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Jul 29, 2014 8:13 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Montauk's Dock Restaurant Changes Sign Deemed Offensive To The Irish

Jul 29, 2014 3:09 PM

Bar owner George Watson’s politically incorrect humor at the Dock Bar & Grill in Montauk has seemingly caught up with him.

Posted on the window next to the entrance of the local mainstay, a list bars “Irish Drunks” from patronizing the establishment—along with “yapping mutts,” “screaming kids,” cellphones, strollers and those who only want to use the restroom.

It was the “No Irish Drunks” that upset Pauline Turley, the vice chairwoman of the board of the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan.

In an email on Tuesday morning, Ms. Turley said she had visited the bar in April and had a nice time over a pint of Guinness and mussels. It wasn’t until she was leaving that she noticed the sign and was taken aback.

“I raised an eyebrow and wondered how many other ethnicities would allow an ethnic slur on a window, took a picture, and went about my weekend,” she said.

It wasn’t until an Irish news website, IrishCentral, posted a story about an equally eyebrow-raising sign in a pub in Ireland—it read “No Loud Americans”—that she decided to share her photos of the sign in Montauk.

“I sent it to them, curious how their readers would feel about it,” she said. “I do often think that it is because of our self-deprecating attitude that such drunken stereotypes are allowed to prevail. Ireland, like many countries, has its fair share of dealing with issues related to alcohol. Binge drinking is a serious issue for our youth. And I’m not sure our ability to laugh it off is helping the situation.”

Since the photos she took of the sign and the story went up on the internet, the Dock and Mr. Watson have been receiving a deluge of criticism. On the Dock’s webpage, users berated the bar.

“Such insensitivity and racist remarks should not and cannot be tolerated,” said one commenter, Greg Seán Canning. “As an Irish man and as the Florida State President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, I take personal offense to this sign, which was displayed on your glass window. Shame on your establishment for allowing this to take place.”

John Cunniff took a more caustic view: “No Irish drunks? I guess Italian drunks are okay, or German drunks, or Russian drunks. Just not Irish ones. Thanks for reminding me of why I moved away from Long Island. Tool.”

Mr. Watson has also taken flak on the telephone while working. “Once this hit the papers, the phones were ringing off the hook. One guy calls up and says, ‘Listen, you can’t be doing this. Don’t be picking on the Irish. You gotta pick on the ...’” Mr. Watson said, rattling off a long list of different racial slurs the man had used. “I explained [to another person that] the joke wasn’t meant to hurt anybody. It was an inside joke taken out of context. He wouldn’t let it go, so I said, ‘Say ... three Hail Marys and you’ll wake up with a sense of humor.’”

Mr. Watson, who is of Irish descent and acted as grand marshal of the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2003, said the sign was inspired by being “worn out of patience” while running the bar. He said there are certain things he can’t handle, like people bringing a double-wide stroller into the bar when it is packed, or when people tie their dogs out front and the dogs won’t stop barking.

“A bunch of customers who were Irish, at least a dozen of them, had gone over to Block Island, and they got off the boat totally shit-faced and came in and were literally screaming at me for two hours. That is why I put that sign up,” he said, noting that it has been on display for nearly five years. “I’m not allowed to serve drunks. I would make that distinction—I don’t care whether you’re white, black, yellow or pink.”

Since the backlash, he’s placed a piece of paper with the word “sensitive” over “Irish,” so it now reads “No Sensitive Drunks.”

Ms. Turley said his fix was a “clever retort,” but Mr. Watson said he plans to permanently replace the paper with “sensitive”—in “Kelly green.”

Mr. Watson is a former Fire Department of New York firefighter and has owned the bar since 1973. On the Dock’s website, he writes: “At The Dock, we feel that in order for a joke to be funny, it must be told at someone’s expense. We tell ethnic, sexist and racial jokes—everyone gets their turn in the barrel.”

Each day, the Dock’s chalkboard features a joke, a poke at someone, or a silly inward reflection. This week, messages scrawled in chalk included “A firm purpose of amendment: I’m sorry, I apologize, I went to confession. It won’t happen again,” and a checked-off “Bucket list update: Piss off ancestral homeland.”

Mr. Watson said he writes a newsletter called “The Truth,” where he is always making fun of people. “I don’t complain about any payback,” he added.

He said people are too sensitive.

“I think 98 percent of people get the joke,” he said about the “No Irish” rule. “It’s wackos that are offended by it.”

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By MTKGRL (15), Floral Park on Jul 29, 14 8:36 AM
Some people need to get:
1- A sense of humor
2- A life!!
By pcone (28), hampton bays on Jul 29, 14 8:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
what a total waste of time its his bar he can put up any damn sign he wants! cry babies
By jeffscan (19), sh on Jul 29, 14 8:52 AM
George runs a great establishment and we have a lot of fun there. He insults everybody(lol) so what is the big deal. Keep going George, your as crazy as ever...the rest of these cry babies who aren't even locals should mind their own business and stay out of our town if they are so offended!!!!!!
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Jul 29, 14 8:59 AM
4 members liked this comment
I think the bar owner's sense of humor is fantastic... excellent corrective signs. And btw, "Irish" isn't a race...
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 29, 14 8:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Neither is "Latino" for that matter.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Jul 29, 14 10:49 AM
There are only 3 races in physical anthropology: Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid.

Every other classification is not a race, but an ethnicity or cultural group.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Jul 29, 14 3:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Dock is one of the best places left in Montauk. As the tide of NY bs sweeps over the "End" with it's money and attitude, this is a refuge from people like Ms. Turley. May the Dock stay the way it is forever.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jul 29, 14 9:34 AM
3 members liked this comment
If any bar stops serving "Irish Drunks" it may go out of business
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jul 29, 14 9:58 AM
As someone who has cringed each time the stupid Irish drunk jokes are trotted out each St. Patrick's Day, I have to say that senses of humor aside, the perpetual stereotype of 'drunken Irish' is indeed VERY old and it's time to put it to rest. The joke is over and has been for a long, long, time.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Jul 29, 14 10:31 AM
I agree wholeheartedly, I just think this might've been a little short-sighted by the individual making the complaint. As any self-respecting local knows, Montauk has been a destination for foreign students coming over on a student visa for the summer for a bit of fun and hopefully to save a couple of dollars for several decades. Many of them back in the hey day and still today, are Irish-- now that number has been supplanted by eastern Europeans. In any case, this sign was tongue-in-cheek as many ...more
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jul 29, 14 12:38 PM
I read in the paper, a bar/pub in Ireland had a sign in the window no "Loud Americans"........ Wonder what happened to him? At least the screaming kids are still out, at least until they get a lawyer....
Been there lots of times and got the T Shirt "BS is king in the Hamptons"
By Tommy Turbo (60), Deep River, CT on Jul 29, 14 10:36 AM
Thin, pale, freckled skin.
Jul 29, 14 12:49 PM appended by VOS
And the best comments on the blackboard were when the fisherman was lost at sea and miraculously found a year or two ago - "you could look it up."
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jul 29, 14 12:49 PM
1 member liked this comment
What does "Happy SFM" mean?
By springsmom (29), East Hampton on Jul 29, 14 1:42 PM
that's for those in the know, to know.
By tm (174), mtk on Jul 29, 14 4:06 PM
If you like the comment "No Drunken Irish" why not put it on a t-shirt and walk around with it? Let's see what positive reaction that brings.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jul 29, 14 2:10 PM
The term "Paddy Wagon" is also hereby struck from the lexicon.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Jul 29, 14 5:25 PM
Love Mr Watson's attitude over the whole matter. He has the right frame of mind. Its bad enough these tourists manage our pocketbooks, lets not let them control what we say too.
By Inch_High_PI (29), Southampton on Jul 29, 14 5:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
Clam up Pauline. Oh wait, is that offensive to shellfish?
By Amelia Airport (48), East Hampton on Jul 29, 14 7:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Remain clam.

Mussel through.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jul 30, 14 4:46 PM
I'm trying to think of a joke I've ever heard that isn't at someone's expense or deprecative of someone or something. It tends to be a prerequisite most of the time. I've heard there is an 8 step program for those who take jokes too seriously...

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 29, 14 9:41 PM
As a yuppie hipster, I DEMAND that this sign be taken down!

Seriously though, I'm Irish... Montauk is full of Irish, specifically Irish fishermen. And they are known to get stupid drunk. So there's a hint of history behind the reference. Unlike some groups referenced in these comments, the Irish have no problem laughing at themselves, as long as it's lighthearted and playful. Which this clearly is.

Until you get some persnickety woman from the Irish Arts Center gets involved.
By Open Book (11), EH on Jul 30, 14 9:33 AM
Australians are bigger drunks than the Irish and you know it. The UK is awash in falling-down drunks every weekend. It's so bad in some UK cities that they have medical buses that literally scoop up passed-out (mostly young) people off the street and keep them on the bus until they come round. The police can't deal with the huge number of drunks. Not enough drunk-tank room. And BTW, the Irish received an award for being the best fans at the 2012 World Cup. Other country's fans were fist fighting, ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 4, 14 6:02 PM
Fish on!
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 4, 14 11:19 PM
You go, George. Don't change at all. These summer jerks will be gone soon. My God, people have truly lost their sense of humor.
By Dayo (33), Sag Harbor on Aug 5, 14 10:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think the three bridges over the Shinnecock Canal and the South Ferry ought to have restriction signs on them all composed by George. Let's put an end to what we don't like starting there!
By scottso (18), southampton on Aug 6, 14 6:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
Helicopters get a free pass?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 7, 14 1:32 PM