US gets taste of inflatable Irish 'Paddy Wagon' pub
America's first inflatable Irish pub is the brainchild of a group of expat Irish entrepreneurs.
The Paddy Wagon Inflatable Pub will feature on one of America's most popular television shows next week, broadcast to an audience of more than five million.
Complete with a fake thatched roof, brick walls, fireplace, chimneys and windows, the only thing missing from The Paddy Wagon Inflatable Pub is a snug.
But the rent-a-pub experience offers more than just a blow-up boozer.
For an extra fee, party-goers can pet real Irish wolfhounds, dance the jigs and reels with real Irish dancers and fiddlers, and eat and drink traditional Irish fare served by authentic Irish bar staff.
Company co-founder Eoghan Cahill, (36), a native of Dunboyne, Co Meath, said he's surprised no one came up with the idea before, even though inflatable pubs have been popular on this side of the Atlantic for some time.
But in his adopted home of Boston, Massachusetts where he has lived for the past decade, the idea of having your own pop-up pub in your backyard or special occasion venue is really taking off, even though the company won't officially launch until next week.
"I saw the idea in the UK online and I thought that with the American market, it's such a novelty, it would do very well," he said.
"And what we're doing is offering the entire Irish experience," he said.
Although the pub itself is manufactured in the UK, based on the design of a "stereotypical" Irish pub, with a little imagination, party-goers in America could envision themselves imbibing in a pub reminiscent of the quaint old local that featured in John Ford's The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
Meanwhile, the company, including fellow expats Pamela O'Brien from Kilmessan, Co Meath, Michael McNamara from Galway and Boston-born Chris Fillippelli, offer various packages starting at $635 ($700) to rent a smaller 15ft x 15ft "shebeen-style" pub for 24 hours that holds about 30 people or a 30ft x 30ft pub that holds up to 80 people.
Hiring catering staff, bartenders, entertainment and the dogs all come at an extra charge.
Word has already leaked out, with some surprising requests for bookings. One event planner was bitterly disappointed to learn that the pub wasn't a boozy bouncy castle in which party-goers could bounce around with drinks in hand, he said. "They thought they would have to sign waivers and were quite disappointed it wasn't a bouncy pub," said Mr Cahill.
The company also turned down a request from rubber fetishists who were planning a "rubber dress-up sex-orgy party dressed as gimps" he said.
"We just said no," he added.
Even though the company will hold its official launch party next Sunday - which will be seen by more than five million viewers watching NBC's flagship talk show Today next week - the company has already hosted parties for private and corporate clients and has taken bookings for a number of craft-beer festivals, birthday and anniversary parties and other events.
It is already getting queries about St Patrick's Day parties, which Mr Cahill expects will draw some unusual requests, like calls for rent-a-leprechaun and the like. "This is America, so who knows," he said.
The concept has already proved a hit here after former drinks industry representative Caitriona Mulhern brought two inflatable pubs to these shores last March. Such is the demand for the pop-up pubs that she ordered three more versions of The Pub and The Barrel to cater to private parties and other events.
Michael McBride, owner of a real 19th-century pub in Milford, Co Donegal, booked one of the blow-up pubs to augment his Travellers Inn pub during the busy St Patrick's Day period.
He told the Irish Independent: "It gives us a fun addition on busy weekends and for festivals. I know people will order this for their homes but it's also fun at a real pub too."
It also proved a hit with local man Donna Cushnahan who said he loves the idea of being his own publican.
"It would be great to have a few friends around of an evening for a bit of craic and you can decide when you want to call last orders."