My favorite bar in the Bronx is An Beal Bocht, named for the novel by Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O'Nolan/Flann O'Brien (holy pseudonyms, Batman!), on West 238th Street in the Riverdale section. For those who ask, my next two favorites would be The Rambling House on Katonah Ave in Woodlawn, and Jimmy Ryan's on Middletown Road in Pelham Bay. On Fridays, friend of the bastard Mary Courtney plays traditional Irish music at An Beal Bocht. Mary has long been the singer of the band Morning Star, which gained some national coverage by performing at the JFK Jr. memorial, but she's perhaps best known for singing the female vocal on the album version of Black 47's Livin' in America, which is set to the music of The Foggy Dew. Mary sang Larry Kirwin's brilliant, but scathing, line:
Is this what I was educated for? To wipe the arse of every baby in America?
Mary is a folk historian as well as an entertainer, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of Irish history and literature. She'd be the person to tell you the name of the Newry Highwayman, or the historical context of the hanging of Roddy McCorley. So, without further ado, here's the brilliant Mary Courtney, the Star of the County Bronx: