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Irish charm and Maritime closeness: New sitcom set at well-known Miramichi pub

Jimmy MacKinley co-created and is an actor is the show O'Don's. He plays a character called Geoff.  (Submitted by Jimmy MacKinley - image credit)
Jimmy MacKinley co-created and is an actor is the show O'Don's. He plays a character called Geoff. (Submitted by Jimmy MacKinley - image credit)

An Irish pub in Miramichi is the setting for a new TV show about the trials and tribulations of working at a bar.

Jimmy MacKinley, the co-creator and one of the actors in the show, said he was working on another show in Newfoundland when he got a call from the senior producer asking if he'd like to make a show in his hometown.

So he called up his friend, Arika McLean, who had an idea about doing a show that takes place in a pub, and before long, the two had signed on with Bell to do it.

MacKinley said at first, he didn't know where it would be filmed because the place he had in mind, O'Donaghue's Irish Pub, was up for sale, but luckily, the new owners, Carrol and Jamie MacDonald, were game.

Co-creators Jimmy MacKinley and Arika McLean, who originally had the idea for the sitcom, joined forces and signed on with Bell to make O'Don's a reality.
Co-creators Jimmy MacKinley and Arika McLean, who originally had the idea for the sitcom, joined forces and signed on with Bell to make O'Don's a reality.

Co-creators Jimmy MacKinley and Arika McLean, who originally had the idea for the sitcom, joined forces and signed on with Bell to make O'Don's a reality. (Submitted by Jimmy MacKinley)

"My executive producer, Sandy Hunter, spilled a beer on [the co-owner of the pub] immediately in the meeting … and they still liked the idea, which was odd because it's about horrible owners of a pub, and they're phenomenal," said MacKinley.

From that first meeting, O'Don's was born.

The sitcom, which is streaming on Bell Fibe TV 1, takes viewers inside a New Brunswick pub after it comes under new management — a "come from away" who thinks the bar could be an easy investment.

Carrol said despite Hunter spilling the entire glass of beer on her lap when he went to shake her hand, they just couldn't say no to the idea of the show.

She said MacKinley and Hunter were both funny and sold them on the project.

Jamie said it's a way for them to show their love for the community.

"We want to be part of the community and I think the pub's a big part of the community," he said.

"If there's something we can do that would help the Miramichi, help the people in the Miramichi, we're all over it."

Carrol and Jamie MacDonald own O'Donaghue's Irish Pub in Miramichi. The two were immediately on board with the idea to set a sitcom at the pub.
Carrol and Jamie MacDonald own O'Donaghue's Irish Pub in Miramichi. The two were immediately on board with the idea to set a sitcom at the pub.

Carrol and Jamie MacDonald own O'Donaghue's Irish Pub in Miramichi. The two were immediately on board with the idea to have a sitcom at their pub. (Submitted by Carrol MacDonald)

Filming for the show took place in August, the week after the local Irish Festival. Jamie said the timing worked out because it gave the staff a bit of a break. although the team was still working hard to provide meals for the cast and crew.

Fiona Clancey, 23, from Dartmouth originally, has one of the lead roles in the show and said it was lovely to get to spend time in the community.

One of the best parts about it is that everyone who worked on the project is based in the Maritimes.

"It's not every day that you get to be on a set where everybody actually is from the Maritimes, and you can really sense that on our set," said Clancey.

"Everybody became really close, really quickly, and it just sort of had that Maritime charm and closeness that we all know and love."

Clancey plays Maggie, the new hire at the pub, who is learning the ropes while also getting to know the personalities at the bar. In the first episode, her character naively says she thinks the job will be easy, which then infuriates the long-time server who is training her.

Fiona Clancey, who plays Maggie in the show, said everyone on set got really close.
Fiona Clancey, who plays Maggie in the show, said everyone on set got really close.

Fiona Clancey, who plays Maggie in the show, said everyone on set got really close. (Submitted by Fiona Clancey)

Just last week, Clancey said the cast and crew met again at a premiere party at O'Donaghue's.

"It was just lovely to see everybody again," she said. "Almost our entire cast and crew got to make it out to the premiere party because most of them are New Brunswickers."

The MacDonalds said it was an amazing experience.

"The energy was just busting out of the 200-year-old door," said Jamie.

The cast and crew reunited at O'Donaghue's for a premiere party.
The cast and crew reunited at O'Donaghue's for a premiere party.

The cast and crew reunited at O'Donaghue's for a premiere party. (Submitted by Fiona Clancey)

Carrol said while watching the show, it was great to see the small cameos from community members and regulars at the bar who got to make an appearance.

MacKinley said the response to the show so far has been overwhelmingly positive. He said people seem to be able to relate to the characters.

"Even people that don't know anyone from Miramichi, if they're watching this in, you know, a Tim Hortons parking lot in Winnipeg, I think they're gonna be able to relate."