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thedrifter
11-10-07, 07:24 AM
BRAVE MARINE'S BOOZING LIFE

November 10, 2007 -- DON'T mess with hard-drinking Hamptons saloonkeeper Cyril Fitzsimons.

Last summer, two holdup men from Brooklyn shot up his Cyril's Fish House in Amagansett, grabbed $28,000 in cash, and sent a woman bookkeeper to the hospital.

But the unarmed Vietnam vet wrestled with the bandits in the gravel of the parking lot and managed to call police, who put up a roadblock on Montauk Highway, arrested the gunmen and recovered the dough.

The perps remain in jail, his fish house is shuttered until spring, and Fitzsimons is wintering in the Caribbean, where he owns another gin joint.

As the Marine Corps celebrates its 232nd birthday today, the bearded, love-beaded boozer is one of 50 leathernecks profiled in the new book from Page Six's pioneer editor Jim Brady, "Why Marines Fight."

One chapter chronicles how Fitzsimons joined the Marines in Times Square as a tourist on a pub crawl, and was sent to Vietnam to command a mixed company composed of Marines and local lads, fighting in the hills above the Tamki River.

"[There were] rats big as cats, and I hate rats," says Fitzsimons, who took a shrapnel wound to the foot. Combat was "suicidal the way [the Viet Cong] came at us. One night they lost maybe 150 and we lost three."

Honorably discharged as a sergeant, Fitzsimons returned to his native Dublin to open a popular pub, the Silver Tassie, and then "got into a bit of trouble - possession of explosives." His dad charmed the cops and the next day he was safely in Spain, staying there 12 years until the statute of limitations ran out. "I had the best gay bar and the best Irish pub in Barcelona," Fitzsimons quips to Brady.

He next surfaced in Manhattan's rowdy world of East Side watering holes, partnering with Eamon Doran, hanging with Jimmy Weston and running Murphy's on Second Avenue. Then the Hamptons beckoned and Cyril's Fish House was born, with regulars including Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, David Letterman, Paul Simon, Keith Hernandez, hockey's Pat La Fontaine and The Post's Steve Dunleavy and Ken Moran.

Fitzsimons is now in Anguilla, operating his hot spot Zora, still trying to quit smoking, but enjoying a gargle or two along the way.

Ellie