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McMahon’s Barry McMahon moves on

Tuesday, Jul. 29 | By Julie Taylor
Fauquier Times Staff Photo Randy Litzinger
After tending the bar at his grandfather's namesake pub for almost a decade, Barry McMahon is moving on to his next adventure.

July 10 was his last bittersweet day at McMahon's Irish Pub and Restaurant, and although he has established a life for himself in Warrenton, he's lately been thinking more about his folks back at County Clare in Ireland.

"The older I get the more I miss and realize the importance of family," he said.

The 34-year-old said that as he grows older he's beginning to see what truly matters in life.

When McMahon was 16, he went out golfing with his dad—a sport for which he had fallen fast and heavy just a few years earlier. His father saw his budding potential, and got his son a course membership even before getting one for himself. But on a County Clare green that day, his dad suffered a fatal heart attack. His father's death shook the younger McMahon, and three years later he packed his bags to leave his village of 800 people.

With a total of $4,000, McMahon arrived in New York City. By the time he was situated, he had gone through $3,200. The job he had secured through a family friend proved to be inconsistent.

"Couldn't afford to call my mother for the first six weeks," he said in an Irish accent, somewhat subdued after living stateside for 15 years.

He remembers digging into a jar full of loose change one evening.

"I grabbed 300 one-cent pieces just to buy a bag of potatoes," he said.

He survived that city and moved down to D.C., later finding himself in Warrenton.

"In New York City and D.C, you hang around with your own people," he said. "I love Warrenton—home away from home."

His uncle, who owned The Dubliner, an Irish pub in D.C., worked with two other men to create McMahon's.

"The two guys that own it now are my best friends," he said. "Probably should've fired me a 1,000 times."

Although McMahon has become a seasoned bartender, for the last four years he has made a point to not drink at all.

While bartending, he has met a number of interesting people. A customer even gave a him a mantra that has shaped his life.

"Principle over personalities," his friend Speedy told him.

As McMahon's thoughts turn to his first home, his girlfriend, Katie Lee, told him she would leave the next day to join him in returning to a corner of Ireland that he describes as “like Middleburg on a smaller scale.”

But until then, he satisfies his desire to go back by organizing Irish golf tours.

Last year, the scratch golfer with a handicap of one started Irish Golf Academy, and within one year he gained over 100 clients.

About 20 of those are swept up for an annual golf trip around Ireland which his family there not only joins in, but leads the group in traditional Irish songs as they ride through the country.

Here in Fauquier County, McMahon has noticed some impressionable youths and has taken his time to give them golf lessons at no charge.

"I want them to get off the street corners," he said. "[Golf] gives kids such an opportunity. The game teaches you to bring the most important values into life."

When he's not making Bloody Marys, or giving golfing lessons, he might be pulling out the four hurling sticks he always carries with him in his car. He said the Irish sport is even more physical than rugby.

Last year, County Clare won the hurling title. McMahon keenly felt the absence of his father when he watched the game – but he brought his mother to see County Clare's victory.

"It was magic," he said.

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