that Big Ben was a Big Hit on the Emerald Isle! No, no…we’re not talkin’ last summer! On his first trip, in June of 2012!
Ben and three of his close friends headed off to both Ireland and Scotland that summer to play some of the finest and most difficult golf courses you can find.
“It’s going to be awesome. Three days in Ireland and a week in Scotland … 12 rounds in 10 days. So we have a lot of golf to play at some of the best courses in the world.” — Ben, in an interview prior to his trip.
Well, it turned out to be awesome for quite a few fans too – Irish, Scottish and American fans not only met Ben during his trip, but shared their photos and stories right here with Steeler Nation!
And just in case you’re in the mood for trip down memory lane on a fine St. Patrick’s Day…
First stop, the airport!
Gina Huss met Ben on her way to Dublin:
There were 6 of us (all born and raised in Pittsburgh!) going on a trip to Europe where we would be visiting Ireland, Wales, England, and France.. For 2 of us, it was our senior trip! We had a layover in Atlanta and then would be flying from there into Dublin airport. So there we were just hanging out in the Atlanta airport when our adult chaperone came running over to us flailing her arms and freaking out because she just saw Big Ben with some friends at the nearby restaurant! Naturally all being from Pittsburgh, we approached him calmly and told him we were from Pittsburgh and wondered if we could take some pictures with him.
He was so nice and took pictures with all of us! He asked where we were going, and one of his friends even knew the school district we were from! It was very cool to also find out that he was going to be on our flight to Dublin and that he was going golfing in Scotland!
To add to the already exciting meeting, when we boarded the plane and passed by him in first class, he acknowledged us as the “Pittsburgh senior trip crew” and raised his glass to us and told us to have lots of fun! We were absolutely mindblown! It was a very cool way to start off our European trip!
Perfect timing: this story found it’s way to us on St. Patrick’s Day morning last year!
Duncan Purcell, County Kerry, Ireland:
I am a PGA Golf Professional at Ballybunion Golf Club, Ireland. Last spring on a quiet afternoon, I was in our Pro Shop and in walked Ben and 3 of his buddies. We don’t get much NFL here in Ireland, but I had followed Ben and his Steelers team from their Super Bowl run and win from the previous year. It’s always enjoyable meeting top sports people and personalities.
I had a brief exchange with his golfing partners, and then plucked up the courage to ask Ben for a hand shake. He was very obliging so I asked for a photo with him and he had no problem with this. I’ve met many personalities in my job but I have to say that Ben is so approachable and down to earth.
I have relatives in the States that are HUGE Steelers fans and they were just as happy as I was to meet the man himself.
Great guy. And I shall forever be a fan of his. He’s always welcome back to Ireland, and especially Ballybunion!
The Luck O’ the Irish!
James Hurley, Big NFL fan:
Ben poses with James (left) and Jeremiah Buckley at Charlie Foley’s Pub in Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland.
“I was quite shocked when he came in as I have one of his jerseys at home, but I couldn’t go home to get it signed because I was working.
“Thank you so much! We have the picture framed in the bar and it is a real hit with all the Americans who visit us.”
And from the management at Charlie Foley’s Pub via Twitter to Ben’s website about his visit:
What a gentle giant! Came in to the pub and couldn’t be nicer. We have his picture on our wall, he is our adopted hero! We wish him the luck of the Irish!
At the 13th on the Old Course!
David Field, Scotland’s famed St. Andrews Golf Course:
As a caddy, we see the ballot and all the names of players on the Old Course daily and obviously take note of the celebs that come through. I’m a huge American football fan even though I’m Scottish and coverage is limited over here. We had heard rumours of Big Ben being over in St. Andrews and when the ballot went up I noticed his name and my initial reaction was to just meet him!
It was on the 13th hole of the Old Course and I was caddying down the 6th which is adjacent. I looked over and noticed the size of the man and thought, ‘Wow that’s Big Ben!’. I immediately went over and asked for a picture while congratulating him on the Super Bowl wins and the most amazing TD pass ever to Santonio Holmes! Ben was a perfect gentleman and said he always loves to meet fans. Top man – top professional!
Wait? Is that? Na…it can’t be!
Chris McLaughlin, a chance meeting in Scotland:
I’m 24 years old, and for as long as I can remember, I have loved Titans Football. I’ve lived in the UK all my life and only visited the United States once a year. Living in the UK, football isn’t a very big thing. At work, I am the only person who knows anything to do with football. So for my day to take the path it took, well it’s almost unbelievable.
As I turned to lead the gentlemen to their table, I was thinking, “That man looks so familiar. It can’t be him can it? Ben Roethlisberger, here, at my work? thousands of miles away from Pittsburgh? Nah, it can’t be!”
It was. My legs were like jelly and my heart was going so fast, it would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money (no pun intended). As Ben and his companions were taking their seats, I couldn’t help but mention that he looked so familiar.
His response? “I get that a lot”. Right there I knew it was him.
“You wouldn’t happen to live in Pittsburgh would you?”, I asked.
“Yeah, we all do”, replied Ben. He extended his hand and I shook it. It completely engulfed my hand, but I didn’t care. I was so starstruck, you wouldn’t believe.
“I’m Ben, nice to meet you”, he continued.
Now, I’m not 100% sure exactly what I said next but my mind said I know exactly who you are”. He must have been a little surprised that I recognized him straight away. I would imagine he thought he would not encounter anyone who recognizes him in Scotland.
For the rest of the afternoon, I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it at all. I met him after his round of golf and asked how it went and congratulated him on graduating a month prior. I don’t know what I was expecting, but both he and his group were very friendly, and surprisingly easy to talk to.
Long way for a photo op!
Mick Mitchell, California:
Had to cross the pond to meet Big Ben!
Couldn’t have been nicer and more gracious! Me (standing next to Ben on the left in the black shirt and cap) and some friends from Napa, CA met Ben at Kingsbarns GC in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Bears fans that quickly became Ben fans!
Josh & Meghan Luetkehans, The Windy City:
We were in Scotland for my sister’s wedding and met Ben, his buddy Mike, and two other friends.
We had a great time and had a blast hanging out with them!
Ben also stopped to pose with Irishman James Cullinane, and three lovely lasses who were also visiting Ireland from the US.
Thank you all for sharing those photos & stories with us and Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of Steeler Nation!