Whistler, BC has been a multi-family vacation destination for us over the last 12 summers. We hang out with the kids during the day; but at night, we leave the children with babysitters and hit the village. We usually end the evening at Dubh Linn Gate, the best Irish pub in Whistler.
At night, there are usually hundreds of people crowding the little cafes and bars all over Whistler Village. This year, though, we just missed Crankworx, a huge downhill biking tournament that happened the weekend before we arrived. Therefore, most of the college crowd left, and the village was pretty dead at night. I don’t mind; it’s easier to get a table in a restaurant. It is a little more difficult if you’re an entertainer in one of the clubs or bars though.
After shooting some pool and playing a trivia game (and winning $50 in beverages and free nachos!) at the Longhorn Saloon, we walked down to Dubh Linn Gate, located in the Pan Pacific Hotel, for some quality entertainment.
(Click all photos for a closer view)
According to the pub’s website, Dubh Linn, or “black pool” is an Irish phrase “…given to the dark pool of water that still lies today beneath the proud heart of Dublin City. Located close to what is now the gate of the Guinness Brewery, the dark waters from this pool were the inspiration for Arthur Guinness’ ‘Perfect Pint’. Guinness has been brewed in Dublin since 1759.”
The beautiful wooden bar and interior of the pub was crafted in Ireland, shipped over and re-assembled for an authentic Irish touch. It’s easy to forget we’re in the middle of a Canadian ski resort when the leaded glass doors close and the sun sets.
For the third year in a row at Dubh Linn Gate, we saw our favorite Irish troubadour, Damian Brennan. He plays acoustic guitar there throughout the year. We befriended him after we bantered back and forth with him during his performance a couple of years ago. There was such a big group of us; it was hard for him to ignore our raucous behavior! We sang along, pounded the tables, and clapped to the beat of his guitar. We attended his show night after night; and even on the quietest nights, he got a hearty laugh and a good-spirited heckle from us.
There were seven of us Monday night, and we were ready to stir things up. The rest of the gang saw him play the night before. We walked in to a pretty quiet crowd. Recognizing us, he stopped and shouted, “Seattle’s here, everyone–Seattle!” We responded with our usual, “Woooo!” and took a seat near the stage.
Brennan, originally from Belfast, Ireland, learned to sing and play music at an early age. He became hooked on Van Morrison and The Beatles and knew that music would be a major part of his life. Brennan moved to Canada in 1989 and has since performed as a solo artist, formed the band Murphys Lagh and the duo Brennan and Sabir. He studied traditional Irish music theory and currently teaches the Irish Bodhran drum, tin whistle, guitar and voice on Skype and at music camps.
Brennan’s music is a variety of traditional Irish ballads, covers of classic rock and pop, and our favorite selections of more bawdy Irish tunes, as well as a few jokes in between. He was playing “Whiskey in a Jar” when we walked in, followed by Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” then continued right into “Bad Moon Rising.” We then requested “Alice (Alice? Who the feck is Alice?),” which according to Damian, we are allowed repeat, only if we use the word “feck,” which is the totally acceptable alternative to the other very offensive four-letter word. He said his mum used to call him that all the time: “Get outta here, you little fecker, and go play in the road!”
We then ordered a round of Irish car bombs (take 1/2 glass Guinness, drop in a shot of 1/3 Jameson and 2/3 Baileys, drink it down in 1.5 seconds), including one for Damian to get things going. He toasted the crowd, “Here’s to you, here’s to me/Friends forever we shall be/But if we should ever disagree/Feck you…here’s to me!”
Another bawdy song was next: “Seven Drunken Nights,” a little ditty about a husband who kept finding someone else’s boots, horse, head, uh, carrot, etc. when he’d come home to his wife after drinking every night of the week, and exclaim, “Hey, Wife!” It’s a great shouting, table-pounding song.
Brennan ended the show with Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which got the audience singing along and pounding out, “bah, bah bah!”
On Tuesday, after a day of play in the village and excellent home-made tacos back at the condo, we ventured out fairly late. Of course, we had to check in on Damian to see what he was playing that night. We walked in, and caught his eye. Without missing a beat, he sternly said, “You’re late,” and continued right back into his song. We laughed and took our seats near the side of the stage.
We bought another round of car bombs and one for Brennan, although he begged us not to. Another toast, and into a nice acoustic version of Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man.”
The rowdy table on the opposite side of the stage requested a traditional Irish song, “The Rattlin’ Bog” but he said he didn’t know all of the words. One girl confidently said she knew them, and came up on the stage to sing them. He accompanied her while she brought the crowd to cheers with her version of the song, which was similar to “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where each item in the verse is added to the next in the chorus. It was great fun.
On the third night, my husband and I were the only ones willing to venture out. We walked directly to Dubh Linn Gate and took our usual seat. Brennan was on a break between sets. Yes, we were late again, I exclaimed to him. We’d have to do our best to liven up the very quiet crowd.
He played some of the same songs, but added a ballad called “Four Green Fields,” which represented the four regions of Mother Ireland. It was a beautiful rendition. We helped rouse up the crowd later when he played “Seven Drunken Nights” again, and yelled our loudest, “Hey, Wife!” when required. Although we found it more challenging to sing along with just the two of us, we managed to have a fun night and had a little chat with Damian after the show.
Thursday morning we dragged out of bed at 7:30am and headed home, leaving two families behind to enjoy the rest of the weekend in Whistler.
Late that evening, as we were drifting off to sleep, we received a two-word text from one of our friends: “Hey, Wife!”
They’d gone back to Dubh Linn Gate without us.