, drawing from it a glow that was not unlike the amber gleam of whiskey. Behind the bar itself the rows of bottles, spirits upside down in their global measures, glittered pleasantly as a centrepiece, their reflections gaudy in a cluttered mirror. The floor had a patterned carpet, further patterned with cigarette burns and a diversity of stains. The Paradise Lounge the bar had been titled in a moment of hyperbole by the grandfather of the present proprietor … Beatrice's friend had hesitated, for the place seemed hardly promising: Keegan's Railway Hotel in a to...

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