Where Are They Now? The Guy From The Bar


THE iconic Irish advert featuring a handsome man exchanging furtive glances with a woman across the bar only to reveal he had a comical voice which sounded like a giddy ferret having the life squeezed out if captured the Nation’s heart when it first appeared on screens in 1999.

The ad for Esat Digifone went on to sweep all before it at the prestigious MIPCOM TV festival in Cannes in 1999 and increased the companies the profit tenfold.

This year will see it honoured again with a lifetime achievement award at MIPCOM, the ad’s director Quentin Tarantino will be there, the ad’s writer Roddy Doyle will be there, but one man who will be absent from the jubilant celebrations – THE guy from the bar himself.

After receiving word on how to contact the now retired actor, we sat down to talk to Rory Pearse at the scene of the ad’s filming, the Odeon bar on Dublin’s Harcourt Street.

“I don’t like this at all, too many bad memories here,” Rory said in his trademark god-awful catastrophically culchie accent.

Voice aside, what made Rory perfect for the role and resonate so much with audiences was that he was an absolute fucking ride. A piece of man hunk chiseled from granite, and the same could still be said of him today.

“It was a routine casting, like any other, looking back like, but obviously I wasn’t in on the joke,” Rory explained, his iconic voice breaking several times as it cascaded down its peaks and troughs, that unmistakable culchie screech which brought so much amusement to the TV viewing public all those years ago.

Sadly, his voice now clearly carried sad tones.

I decided to be brave and ask him to say the line:

“Ah, you can stuff it altogether if you’re going to make fun, I’ll leave like,” Rory said, in that same twee, shrill voice, clearly hurt by bemusement at what has been scientifically proven to be a hilarious voice.

Rory had spent years, starring in aftershave commercials which required only his looks, with none of them having speaking roles. The Esat Digifone ad represented a huge chance for him to make progress in his acting career.

However, after becoming the laughing stock of the Nation, he decided to flee the country. Rory was only back in Ireland for the first time since the ad aired, due to a death in the family.

“I moved around the world, in search of a place my voice didn’t draw sniggers of laughter, they were hard to find,” he explained, with the word ‘find’ trailing off into the cloud with that high pitched midlands squeal of his.

“If I’m being honest, it’s only in the last 2 weeks I’ve found what I’d like to call acceptance, and more importantly a piece in my soul,” the former actor shared in a hugely open way, however, I was more concerned with refraining from bursting out laughing.

Just where and how had he found this acceptance? Rory began showing me pictures and videos on his phone and I was astounded.

Rory had travelled for 17 years and only found a community of people who would not laugh at him on the small island nation of Micronesia, where a small village of Puna Vavatu had a population afflicted with exceptionally deep voices.

“When I went out there and talked with my voice, they didn’t laugh, they started chanting, and made me their king, they loved me for who I was, not like arseholes back here in Ireland,” Rory explained, as I noticed for the first time that he was wearing the traditional dress of the people Puna Vavatu, a grass skirt, and a wealth of face paint and elaborate nose piercings.


“Their voices are so deep, but their love for me is deeper,” Rory explained a solitary tear rolling down from his cheek.

It was moving.