For the second consecutive year on our trip to Ireland Matty and I decided to do a live show in the “Maginnes on Tap” time slot from a pub in Ireland. Seems harmless enough until you realize that the 5-to-7 time slot on the East Coast is actually 10 p.m. to midnight Irish time. Doing “Fairways of Life“, as we did a few days this week, has far less potential for disaster because the show airs live during morning drive time in the States but is actually lunchtime in Ireland, (which leaves time for a round of golf in the afternoon.
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So, we had been kicking around the idea of doing a show and realized that the only viable time was Thursday night. We were scheduled to arrive in Dublin around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday after a noon round at Ardglass. What could possibly go wrong with golf in Northern Ireland with 16 people and a windy bus ride down to Dublin? Did I mention that we didn’t actually have a place to do the show from once we got there?
The first piece of the puzzle started to take shape earlier in the week when we did a combined Fairways of Life/Maginnes on Tap on Tuesday from the lounge at Royal Port Rush. (I should mention here that Matty seems to know everyone in the golf community in Ireland and Northern Ireland.) During a break we were talking to Gary McNeil, head pro at Royal Port Rush. We happened to mention our spark of an idea to do the show and he thought that he might have a solution.
Gary mentioned that Michael Flatley, yes the Lord of the Dance guy, had played at Royal Port Rush a few days before with a pub owner in Dublin. He would send a text and see if there was something that could be “sorted out.” In Ireland any problem that can be fixed by the kindness of an acquaintance can and will be “sorted out.”
By Wednesday, as we were playing Portstewart, contact had been made and a pub had been tentatively secured. The pub owners knew that we would need an Ethernet cable and a power source to establish connection to the studio in DC. Matty and I agreed, without consideration for the all important details like, where the pub might be in relation to our hotel or whether or not the internet connection would be fast enough to support our equipment. Not to mention the fact that we were going to go live from a pub in Dublin at 10:00 pm, when at no time in our week in Ireland were we presentable for dinner by the appointed hour, much less broadcast live to the world.
No one else was concerned about these minor points so we enjoyed our day at Ardglass on Thursday. Following a spectacular day of golf, where the sun actually shone and the mercury climbed to near 70 degrees, we were enjoying a pint with the group in the oldest clubhouse in the world. The original castle that is now the clubhouse at Ardglass was built more than 600 years ago. A “new addition” was added 400 years ago but the club pub is in the old section.
The pints were drained and the bets were settled and we slogged our way to the motor coach (we call it a bus). As we settled in for the 2-hour ride someone may have broken out a bottle that was procured at the Bushmills factory up north while someone else cranked up a speaker for music. Still others settled in for a poker game. At this point (four hours before air time) no one was concerned about the fact that there were holes in our plan to go live that evening. Major holes, any one of which could prevent us from going on the air.
Between hands of cards and sips I reached out to Steven Gribbon who had been guest hosting for the week to let him know that we had every intention of going on the air but that the chances were no better than 50/50.
As the bus pulled into Dublin, with 40 extra Euros in my pocket, the size of the city sprawling before us gave us pause. If the Bruxelles Pub was on the other side of the city we could be in trouble. At check in we asked if such a pub was near and the lovely young lady at the counter said that she was unfamiliar with it and called the concierge. It was with great relief that he informed us that Bruxelles was a mere five minute walk from the hotel.
Gary at Port Rush had no idea where we were staying or that we would be in a time crunch and here we are checking into the hotel at 8:45 with the pub just five minutes away. We cleaned up and headed out of the hotel at 9:00 pm (after meeting for a pint in the lobby bar of course).
As we rounded the corner of Grafton Street on to Henry we found a teaming pub with music and an outdoor seating area jammed with Thursday night revelers. All that was left to do was find Mike, the manager on duty, and hope that the chain of communication had made it all the way to him. Mike is a big gregarious fellow whose accent is so think I couldn’t understand a thing he was saying. But he was good to his word.
The bar, established in 1886, was much as it had been built. Older pubs like this have rooms off the bar called “snugs” where women could be served back in the days when women were not allowed in bars. The snug was nearly 15 feet long and 10 feet wide, walled on three sides and opening out to the bar full of evening drinkers.
Mike filled pints, hooked up our equipment and even ordered pizzas for our group as it became clear that once again things in Ireland had been “sorted out.” While Matty and I are rarely certain whether or not we had done a decent show we are both fairly certain that neither of us said anything that would have ended our careers. There could be a reprimand or two but all in all it was a fantastic time which hopefully translates into an enjoyable listen.
There is nothing like a trip to Ireland. It shouldn’t just be on your bucket list… your list should start there.
John Maginnes played the PGA Tour from 1996 to 2005 and very few people noticed. Since 2004 John has been a broadcaster and writer for a variety of different outlets. Currently John host’s Maginnes on Tap weekday evenings SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. He also contributes to the live coverage of PGA Tour events. Most recently he has become a contributor to Back9Network and brings his knowledge of the game, his wit and his pension for 19th holes to our members.
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