Rory, more accurately known as Sir Roland Henry Wallace MacCormac IV, was bored. Leaving London and returning to his ancestral home, Doolin Tower, was all well and good… in theory. Since the renovation of the drafty stone structure, the nearby rural village had seen a very welcome and marked rise in tourism but, well, Rory wasn't really the country sort.
"I have a smashing idea," he informed his lifelong butler on one of Ireland's rare, sunny autumn days. "Let's sponsor a football match."
"A… football match, sir?"
"Yes, of course, Ian! Sports! Now that's how you increase tourism!"
Ian looked skeptical. "I highly doubt that rowdy footballers are the sort of visitors Doolin's village council would welcome, sir."
Rory grinned, happily imagining a lively crowd frolicking through the village's sleepy streets. "We might even have enough business for a second pub." Now that was something to look forward to!
Ian harrumphed. "You might as well start an ice hockey team and be done with it. Then the Americans will descend in droves."
Well, even that was bound to be better than staring at the surf all day, watching the boats dock and set sail like clockwork. Was it any wonder the visitors wandered off after an afternoon, preferring to drive thirty minutes south to the great Cliffs of Moher to spend their Euros? Doolin may be the MacCormac ancestral home, but it was dull. There was simply no getting around that.
Or was there?
"Ladies and gentlemen of the council," Rory began with a winning smile, addressing the six people gathered in Doolin's sole pub. Behind the bar, the pub master was washing up the beer mugs before opening for business. "I'd like to propose an annual event in Doolin—"
"We already host the Irish Music Fair," one be-spectacled and gray-haired woman interjected.
The woman on her left – equally nearsighted – nodded energetically. "We do get quite the crowd in summer!"
"Indeed," a balding man concurred. "Whatever would we do with morevisitors?"
Rory drew himself up and replied, "We'd take their money, of course."
A shocked murmur resonated through the council. Even the clinking and splashing behind the bar ceased.
"What Doolin needs is an annual football tournament."
This proclamation was met with astounded silence.
"Look, next year, we'll be entering a new millennium! It's time for this village to have a fresh start!" Rory continued persuasively.
But not persuasively enough.
"Out of the question."
"Why, we don't even have a local police force for dealing with foreigners and such!"
It looked like the end of Rory's idea, but looks could be deceiving.
"What is this?" Ian inquired warily, picking up a brightly colored sheet of paper that had tumbled off of the printer platform and fluttered to a graceful halt at his feet.
"Flyers!" Rory announced.
Ian's nose wrinkled. "To a football match," he read with great reluctance.
"Yes, I think we have just enough pitch for a charity event here at the tower. I've contacted my friends from uni and several have agreed to—"
"Break their legs when they fall down the hill, possibly be struck by a passing motorist when they roll to a halt in the middle of the road, and spend the remainder of the year fully encased in plaster?"
Rory gaped at the tower butler for a long moment.
Ian delicately replaced the flyer on the stack with an air of victory.
"That is brilliant!" Rory exclaimed, reaching for the stack and dumping the entire lot into the bin. "I'll have to include that," he decided, swiveling his office chair squeakily around and returning to his computer screen. "Pure genius, Ian. This is going to be grand!"
Ian sniffed. "That would depend on your definition of 'grand', sir," he intoned stiffly before marching off. Rory didn't hear him leave over the sound of his fingers typing out a wide range of possible near-death experiences onto a fresh flyer template.
As it turned out, the temptation of glorious battle scars was quite appealing indeed to his chums and fellow graduates of Lordsview College. In fact, not only the players but also their families, friends, coworkers, and a delightful mish-mash of off-key-singing fans answered Rory's well-publicized summons. Much to the dismay of Doolin's citizens.
The day of the football game dawned cold, blustery, and damp. The rain didn't so much fall as it joinedthefestivities. The players' jerseys were soaked and clinging, their knees muddy, their shoes squelching in the sodden pitch. Rory was having the best time of his post-university life… until he went to score.
His foot connected with the slippery, mucky football with absolute perfection. It arced through the air, bending at just the right angle. It was over the goalkeeper's mitts and plummeting toward the net – a goal for sure!
And then Rory's foot came down on a particularly boggy patch in the pitch and he fell. But no, he didn't just fall. The ground parted its jaws, yawned widely, and swallowed him up.
It took hours to fetch emergency assistance.
It took days before Rory felt up to receiving visitors.
"They're calling the caverns you, er…" Ian hesitated uncharacteristically as he perched on the edge of the uncomfortable plastic chair beside his employer's hospital bed.
"Found?" Rory supplied, grinning through his scabbed-over split lip and the colorful bruises on his face.
"Er, yes. They're calling it Doolin Cave."
Rory wheezed out a laugh. "Of course they are."
It took weeks before Rory's broken leg and hip were healed enough for him to get out of bed and roll up and down the hospital hallways in a wheelchair.
It took months before Rory stopped complaining about his physical therapy and started congratulating himself over it.
In 2006, Doolin Cave was opened to the public. This same year, Sir Roland Henry Wallace MacCormac IV presented yet another proposal to Doolin's village council. This time, no one refused him.
Rory MacCormac doesn't play football anymore. Now he tends bar at a sports pub in the seaside village of Doolin. People come to this remote place to visit its remarkable caverns, and then they stop by his bar to hear the story of their discovery firsthand. Of course, when Rory energetically welcomes them to "Doolin's second pub!" they simply – but bemusedly – smile and nod. It doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment to passersby, but if you happen to glance over the bar and into the office beyond, you'll see a former butler up to his elbows in receipts and ledgers, wearing a very proud smile.
. . . . .
Notes: Doolin, Ireland is a real place (and it has threewonderful pubs) and is known for its patronage of traditional Irish music and its close proximity to the Cliffs of Moher. I visited this fantastic town in September of 2007. Doolin Tower and Doolin Cave are also real, although the caverns were notdiscovered by anyone named Rory nor as recently as the late 1990s. When I looked at my photo of Doolin's tower (which was a private residence in 2007 and possibly still is today) and when I thought of the caves I hadn't had time to visit, this silly story popped into being. None of the characters in Doolin'sSecondPub are meant to represent actual people.
Extras: There's art that goes with Doolin'sSecondPub. To see the cover art (which is a photograph of Doolin Tower and Village taken by yours truly), check out my homepage. Thanks!