How does Battlefield Barrens and the Siege of Orgrimmar relate to 12th-century Irish history? You'd have to ask Allen Tatman, energetic GM of Ná Clan Cáilte on Blackwater Raiders (US-Horde) and owner of Paddy Malone's Irish Pub in Jefferson City, Mo. The enthusiastic WoW fan has managed to cross-pollinate his Irish heritage with his passion for World of Warcraft and his Irish-flavored business. His enthusiasm has lured patrons and employees alike to Azeroth and steered fascinated Americans to Ireland on his guided Wylde Irish Tours. His imaginings about his tauren character have evolved into a full-fledged novel, and he's already toying with ideas for a prequel.
But back to the connections between Siege of Orgrimmar and Irish history -- how does that all work? We'll let Allen Tatman tell the tale amidst his own (something for which the Irish are renowned, after all).
Main character Tarbhdonn, Shu'halo (tauren) beastmastery hunter
Guild Ná Clan Cáilte (The Lost Family)
Realm Blackwater Raiders (US)
WoW Insider: World of Warcraft and owning an Irish pub -- I love to see the results of blending interests with as much panache as you have! Do you have Irish roots beyond your ownership of an Irish pub?
Allen Tatman: My ancestral roots to Ireland are deep and varied, but my most recent connection is to my great-grandfather, who can to the States from Donegal in 1906 at the age of 18. He spent his last years living with my grandparents, who took care of me while my parents were at work, so I was around my great-granddad a lot before I started school. He died when I was 6, so I didn't really understand all of the "Irish" connection until I was in college studying history, and it was then that my interest in my heritage began to flourish. Since that time, I have always had a strong interest in Irish history and culture.
How did that interest develop into owning an Irish-flavored business?
My family owned a tavern in Hannibal, Mo., and as a child I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons in the bar and loved it. I started busing tables and washing dishes when I was 13, then worked in the kitchen, and while in college I tended bar part time to help with the bills (mostly beer bills). I always wanted to own a bar, but I was dissuaded by my family -- they wanted me to have "the better life than we had" thing, you know. So after graduate school I floundered around doing various uninteresting jobs that had nothing to do with my educational background in American Ethno-History.
In 1994, I landed in Jefferson City, Mo., working for the State Historic Preservation Office. I used to stop after work on occasion at a venerable old bar in Jeff City called Pat's Place. Every time I stopped by, I always thought "This place could be great if they knew what they were doing." Be careful what you wish for, because when the place came available for sale in 2000, I jumped in.
The major problem was that the three previous owners had run the business into the ground, and its reputation was not very good. Along with my wife Marilee and my Uncle Tommy, we cleaned it up and changed the name to Paddy Malone's (after another great-great-grandfather on my mother's side of the family). Tommy runs the kitchen, I manage the bar, and Marilee takes care of the books.
We have tried to make it as authentic an Irish pub as can be found in mid-Missouri, one of the last family-owned and -operated establishments in town. Our philosophy is simple: We have created a place where we want people to feel at home -- safe, relaxed, with good food, good drink, and a warm Irish welcome. We pay a good wage here and offer health benefits, usually unheard of in the bar and restaurant business. Because we treat our employees like family, we rarely have staff leave us, unless they find something in a chosen career field. We have been blessed and the business has continued to flourish for 13 years.
But that's not the only business venture you've launched that involves Ireland, is it?
In 2004, I started taking groups of customers from here to Ireland on tours. This has been a side business to feed my Ireland addiction, and as I write this to you, I am preparing on leaving this week to guide my twelfth tour of Ireland.
And so let's fold in WoW. Tell us what the telltale giveaway that you're a WoW player is for patrons of your pub.
Sitting on the red mahogany back bar of Paddy Malone's, next to the Rosetta Stone Irish Gaelic Language Edition and the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, is a handcrafted bodhrán, the traditional hand drum of Celtic music. On the goatskin head of the drum is a blood-red Horde symbol appliqué, along with the words in Celtic print "Ná Clan Cáilte." This is the single biggest giveaway that a WoW enthusiast is somewhere in the vicinity.
Also, I sometimes wear my THUNDER BLUFF WARSTOMPERS T-shirt.
In the past, when we started the guild in 2010, we had placed recruiting posters around the bar, and it helped us get some members.
Nice! What's the general reaction to the WoW touches?
The general reaction from folks when the discover that I play is "Really?" ... Others kind of look at me askance and wonder why a 52-old-man plays a video game. These people were raised by the heathens, think nothing of spending hours watching so called "reality" television, and they will never understand the camaraderie and interaction that comes along with playing an MMO game, so I simply ignore them.
What gave you the idea to use the Horde symbol on something so traditionally Irish?
When I started playing WoW, I dove deep into the lore; I'm a history guy, and lore is everything. I think that was my greatest attraction to the game -- the rich and complex story behind these characters. It truly is a world within itself, and it was so easy for me to get lost within.
The history of the Irish people has been one of oppression, struggle, and tragedy, yet beneath has always been a profound sense of optimism. The Horde, it seems to me, is very much this same way. In Irish history, there have been great victories and heroes as well as crushing defeats and betrayals, same as the Horde.
The new storyline with the current Battlefield Barrens and the Siege of Orgrimmar has me very much intrigued. It echoes of the episode in Irish history in the 12th century when MacMurrow was defeated in battle by O'Rourke, and MacMurrow asked the Norman English knight Strongbow to help him take back his holdings, allowing a foothold for English occupation of Ireland for the next 800 years. Will the Alliance gain more lands after the defeat of Garrosh? Who will be the new Warchief in this vacuum of power? This is the stuff I love about WoW!
Another similarity I see is the tribal and clan system within the races of the Horde. Unlike the Alliance, which has a true hierarchy of royalty and heredity in place, the Horde is tribal, very similar to the old Celtic/Gaelic clan system of the Irish.
Then there is the connection of the tauren and orc with war drums. The symbol is so strong with the tauren that they mount drums on their war kodos.
And, it makes for a nice conversation piece during our traditional Irish music sessions when people ask me about the significance of the symbol and the name. Most people, even if they have not played WoW, are familiar with the game because of the television commercials, or perhaps they have a child or grandchild that plays. I have even had customers try out the free version of the game, and one fellow has even become quite the raider on another server, and it all started with his introduction because he asked about the bodhrán.
Do people ever ask why you play a tauren instead of a dwarven hunter?
Simple: Dwarves in WoW are Scottish, not Irish. Their accent unmistakably points that out. Unfortunately, many Americans do not make the distinction.
Tell us about the novel you've written about your tauren character.
As I said before, when I started playing the game I was soaking up the lore like a sponge, and I began to think how would Tarbhdonn fit into this world, what would his life been like growing up in Azeroth, how would he have been drawn into the world of a hunter. I started by writing a short story, then another, and one of my guildmates said that I should flesh it out -- and thus was the genesis of The Path of the Hunter. Four hundred and fifty-two pages later, I had a manuscript.
After inquiring about the possibility of Blizzard buying the novel, they informed me they did not look at unsolicited manuscripts. So if I do publish, it will be a small-run, self-published venture where I might give copies to my close friends, or I may publish it online at a fan fiction site. But I really didn't write it to make money or be famous. I wrote it for me and for the fun -- or "for the Craic!" as they say in Ireland.
Well since you still play WoW, of course, what about a sequel?
I have already written a long short story that I could easily be expanded about Tarbhdonn's father, Caobháin, and his dark journey from being a tauren warrior to becoming a death knight, so it is really a prequel. And I have been writing notes for a sequel about Tarbhdonn's adventures with the Siege of Orgrimmar. I love writing. It is a relaxing way to contemplate the gameplay and lore of WoW, and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction. It is just a matter of finding the time.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.