IT'S EASTER Sunday, and pub owner Fergus "Fergie" Carey is in the red-walled living room of his South Street home, listening to some Status Quo with his black cat, Grendel.

Carey, 50, known around Philly for his long, flowing gray - once red - locks and beard, doesn't have too many fond memories of egg hunts or of going to church back when he was a wee boy.

"Growing up in Ireland, Catholicism was being forced down your throat, and I guess I was always a bit more rebellious," Carey says.

"It wouldn't be a good idea to celebrate Easter at my house!"

On this day, Carey and the family will enjoy a drive to Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the public garden in Chestnut Hill.

The visit will be an early present for his wife, Christine, whose birthday is today.

The couple, married almost 11 years, have a son, Eamonn, 9, and a daughter, Degitu, 7.

Carey grew up in Dublin. After high school, he began to manage Burgerland, a fast-food restaurant that he calls the "McDonald's of Ireland."

In 1987, at age 24, Carey made his way to the U.S., first settling in Houston, with no money or green card. He lasted three weeks.

"I got there and I said, 'This is horrible!' You need a car, you need a driver's license, you need everything to do anything," Carey said.

Later that year, he moved to Philadelphia, sharing a house and busing tables, becoming a bartender at McGlinchey's, on 15th Street near Manning.

In 1994, Carey took over an old and run-down bar on Sansom Street near 12th, and called it Fergie's Pub.

The pub celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this month.

He also owns Monk's Cafe, 16th Street near Spruce, Center City; the Belgian Cafe, 21st and Green streets, Spring Garden; and Grace Tavern, Grays Ferry Avenue near Kater Street, Southwest Center City.

Carey just returned from Ireland last Thursday, having attended his father's funeral in Dublin.He describes his father as a good man with a good sense of fun.

In the living room, a few family photos are on the wall and atop a rustic piano. He points to a photo of himself as a pudgy boy with close-cropped hair.

"I've changed a lot since then!" he jokes.

- Naveed Ahsan