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ROBERT PRICE: At McGarry’s Irish heritage comes second behind loyalty | Robert Price

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George Masud is not Irish. Neither does his business partner, George Masud. Not a freckle or a red hair between them.

Their Irish pub is qualified as authentic only on one technical detail.

But it is a kind of edifying technicality and restoration of the faith. The kind of technicality we should all appreciate.

The namesake of their pub is James McGarry, a proud Irish American family man and hard worker. McGarry’s Irish Pub opened in April in Calloway and Brimhall in West Bakersfield.

McGarry missed the opportunity.

George Masud – the taller of the two cousins ​​of the same name – first met McGarry in 2004 when they landed in the same fantasy football league.

“He was fun, but he took it seriously,” said Masud, who called his team the Big-Timers. “He wanted to win it all, and he did it a few times.”

The purpose of fantasy football, as you may know, is twofold:

First, build an imaginary team around real professional soccer players and total points based on their actual performance, using an obscure formula to determine the winners of the weekly one-on-one pairs of fellow “owners”.

Two: playfully gloat when appropriate and sometimes even when it isn’t, belittling each other as often as possible.

McGarry’s team, the Empire (and later the Irish Empire), reflected his meticulous and determined nature. He was so determined to win that he even wore out his friend and team co-owner Robert Voss.

“Once we bonded as partners we could be on the phone for three hours chatting about a player,” Voss said, “until he pushed me to a point where I was dying. Okay with him. He was one of those detail-oriented guys, and he was relentless. But a good guy.

Fantasy gave way to reality in January 2019 when McGarry began to experience dizziness and other health issues.

He was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“It was the toughest nine months watching him go through what he’s been through,” Masud said.

McGarry passed away in September 2019. He was 40 years old.

Nineteen months later, after receiving McGarry’s widow’s blessing, Ashley, Masud and Masud opened their upscale pub named in honor of their friend.

It was as if McGarry was a true partner in the business.

First, the Masuds commissioned a 4 foot tall oil painting of McGarry by local artist Edgar Arreoloa, a tattoo artist who clearly has a knack for other mediums. The striking portrait, based on one of McGarry’s favorite photos of McGarry’s wife, is rendered in shades of gray and hangs on the back wall of the bar.

As customers come in and ask questions about the bar’s Irish theme, Masud points to this back wall.

“It happens every time,” he said. “Obviously I’m not Irish. So I’ll tell them the story. A lot of people will want to know the story of James McGarry, who he was as a person.

Then they put McGarry’s two young boys Finn and Hayden in charge of the pub’s main charity. There is a 40% pledge for college funds if the drink is Irish whiskey. There is also a wall of donations, 100 percent of which goes to children’s education.

“These are two little boys that we want to watch,” Masud said.

The bar opened shortly after St. Patrick’s Day with a boisterous crowd enjoying a screaming bagpipe quartet (and, yes, the bagpipes are both Scottish and Irish). The packed house was a spectacle that bodes well for the future.

It doesn’t hurt that the bar is neatly appointed with brass and oak, an old-fashioned stamped pewter false ceiling, and a long, wide bar top covered in five coats of clear, glossy lacquer, with thousands of shiny copper cents.

“21,348 cents end to end,” Masud said. “21,347 of them are one-on-one.”

What if a bar patron sees the only exception?

“You get … something.”

You get something from McGarry’s Irish Pub whether you hit the nail on the head or not. You feel like life isn’t necessarily as limited as some might think, that love and loyalty can last beyond lethal limits and expand our reach to places we couldn’t otherwise go. .

Robert Price is a reporter for KGET-TV. His column appears here on Sundays; The opinions expressed are his own. Contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter: @stubblebuzz.

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