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Arts and Amusements January 4, 2003  RSS feed

My Years at Brodie Mountain

By Michael E. Driscoll, Torrington
My Years at Brodie Mountain By Michael E. Driscoll, Torrington

I write this letter with a heartfelt sad feeling after receiving a message on the Brodie Mountain answering machine last week. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that Kelly's Irish Alps would not be open on New Year’s Eve, let alone be closed the whole season of 2003. Now I will tell you why I cannot believe it!

Let’s go back to 1965 or so, when I remember a nice man named Jim Kelly talking with my Dad. We were staying at the only lodging on the hill (at that time), the Dublin Hotel, which housed the snow machine equipment. Boy, it was loud at night! Mr. Kelly was always nice to my Dad and us kids. I did not know at this young age that my Uncle Bob did all Kelly's books and related tax stuff.

Back then Brodie had bubble lift chairs that were way ahead of their time. These chairs were used on the lift to the highest run on the mountain. The path of that chair crossed over a pond, and there was just a small net under the lift to catch someone who might otherwise have fallen into the water. (Since then a wooden platform was built under the lift where it crosses the pond.) Twilight skiing was $9, and burgers were 65 cents. We would ski till 11 p.m. or until they would not let us on the lifts. JFK, Killarny and Paddy’s Promenade were lit at night; this was unheard of back then. Kelly even went so far one year as to utilize dump trucks to bring in snow for opening day on a Thanksgiving weekend back in the late ‘60s.

The Blarney Room was a great place for us kids, and featured real Irish Rover music. There was no pub downstairs at that time. It was a safe place for family to go to have a great, great time. Many years followed, and I still have a few of my season’s passes from when I was a kid.

Now let’s go forward to 1981, when I accepted an offer to run the Blarney Room and manage its staff. I thank Jim Kelly for the opportunity, though I could have done a better job. I learned from Kelly. Jamie and Danny and Matt and Doug all were part of the hill back then. It was hard to work for James Kelly—yes, it was! There was George, who ran the downstairs cafe, and Kelly had all his spies watching the establishment; there was even a night guy who lived in a bus on the property.

Jim Kelly may be as controversial as I am in Torrington, only he has a few million more than I do. I was very saddened to hear that he had sold Brodie and I even went there twice last year—it was not the same. Jim Kelly will be a legend to me and I will always treasure Brodie Mountain for some of the best times of my youth, for which I thank Mr. and Mrs. James Kelly.