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Ireland vs. Hungary in a New York City Bar

January 25, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ On Halloween night 1988, a man with a broken nose strolled into a Greek restaurant and ordered a glass of red wine and a fish dinner. ″I just killed a couple of guys,″ he remarked between bites. ″The police are coming to get me soon.″

Andreas Doczy, 51, was not kidding.

In a saloon up the street, Seamus and Padraig Folan, brothers who came to America searching for opportunity, had instead found sudden, irrational, violent death.

″There was an argument over the old country,″ Doczy told the police.

Testimony at his murder trial, which is in its second week, helps explain how the Folans died, but not why.

The Folans - Seamus, 38, and Padraig, 27 - came to New York looking for work. Their native Connemara, a rocky stretch of western Ireland, has exported its young men and women for more than 150 years.

The Folans were two of 11 children, 10 of whom came to the United States in the last decade as the Irish economy sagged. They found jobs as construction workers and moved into apartments in Queens and the Bronx.

Andreas Doczy was from Hungary. He was one of the few members of his family to survive as the Eastern Front moved rapidly west at the end of World War II, and he fled during the anti-communist uprising in 1956 that was crushed by Soviet tanks.

He later joined the U.S. Air Force and served for five years, then started his own business. His lawyer describes him as ″very much a Cold War guy.″

All of which may or may not help explain what happened that Halloween night at McGrath’s Bar in Astoria, a working class section of Queens.

James Gasiorowski, a former policeman, was tending bar. There were about 10 regulars around, including Doczy and the Folans, who were drinking with a man named Tommy Hughes.

The bartender testified last week that the Folans and Hughes were sitting at the end of the bar when Doczy walked over.

″All of a sudden they started arguing with each other. The Folan Brothers told Andy to leave them alone. ... I went over and told them to stop arguing.″

Doczy went to his seat, but soon he was back and the argument renewed.

The topics apparently included soccer and the relative merits of Hungary and Ireland. There was a lot of cursing, and Gasiorowski heard Doczy yell something about ″drunken Irish.″

The brothers responded in kind. ″Witnesses say the word ‘communist’ was being thrown around pretty liberally,″ said Richard Piperno, a spokesman for the Queens district attorney.

Ireland landed the first blow when Padraig Folan punched the smaller Doczy in the nose, knocking him down; then Seamus kicked him twice in the ribs. The bartender broke up the fight.

″I asked Andy if he was OK,″ Gasiorowski testified. ″He said he was OK and went over to his drink and he said, ’I’m going to blow those guys away.‴

Doczy walked out, went home and came back about a half-hour later. Hughes had left, but the Folans were still drinking. Doczy went over to them, there was more arguing, and Doczy pulled out a .32-caliber revolver and shot Seamus in the back of the head. Then he turned and shot Padraig.

Before he walked out, Doczy remarked: ″I know, I know I’m going to jail.″

Doczy’s lawyer last week told jurors that his client did not know he had done wrong: ″You will acquit the defendant by reason of mental disease or defect.″

To the Folans’ sister Ann, the insanity defense offered little consolation.

″What happened has changed my attitude about this country,″ she told the Daily News last week. ″It’s very hard to get the anger out of you. You keep looking for answers where there are no answers.″