Sparkler Spotlight: John "The Mindful Barman" Byrne

Sparkler Spotlight: John "The Mindful Barman" Byrne

As stressful as covid has been for remote teams, can you even imagine the stress levels of an Irishman who can't visit a pub because they are all closed due to covid? Well for one Irishman in particular, John, the thought of this was too much to bear, so he took matters into his own hands.

First he built a pub in his own basement. Next he invited guests form around the world to have a drink with him virtually. And finally, he uncovered the secrets behind why the Irish are the happiest people on earth, and how the Irish pub itself can help ease your daily stresses. Now John is sharing those secrets in his very own Spark - "Learn the art of Irish Pub mindfulness". Read on to learn more about this crafty barman.

Tell us about yourself and your Spark – “Learn the art of Irish pub mindfulness”.

I‘m John, and I’m just your everyday Guinness drinking, tour guiding, pub loving, whiskey sipping, Irishman coming to you from behind the bar of ‘The Irishman’s Pub’ in the greatest little city in the world, Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland.

My Spark is an Irishman’s Guide to Irish Pub Mindfulness, which gives guests a snapshot into the real importance of the Irish Pub and why truly understanding this special place is the secret to happiness… and here’s a little sneak peek - it’s not all about the drink (that's just a bonus!).

Your Spark links a pint of Guinness to mindfulness. It’s very unique! How did you come up with this idea?

Well the idea or the link might be unique, but the practice has been around for generations without even realizing it. You can go to Nepal to meditate with Buddhist Monks, you can learn yoga on the beaches of the Indian Ocean, or you can lie on the couch of a therapist for hours to search for mindfulness and peace.

But for me, real mindfulness can be found in the most unlikely place, in your local Irish Pub. It’s where I find my peace and it’s about time I share that little secret with the world.

As a veteran tour guide in ‘real life’, what has been the most challenging part to adjusting to the online experience world?

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve been very lucky to find what I love. With a passion for celebrating and showcasing Irishness, my ‘real life’ day would normally be busy, surrounded by people while tasting, sipping and often singing our way through aspects of Irish culture & history. Suddenly that all stopped. No Tourism, No Pubs, No People!

The challenge was not just waiting for all this to pass, but to find a way of continuing to do what I love. Adapting to a virtual experience has been interesting, especially for a non-techy guy like me, but where there's a will there's a way. In June I launched my first Online Experience, ‘The Irishman's Guide to Irish Whiskey’. It has been a huge learning curve but for a few hours every week I get to make people feel as if they are with me in an Irish Pub and that is almost as good as the real thing!

What has been your most memorable online experience moment?

Oh there have been a few very memorable moments, most funny, some sad and even one or two a little scary. But sometimes it's been hard to believe that the experience is virtual. Sometimes the screens fade away and the thousands of miles between myself and my guests vanish. We might as well be sitting beside each other on bar stools! It's the moments like that, that are truly memorable.

Now I could tell you some memorable moments, some hilarious and some shocking stories, but that's better done over a bar counter (or at least a virtual one on my Spark) with a drink in your hand.

We’ve left the most important question for last: If you were a WWE wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?

It was WWF in my day, when did that change? But tough question.

Being Irish, we do love our music, especially the kind of songs that tell a story. With so many amazing, inspiring and most importantly Irish songs to choose from, I’d have to choose something that inspires passion yet also would sound amazing blasting out of a stadium's sound system. The obvious answer would be The Foggy Dew sung by Sinead O’Connor, but Connor McGregor has taken that one and I’m not one for the obvious choice.

So I would have to choose a song that was meant to be the Irish Soccer supporter's song from the 1990 World Cup, but has morphed over the years into an unofficial national anthem - 'Put 'em Under Pressure!'. The background sample from the Irish band Horeslip's famous song "Dearg Doom" gave "Put e'm Under Pressure" real musical backbone which helped it become an anthem for the underdog. The simple name and message of the song helped with that too!


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