Big in The United States
As JP O'Malley profiles UFC star Conor McGregor, we look at other Irish sporting heroes who have made it big in the US
1 EAMONN COGHLAN
And you thought that Americans had a problem pronouncing Saoirse Ronan's name. "How do you pronounce the name of that Irish runner?" "It's Aimin' Cocklength." "Let's call him Paddy." Eamonn starred in ads for an alcohol-free beer. The brewers called it Kaliber. The 1980s Irish drinking public called it What's the Point? Eamonn was a huge attraction. The Yanks were amazed a young Irishman could run so fast when he wasn't being chased by an immigration official.
2 SONIA O'SULLIVAN
The Americans had no pronunciation problems when it came to Sonia. At least until they learned that she comes from Cobh. "What the f**k is that all about?" said no American commentator really, because they are not the type to curse. The reason it's not 'Cove' is because there is no 'v' in the Irish alphabet. There's no w, x, y or z, either. Apparently the guy designing it got to the letter u and said, "Yerra, feck it lads, we've enough there now to be getting on with." That's a bit Oirish.
3 PADRAIG HARRINGTON
The American golf commentators were quick to make up their minds on his first name. "We're going to go with porridge." Unusual for a Yank, says you, remembering the size of the people waddling around Cape Cod. They never go with porridge. Padraig is sporting a beard this year, maybe to bring him some luck on the course. A middle-aged man growing a beard in the hope that it will improve his scoring. It wouldn't be the first time.
4 RORY MCILROY
Hang on a minute. He still hasn't really told us if he's Irish or British. Damn you Rory, with your modern, sensible, foot-in-both-camps approach to this sort of thing. Here's a word of advice, though. You might want to keep completely clear of the Irish media this year. Someone is bound to ask what you think of 1916. We're all livid down here. Mainly because we sat through every minute of RTE's Rebellion. It was nearly as exciting as watching golf. Nearly.
5 MICHELLE SMITH
After four medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Michelle was banned in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample. We were livid. She had committed the ultimate crime for an Irish person. Getting caught, says you. No. Showing us up in front of the Yanks. All perspective goes out the window when a true Gael is faced with a visiting American. Here are two words for anyone who doubts this. Donald Trump. Ah Jesus! The harp!
Sunday Indo Life Magazine