''Opposite Ruggy O’Donohoe’s Master Patrick Aloysius Dignam, pawing the pound and half of Mangan’s, late Fehrenbach’s, porksteaks he had been sent for, went along warm Wicklow street dawdling. It was too blooming dull sitting in the parlour with Mrs Stoer and Mrs Quigley and Mrs Mac Dowell and the blind down and they all at their sniffles and sipping sups of the superior tawny sherry uncle Barney brought from Tunney’s. And they eating crumbs of the cottage fruit cake jawing the whole blooming time and sighing.'' (James Joyce, Ulysses)
In Ruggy O'Donohoe's, otherwise known as the International, the regular Tuesday night jazz session, one of Dublin's finest, according to one scene insider, was already underway. The line-up is not advertised in advance and gig goers get in free but stuff five euro notes into a little box in a convenient break after listening for a while. Breaking to chat a little to the ever growing audience as the night progressed: ''We play with guitarist Nigel Mooney,'' said drummer Dominic Mullen somewhat unassumingly, who did most of the talking explaining with a twinkle that Nigel likes things in a certain way, adding: ''We're not going to do it like that.''
Mullen is a busy presence at the kit and needed to have his wits about him as pianist Johnny Taylor has considerable skill and flexibility in his expansive way at the keyboards, the standards they chose to play seemed to get more difficult as the night wore on. So from the relatively straightforward Benny Golson number 'Whisper Not' to the iridescent 'Maiden Voyage' where the beanie hatted Barry Donohue on bass, a velveteen curtain behind him, came into his own opening the number sonorously (later a vastly elaborated upon 'Dolphin Dance' deepened the Herbie Hancock theme) this was no dawdle through the Real Book although the players did seem a little puzzled at times about deciding what to opt for next.
Taking place downstairs in the basement of the International, known under that name since 1886 according to the pub's own history, a famous photograph of revolutionary leader Michael Collins, who is said to have drank here, is enlarged and emblazoned on the wall adds a certain drama to the cosy domestic quaintness. You could almost taste the atmosphere and this fine trio cut a fitting dash and matched the mood of the evening just so. SG