Cleveland Magazine | The Storyteller

The Storyteller

So, have you heard the one about the Irishman who walked into a bar to apply for a job and 10 years later walked out the owner? No, this isn’t a joke. It’s a story – a story about a storyteller. The Irishman is Brendan Ring, proprietor of Nighttown restaurant and bar. Top of Cedar Hill, Cleveland Heights. (This part of the an-tickle is best read in da t’ickest Irish brogue yew can conjure in yer head, as if Himself were tellin’ ya.) Anyway, this Ring fella is an honest-to-God shanachie, a teller of old tales, sort of, and he charms all who enter his saloon by leaning into a personal conversation with them at the bar, asking them, “What’s your story?” Then listening. Everyone is rich with stories. The human experience is a great thing. Or he regales them with his own, drawn from a repertoire as vast as the Irish Sea, an oral anthology of colorful characters and their funny, crazy or dangerous exploits. Just ask his customers. Go ahead. Prowl the bar, like he does. All the regulars will tell you, “Oh yes, he can really
spin them.” How could he not? Ring was born in a place called Cahersiveen, for godsakes. “The town of Siveen.” Named for a Celtic princess whose SOO-year-old- SOO!- castle still stands outside of
town. County Kerry. The West Country. Southwest tip of Ireland, a quaint coastal village with 2,500 people and 52 bars. Where it only rains twice a week: the first time for three days, the second time for four. Where Ring’s grandfather, Eugene, was one of the founders of the Irish Republican Army, whose punishment for his role in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 was banishment from the island in the harbor to the mainland, forever branding his family “The Exiles.” Where Ring’s father, Owen,
turned down a reporter job with The Daily Mirror in London to stay and care for his dying mother, working his way through various well-intended, ill-fated ventures – little things, milk run, coal delivery, this, that and the other thing. Regretful.

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