“If you really want more shout it out louder” – Usher.
OK so before I launch into a tribute, the story begins, and this one needs a bit of an introduction. Even those that once worked with me in PJ Gallagher’s Irish PubI’m not sure I’ve told it all before in this much detail on here or not, but it deserved another try. After a horrendous year in 2009, I ended up backpacking through Taiwan (as you do) and living in the land down under, Australia. I have no idea how or why life took me there – it just did. You don’t question it. You get on with it.
“Time grabs you by the wrists, directs you where to go.” – Green Day
It was one of those spur of the moment things – book my ticket and I arrived in Sydney, from Kuala Lumpur where I was backpacking with my travel buddy Natalja. As typical as my life has ever been, I arrived in Australia with virtually no money. I never once worried about it. Life’s too short to worry about $h1t like that. Luck was on hand and a twist of fate led to me getting a job in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub. I had about 5 minutes free internet time in Singapore a few days before my flight, I simply googled “irish pub sydney” and fired ONE quick backpacker style e-mail to the first Irish Pub that came up. That was PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in a place I’d never ever heard of – Parramatta. When I landed in Australia, I had myself a job interview lined up already, after just a few days.
For the record, in my entire time living in Australia, I had only 2 job interviews and got them both (the other was for a job on a broccoli farm/other harvesting work). I have no idea what went through Angela Gallagher’s mind that day when she interviewed a scruffy, casually dressed, blatant backpacker for a job in an Irish Pub. Angela may never know this, but she changed the course of my life forever by giving me that job. Sure, I could have looked up another bar and applied and probably got the job, but nowhere could have affected me or inspired me as much as PJs in Parramatta, Australia.
It was all in the hands of the Gods my friends. I was down to my last few dollars staying for a free night in a hostel in the Blue Mountains when I found out I got the job…whatever I was feeling that morning as I backpacked in mist at Wentworth Falls, I went to sleep with a new job and had also bagged a new flat within 24 hours. It was that fast.
“I can’t sleep, cos the world won’t wait.” – Noel Gallagher
By the way, this post will be the first of TWO posts this week on my time working in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta. The reason for that is, I’m going to put a bit of inspiration on it into my Sunday’s Inspiration series (hopefully get it typed up by this Sunday) I’ve touched on it before on numerous occasions, but with almost three years having passed since I danced my final dance and served my final pint in that pub, it’s time to reflect on how working in this Irish Pub changed the course of my life forever.
Quick introduction before I salute my friends and heroes, as individually and honestly as I can…
I shared a room in a flat with two other guys when I moved to Parramatta, there were six of us in the flat. I spent hardly any money each week. Food and one night out a week was it. Then I started working 5, 6 and even sometimes 7 nights a week. I was always on hand to fill in for people and do any shift. I was ready and eager to work there and I loved it. If you ever met me in that job, you might remember me as a happy go lucky backpacker type living the dream. Well it was, but only because of the people I worked with. My previous job had been in a restaurant and bar on the England to France ferries when I lived in Europe, I had split with a girlfriend and I was really really down. I felt I had nothing left in life, really. I’m not ashamed to admit that I almost killed myself in early 2009. (If you do want to read that story, it’s my “Stop Living” moment, I covered it properly recently, known more positively as: My Bournemouth Story).
But from the moment I started working in PJ Gallagher’s the old me returned. I spoke to people, I drank beer again, I partied, I saved money, I worked hard and I plotted some new travel dreams. After exactly a year working there (give or take my farming months in Tasmania) I had saved hard for a trip to Antarctica and South America. I was always on a tight budget but had lived my dreams through money earned, saved and not spent in Australia. Plus I met some cool people. In fact, the cool people are the ones that changed my life and the only reason for this article and my happiness and success in the last few years…
“Happiness lies in your own hands” – Madonna.
Never underestimate the power a job can have over your life or how it can change things for the better forever. I went from having zero money in Sydney, to travelling to all seven continents. At the same time, I had slowly built up this travel blog, which I now earn a living from and features amongst the best travel sites on the planet (number 24 on Digital Mint, number 74 in the top 100 on Compete on Nomadic Samuel and comfortably top 10 on Blogs Monitor – at one point being number 1). I’m pretty proud of this site and the whole last 5 years of my life, and it all began in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta…
“I get this feeling I’m in motion, a sudden sense of liberty” – New Order
I’m in tears writing this by the way, but in a good way. I want to get you thinking about those moments and times of your life when you were totally inspired by people or places around you when you least expected it. Bar staff know the score. Bar staff are among the most intelligent, friendly and culturally aware people on the planet. They know more than politicians. I’ve drank with politicians and big business owners and didn’t get as inspired as much as a conversation down the pub with bar staff.
“Spend your nightlife table hopping, trying to keep your bag of bones in trim” – Noel Gallagher
To my friends, the staff and customers of PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta Australia. This one’s for you. I salute you and I was truly inspired by you. You’re my heroes. In fact without having worked there, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. Thanks. Only cool people worked in PJs. We don’t do boring…
“She took me in and gave me breakfast” – Men at Work
Who was I? A cheapskate backpacking Northern Irish lad on a quest to see the world, leaving the past behind me, living, working and saving money in the land down under and having a load of fun too!
“You’ll never change what’s been and gone.” – Noel Gallagher
Thats right. Lock the past up. Fuck the past when times are bad. Make a brand new start. Big time. Hello, Parramatta.
When I got the job in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub, I saw it as merely another job on life’s corridor. It became a lot more than that.
“Ooh baby baby it’s a wild world” – Cat Stevens
I met some amazing and inspiring people in that job. More inspiring than they could ever know. I want to name check a few people from that Irish Pub here. They’ll probably never read this or understand how big an impact they had on my life. You made me happy and changed my life forever.
“Ive never been an also ran.” – The Supernaturals
Over to my heroes. A list that oozes personality and I’ve done my best to include you all. Apologies to those I didn’t get a photo with and those I’ve left out. I’ve tried my best to cover everyone. Thanks guys…in no particular order…
“Living in a land down under, where women glow and men plunder.” – Men At Work
Jac Jac Jacqui. The girl with the radiant smile and exuberant charm. One day when I was cheeky to this young lady she hit out at me “Jonny!! I trained you!!” Yes you did. Thanks 🙂 Might see you in South America this Summer! Jacqui also shares my love for radio. Just a tad good looking as well…a notable trend in PJs…
Ilka Andriejunas – I’ll never spell Ilka’s surname correctly (i cheated and used Facebook for that) but I’ll never forget this fun loving, high spirited, no nonsense barmaid. Nor will anyone that ever meets Ilka. An unforgettable barmaid. We worked on Brew Bar together more times than could ever be counted. It was sheer bliss. “Are you that new Irish guy?” [Ahem, yes that will be me, hello]
Carla Said – High on energy, hard working mentality and positivity. I worked with Carla so many times and had a lot of fun with her.
Kristie Lee Jankowski – The first time I worked a Saturday night it was Kristie and I on the bar. Top girl – we did some partying too and watched the 2010 World Cup Final together.
Michael Gomez – Michael and I watched a few football matches together, including a great night for the 2010 World Cup Final. Worked on the bar a load of times with Michael too. Good times.
Christopher Ongcal – Chris was the chef when I started working there, great lad!
Nadine Saad – Nadine with her wild hair and slim figure was there at the start before she went backpacking round Europe. She’s now a proud Mummy.
Rhiannon – I loved the sheer vitality and inspiration of Rhiannon. I didn’t see her after about January 2010 though, so over 4 years now. There was a rumour that she got her boobies out for $50 AUD at the staff party, gutted I missed that, and yes it was only a rumour. She’s in a photo with me below, breasts covered of course.
Aydin Buyaku – ouch Aydin is the first on this list who I never got a photo with, there’s a few others. Sorry Aydin – hope things are good with you!
Jenni Larcombe – Boss for a while and a down to earth hard working bar manager. Loved working with her. Even with a $hit beard.
Sally – Sally worked for a while with me and then one day she was gone. People did come and go in this job a lot. There will be a reason why most blokes remember Sally. No photo sadly 🙁
Charlotte – Charlotte was another wandering one, a traveller, a global girl. I kind of expected to meet her in some far flung place at some point. We haven’t managed it just yet but I’m sure we will. We’re always in touch on Facebook. Memories linger Charlotte – see you again sometime for sure! You know it!
Yvette Cochrane – Another traveller and everybody’s friend. Yet another lady to raise the spirits of those around her. Just by being there. Until next time, Jet Set Yvette.
Lisa Di Marco – Another high spirited and busy girl, must be some Italian influence with that surname. I enjoyed working with Lisa – think she told me I got a bit drunk and flirted with her once. I really don’t remember. Hopefully the memories will be good, Lisa.
Marlee Burden – The prettiest one. Every bar needs a girl this attractive to keep the customers coming. It was hard to look anywhere else when she was around, I won’t lie.
Alanna Rados – A cool girl to work with and have a chat to, if her name wasn’t enough intrigue for you.
Faye Marie Hollingsworth – Worked with me towards the end and always in the downstairs ground floor bar. She often gave me a lift home. Thanks, Faye Marie.
Ann – I partied with Ann in the Hilton one night. A bit of a no nonsense manager actually but always recognised hard work.
Anthony – One of many bouncers/doormen in PJs. One not to mess with. Other doormen – Charlie, Chad and James also top lads and hard as nails (no photos with them to share sadly).
Daniel – Was there at the start and gone at the end. Did manage to have a few drinks with him at one of the staff parties though.
Cobi Johnston – The boss for a while and a cool boss to have. Extremely good looking girl – do you see a pattern emerging with the PJs staff?
Corky – Corky was Ian Corke and the boss for a while, always treated me well and loved a few drinks too.
Rachel Ferris – Rachel left PJs to become an actress. With her high spirit and fun personality, she’ll be a huge success for sure.
Hannah Wicks – Hannah was the girl that had to give me a lift home one night when I got kicked out of the Albion Pub on my leaving do before my South America trip. Bar work with Hannah was always good fun. She went Walkabout to England once and I hope our paths cross again.
Nicole Orzecki – Nicole was my boss for a while and a top boss. When the Australia Day fireworks were on I was able to go and watch them, always well looked after by Nicole, who I sadly haven’t seen since 2010.
Teigan – Then there was Teigan. A barrel of laughs to be around. Now the coolest Mummy in Sydney and a great girl to party with. Teigz. I’ll want to cath up with her next time I’m in Sydney for sure. FOR SURE.
Simon Hopkins – Came and went and headed to the other PJs in Drummoyne (where I also once worked). He was a big Sydney FC fan and we watched some games together!
Crystal Fletcher – Crystal was there at the start when I worked in PJs and I didn’t see her again – remember her though!
Nicole M – Nicole was also there at the start and gave me the induction notes and contract to sign. She was pregnant and headed off to be a Mummy.
Julius – He was known as the slut of PJs! I worked with him a few times and always found him to be a typical Aussie lad.
Satish – Another of the Nepalese crew who I worked with and included on the party boat photo below with Paul.
Paul Devine – The token Irish manager. Well, not really but top bosses are hard to find and Paul always looked after me – giving me the hours I wanted, keeping me going and even making sure I had a job after I took 4 months off to go backpacking in South America and Antarctica.
Joel Burden – Marlee’s younger brother who I worked with a few times before leaving. A top lad and I was slightly envious of him being so young and vibrant, I was 31 when I left that job!
Chris Bodart – Hope I’ve spelt his name right! There weren’t many Europeans working in PJs – Chris was from Belgium and we had fun working on the Ground Floor bar at weekends.
Laura O’Keefe – Laura’s Irish sounding surname had me fooled – she wasn’t another Emerald Isler but an Aussie. Loved doing the downstairs bar with Laura towards the end of my time in PJs. A cool girl to hang out with. I miss her.
Ultima – Hot looking staff was something that PJs revelled in. Ultima was a proper good looking girl who knows all about bar work. Not sure she enjoyed her stints in the Gaming Room but an absolute pleasure it was to work with her.
Pravin – We had a load of cool staff from Nepal and Pravin and I had a few great times doing stock together. One night we got blitzed after a 12 hour shift. We were on Jagerbombs and I don’t remember getting home!
Ashleigh Elma Turk – No photo of me and Ashleigh she came and went in a flash. You can add Ashleigh to the “sexy PJs Girls calendar” for sure.
Anthony Masters – Anthony and I worked doing stock together a few times.
Christy Villaroel – A happy Mummy that I worked with a few times on the Ground Floor bar.
Bianca Cronan – One of the smallest yet most fun girls I ever worked with. Along with Brad, it was Bianca who was the last person I saw before I left the land down under in 2011.
Casey Quantick – Down to earth, a proud, hard working and clever bar girl. I remember one of our cool conversations – I told her I was a cheap backpacker and I’d sleep in a shed if I had to. She said “I love travel but I’m all about 4 and 5 star hotels!”. At least we agreed on travel and enjoying life in the bar. Must be a photo somewhere of us together, can’t find it tonight!
Cheree Brown – Worked in the office as well as a few bar shifts and always looked after me – got an invite to that posh Hotels Have Hearts event from Cheree. Thanks!
DJ Dave (David Montgomery) – TOP DJ. On the last shift he played a few cool tunes for me and we grabbed a photo. Sadly it was one of the ones I lost, which means I have to return to have a beer with DJ Dave someday.
Charlie (the Bouncer) James (the Bouncer) – The hard lads – down to earth and cool bouncers/doormen! Wouldn’t mess with them but they’d protect us from the dickheads that love to fight!
Pat Gallagher (the owner supreme) – Yes Pat was the owner and he had to like you for you to keep your job. The pub was sold in 2011 though and new owners came in, but I preferred the days when Pat was in charge.
Angela Gallagher – Pat’s wife and the reason I worked in PJs in the first place. Angela interviewed me and in an instant changed my life and fortunes FOREVER. Just think if she hadn’t given me that job, I wouldn’t be writing this now, none of these photos would exist and all you cool PJs people – we would NEVER have met. Amazing eh?? Thanks so much Angela – you changed my life.
Ethan Truong – Another cool lad, always up for a laugh working on the bar! Ethan’s in the group photo below.
Greta Guajardo – The charm of a girl like Greta is unforgettable. She had hair longer than my time in Australia and we shared a few decent nights on the Ground Floor Bar working together.
Jill Moran – I found out recently that Jill was actually working the day I first walked into PJs and she remembered me and helped hire – so thanks Jill! Jill was manager in PJs for about 3 years and I enjoyed working with her. She’s now living the life in England and maybe I’ll see her again. You can add Jill to the list of PJs Hotties by the way.
Michael Klamo – The Klam. Bit of a cool lad and always wanting a chat and to be around people. I’m sure he’ll be doing bigger and better things than clearing glasses from drunks these days!
Michelle – I think Michelle was part British, but no doubt if she reads this she will let me know and will be corrected. Enjoyed the staff party with her in 2010.
Nirajan and Raju – two top Nepalese guys that helped out on the busy bar nights, refilling the fridges, collecting glasses and enjoying the atmosphere.
Kirsty – Kirsty was there right at the start of my time in late 2009 but she had left within a few weeks of me starting.
Jenni – Jenni was a Dublin girl who was there for a few months and came to my leaving drinks party too.
Tamara McGowan – I partied with Tamara a few times but haven’t seen her since about 2010. She also watched the 2010 World Cup Final with us.
Tamara Lewis – While at first Tamara might have seemed shy, she was a really really confident and vivacious girl out on the town. In fact, I have a story about Tamara which is probably best not printed here. A few of you might know the story.
Adam McCarron – I worked with Adam towards the end of my time in PJs – a bit of a cheeky manager but fun to be around on the bar with.
Sheree O’Reilly – I won’t forget lively Sheree – she was the only other girl I worked with from Northern Ireland in PJs! A cool girl to work with and apart from one night in the bar after work, we oddly never really met for drinks.
Alex May Thacker – I worked with Alex towards the end of my time in Australia – it was 2011 on my second working holiday visa. Alex is a cool girl and one of the few that regularly we comment on each other’s stuff on Facebook.
Kate Buckley – Kate was a fun and friendly bar girl who I did a bar with on St. Patrick’s Day as well as PJs Bar on busy Saturdays.
Andrew (chef) – I’m pretty sure I won’t remember all the chefs and kitchen staff so apologies to those who aren’t on here at the moment. Andrew was also around when I worked and came for a few drinks on some of the night out too.
Steve – Steve was a funny “old school” manager who came in and worked for about 3 months before quitting. I really liked him but “I don’t need the money” he said and out he walked.
Texas – Anyone remember this girl that worked a few shifts and left?? Her real name wasn’t Texas, but she was from Texas, USA so we nicknamed her “Texas”.
Smiddy – Dodgy Indian guy who came in for a few shifts at the end before I left. In fact, I’d have to say he was probably the only person I ever worked with in PJs who I didn’t like. Sorry mate, but you annoyed me.
James – A young manager who worked in PJs in 2011 when it was taken over by Iris Pub Group.
Kristyn O’Grady – I really liked Kristin but rarely worked with her. Another of the PJs pin up girls.
Bobbie – I only remember Bobbie as she broke my camera! On my last shift I took my camera in (again) for some last photos. None of them came out and not only had Bobby taken my role on Saturday nights on the Brew Bar that night but I asked her to get a photo of me, Brad, Ilka and Carla and she dropped the camera in the bar. By accident. And that was that. I met her once only.
Brooke – I worked with Brooke only once – she came back for a one off shift having used to have work there before I started.
Mark Woods – Mark was a cool lad – down to earth chef who normally cooked my pizzas for my tea break. He headed up to Queensland to work.
Cassie – Cassie was a very fun and crazy chick. She has reminded me of several girls I’ve known down the years, but all rolled into one. I enjoyed her flirts.
Clinton – Clinton came in to manage when the pub was taken over by Iris Group towards the end of my reign. He always gave me the shifts I wanted though I barely got to know Clinton as I headed to Hong Kong.
Rody – Worked in the kitchen helping out for a bit.
Pat Kemkemian – Pat and I worked on Brew Bar quite a bit – he was always managing and was another cool lad to work with.
Rebecca Buffrey – Bec was my boss for a while too. We used to love the early morning Sundays in the pub – calm, shifts drinking coffee. I’d normally work the Saturday night until 3am ish then home to sleep and back in at 10am to open the bar.
Smiley – Kitchen staff and he smiled a lot. Good for the feel good vibe round the pub!
Szabina Varga – I met Szabina the night I signed my contract as she was on the bar. The thing is I was freaked out straight away because she was Hungarian. At the time it seemed that I just couldn’t escape or shrug off my Hungarian ex-girlfriend. There were reminders of her EVERYWHERE I went, weird to meet Szabina as she was the only other foreigner on the bars at the time and happened to be from Hungary. A great girl though and a good barmaid!
Ronny Ghantous – Ronny was the main chef and a top lad. Also partied with Ronny in the Sydney Hilton on my poshest night ever since doing PR in London.
Karen/Kaz – Bubbly, lively girl up for a laugh. Another time, another place…
Jenny Foster – The third Jenny on the list – Jenny worked full time and was a busy girl elsewhere but filled in a few bar shifts in PJs so I got to work with her too.
Paul Hewitt – Paul was the main chef for most of my time working in PJs and I liked him. He was fun to work with. When Iris came in to take over the pub though, there was a dispute behind the scenes and he no longer worked there. Last time I saw him was a cool night though – we partied at his flat where he had his own bar with a load of whiskeys!
Alan (new chef) – Alan came in with the new Iris group and the menus in the kitchen all changed. Never partied with Alan but worked with him quite a bit.
Manjil – Another of the famous Nepalese Army working in PJs – Manjil worked weekends only.
Patel Chetan – Patel was a hard working Indian that I met towards the end. A really good bloke.
Damian Gatte – In the last few months of working in PJs I worked upstairs with Damian quite a bit on the bar there. Just overall top bloke, gave me a lift home a few times and we also had an acoustic strumming session in the pub car park one night. I gave him my guitar as I was leaving for Hong Kong.
Brad Duffell – There’s a reason for Brad being at the end of this list and it’s a good one – he was the last PJs person I saw as he gave me a lift to the airport the morning I left Australia and I haven’t been back since. In fact I just realised typing this that I moved to Australia in 2009 as a backpacker with 2 bags and left in 2011 with 1 hand luggage bag only!!
Yes unbelievably when I left Sydney that morning, I only had one small bag of hand luggage. The other bag I owned, I just gave it to Brad – I didn’t need extra stuff.
I worked with mostly girls so when Brad and I manned the bar together it was a lads bar!! It was fitting that when my last ever shift at PJs came round, it was Brad and I jumping about at 5am on the bar. My final memory working there was Brad and I going crazy to Usher song “More”. Like jumping up and down like madmen squirting water at customers and each other. “You guys are fucking awesome” was shouted at the bar by a customer and it was time to shut up shot as DJ Dave ended his session for the night, last orders had gone and that was that. It was Goodnight Parramatta and this time it was true. I was gone.
“Like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone in the morning sun” – Meatloaf.
“You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone. In 14 flying hours I’ll be landing in Hong Kong.” – Cold Chisel
So yeah thanks guys – I loved working with you all and though I’ve touched on it before, I felt I needed to write about PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta once again. To keep you all in the loop – I left this job just under 3 years ago and I’m now on a crazy quest to visit 100 countries (I ticked off the 7 continents thing in 2011 while still in PJs), watch the World Cup Live in Brazil and I’m living my travel dreams now by working in the travel industry. From the days of being a full time barman, farmer and ice cream seller, I’ve used Don’t Stop Living and my stories as my platform to transform into a “business backpacker” with a load of new projects going on in my life at the moment. I’m a full time professional travel blogger now. It’s lucky I didn’t know there was this much money in travel writing back in 2009, I’d probably not have met you all…
“you turn around and life’s passed you by” – The Doves.
Also – to those I haven’t mentioned or forgotten but you worked with me – I have tried to remember and include as many people as I could in this post sorry you didn’t all feature! E-mail me or comment below and I’ll add you in! I’m always up for a crazy reunion with any of you around the globe.
Hopefully it won’t be too long until I get to return to the land down under and relive this sort of shit:
And thanks to Usher for those words of wisdom. It’s pretty true folks…
“If you want more, scream it out louder”
…and lastly – who can tell me did either Teigan or Ultima bare their boobs on the party cruise that night? 😉