NO DENYING IT, Tim Herlihy was born with the luck of the Irish. A triple shot of, it seems.
Hailing from an egg farming family in Termonfeckin, Ireland, Herlihy spent his formative years at the village pubs, learning how to swill the local whiskey like his father and grandfather before him. But unlike his forebears, the young Herlihy has managed to turn that national pastime into a career.
As a Tullamore D.E.W. brand ambassador since 2011, Herlihy spends his days and nights spreading the word about one of Ireland’s top-selling whiskeys and toasting to the good health of total strangers.
“I didn’t have the imagination to dream this up,” he confesses in his crisp brogue. “I thought I was destined to build an egg empire with my dad!”
The 29 year-old recently passed through Savannah as part of a marathon promotional tour that’s taking him to 50 Irish pubs in 50 states in 30 days—an ambitious endeavor aided by having that famous inherited luck on his side as well as youth and an iron constitution.
Bottle tucked under his arm, he began his sodden sojourn in Los Angeles, then hopped to Honolulu, came back stateside to Seattle, touched down in Anchorage and made his way across the country to the Southeast, stopping in New Orleans and Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, which also happens to boast the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“I don’t think I slept in a bed for the entire first week,” he chuckled as he leaned on the burnished oak bar at Kevin Barry’s on River Street on Day 16. “I’m like Keith Richards without the music.”
Yet he appeared no worse for wear in spite of his whirlwind pub skipping. In fact, in his collared shirt and distressed jeans, Herlihy looks more like a millennial software coder than a seasoned rep for the Emerald Isle’s most celebrated export.
But that genuine Gaelic geniality emerges the minute he raises his glass.
“May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you and heaven accept you,” he offered as he commenced this interview with short glasses of triple-distilled Tullamore D.E.W., served neat.
Herlihy’s childhood left him with an impressive repertoire of traditional Irish toasts, and they tend to get more entertaining with every round.
“May those that love us, love us. And those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we’ll know them by their limping,” goes another favorite.
Herlihy’s gig has also made him an expert on Irish pubs, a worldwide phenomenon (there are TWO at the base of Mt. Everest) he says is fueled by good food at a reasonable price, a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and that mysterious Irish luck.
“Think about it. Why are there Irish pubs in every single country? Why not German beer halls or London brew pubs?” he pondered as he tucked into Kevin Barry’s “Pub Trinity” platter, three healthy sampler helpings of beef stew, bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie.
Considering there are only 5.5 million people in Ireland, he added between bites, the ubiquity of Irish pubs may also have something to do with the 40 million Irish descendants in the U.S. and 80 million around the world. He’s doing his darndest to keep up with the best of them on his month-long tour, which will end up back in his adopted home of New York City on March 17—just in time for a St. Patrick’s Day drink in his own neighborhood pub.
After that, he’ll give his liver a break from his home booze–or at least, mix it up with a different kind of spirit.
“Oh, you should see me on Cinco de Mayo,” he says with a wink.
As we moved on to taste the special reserve batch of Tullamore D.E.W. (the initials are lent by former distillery owner Daniel E. Williams,) we noticed a young gentleman eavesdropping down the bar. Turns out he was visiting Savannah for a career fair, but none of his prospects sounded nearly as promising as Herlihy’s occupation.
“Dude, you’re my hero,” said the lad, loosening his tie after a long day of interviews. “You’re inspiring me to hold out for my dream job.”
Herlihy nodded solemnly, signaled the bartender for another glassand offered up yet another perfectly appropriate toast:
May the leprechauns be near you, To spread luck along your way. And may all the Irish angels Smile upon you this St. Patrick’s Day.
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