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November 26, 2014

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A tale from Ri Ra Irish Pub bartender and Irishman John Fitzgerald

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Ri Ra Irish Pub bartender John Fitzgerald.

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Ri Ra Irish Pub bartender John Fitzgerald.

Editor’s Note: While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun and along The Amalfi Coast in Italy, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Ri Ra Irish Pub bartender John “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, who hails from Ireland.

For 24 years, I lived in a small town in Ireland where a cup of tea and a ham sandwich was thrown into your hand the moment you stepped inside your neighbor’s house.

As a young lad, I looked out my bedroom window and knew all the sheep in the next field by name. It was local knowledge that a good funeral was better than a bad wedding, and a dinner wasn’t a dinner without potatoes.

Then everything changed.

After a 17-hour flight, I touched down in Las Vegas and immediately wanted to turn back. Why on Earth did I think it was a great idea to leave all I knew behind and come work for this Irish pub, Ri Ra Las Vegas?

I had to keep reminding myself that it was an Irish bar so I would be OK. Like a deer in headlights, I ventured down the Strip to see what all the craic was about. (For us Irish, craic means fun, entertainment and enjoyable conversation.)

As the weeks went on, I discovered that you know you are an Irishman in Las Vegas when:

1. You walk up to a group of girls with a couple of pints in you, and they actually talk back to you.

2. You can drink 15 pints of Guinness without asking for a water.

3. You are asked how long it’s taken for you to learn the English language.

4. When your girlfriend is not hairier than you.

5. When you wake up the next morning and want to remember what she looks like.

6. When you are asked, “Do you know Seamus O’Hara from Ireland?”

7. When you are kicked out of a taxi and called white trash because you asked the driver, “Any craic?”

8. When you wake up in a trashcan after your first night on the Strip.

9. When you are asked how you want your eggs, and you say “fried.”

10. When you are the whitest/reddest person at the pool/beach.

11. When you go home to Ireland, the locals refer to you as “The Yank.”

Three years later, at age 27, a lot of things have changed. Little did I know when I arrived that I would find a home away from home at Ri Ra. They have become my second family.

If the lads could only see me now. I drink Frappuccino Macchiato with 2 percent milk every day and get my subs from Jimmy John’s. I celebrate my dog’s birthday every year, and instead of wedding parties, I am invited to divorce celebrations. Now, dinner is not dinner without The Golden Arches.

But, even after all these years, I am still a true Irish lad because you can take the man out of Ireland, but you can’t take Ireland out of the man.

Check out our other guest columns today from Jabbawockeez manager Lee Razalan, Las Vegas Film Festival Director Milo Kostelecky and Shine Alternative Fitness founders Russ Petroni and Dima Shine and on Friday hair guru to the stars Michael Boychuck.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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