Great Days. Great People. JJFox etal.

El Presidente

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These are the type of days you always remember.

I headed down Tuesday to JJFox Dublin and spent a few memorable hours with David McGrane and Rob Fox. Now David is a 40 year stalwart of the cigar retail industry and encompasses all that is great about this business. His jovial nature, his unparalleled knowledge, his passion. Visiting JJFox, David and Rob took me down memory lane showcasing box after box of legendary cigars. Seriously, I was a kid in a candy store. Cigars from the 20’s , 30’s 40’s 50’s 60’s…..they just kept coming. However, I will remember the day not so much for the stunning cigars but for the recognition of JJFox’s position in the world of cigar history. They really are one of the few remaining gatekeepers to the historical past of Cuban cigars. They are also a beacon to the way forward in an industry which increasingly shuns its past. HSA executives should spend a week here and immerse themselves in a lesson on cigar history and culture.

I will tell you that I felt like the ultimate cigar novice in the presence of David and Rob. One of the great cigar days in my life. Let me give you a a tiny taste of what I experienced.




















After a brilliant afternoon the local Dublin lads and I caught up for dinner in a very good French Bistro before heading upstairs for cigars and drinks. What a seriously bloody great time as I caught up with old friends and made new ones. The Guinness flowed strongly and the cigar generosity amongst members immense. The Dublin cigar fraternity is passionate, growing and in good hands. They understand and live the mantra that cigars are about friendship, laughter, loyalty…”No tossers no wankers”.

Drunk on the camaraderie if not the Guinness, we decided to kick on late into the night and headed onto another bar/nightclub called “Copper Jacks” (from memory). This part of the night is a blur for all of us. I know I hit the sack sometime around 4am which when on tour is a rookie mistake …….and I appear bound to consistently repeat it.


There was no sleep in on the Thursday. Rob had organized a day sailing on Peters boat and somehow we made it near on-time. The only comfort I could resonate is that looking at Rob, Yiorgas, and Andy…they were all feeling as poorly as I was!

The days don’t come much better than this one. Great company, laughter, cigars and a rum/beer heartstarter. We cruised the water off Dublin in the sunshine. The peace and quiet of sailing an antidote to the antics of the night prior.

Peter is a great and patient captain. The rest of us were nigh useless but we pulled ropes as directed and took the wheel on occasion trying not to hit things ….such as rocks and lobster pots. We trolled for mackerel (our heart really wasn’t in it) but Rob Fox pulled the first massive fish. Later in the day we pulled enough of them for Peter to have a feed.

Just another great day in the emerald isle.

Capt Peter


Andy Ryan has no clue


Rob Fox is onto the Marlin


Yiorgos had to handle the fish. Peter was afraid to hurt them. Andy thought they were "icky"




Fox sought the refuge of a kip after the hangover got the better of him.


Returning from Sailing we changed and later caught up at Robs place for dinner. It was great to meet the wives/girlfriends of many of the lads. For such a bunch of misfits they have all scored remarkably well. The ladies were all gorgeous, charming and welcoming. There is something humbling about being welcomed into someone’s home. Meeting the kids, having a home cooked meal, the laughter and sharing of wine, conversation and friendship. I can’t thank Rob and his lovely wife Ooma enough.

What a remarkable 24 hours.

So today is my last day in Ireland. I will pop into JJFox later in the day and say goodbye to David and Rob. The rest of the day is meetings and I will feel a tinge of sadness when I hop on the Aer Lingus flight tomorrow morning.

Dublin has been an eye opening experience. I arrived in Dublin quite bitter after the release of the HSA deletions list and was questioning many aspects of the Industry and even my long term commitment to it.

Rob, Andy, Yiorgos, Harry, Dara, Ian, David have restored my faith. They and people like them are the heart and soul of what cigars are all about. They are a beacon HSA should sail a course toward.

Finally, in Rob and Stuart Fox, JJFox, Habanos s.a. have a living treasure they should support unreservedly. They are one of the last custodians of Habanos history but more than that, they are showing the way forward.

It has been a great trip and I leave richer, wiser and happier. I can’t thank you enough gentlemen.

See you from Toronto!

Rob Ayala

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Great pictures and report Rob. A huge pleasure catching up with you again, great fun showing you a bit of the city. Looking forward to the next time.

As for Copperface Jack's, I have about a 1 mile walk home from that place, on Tuesday night it was at least 3 miles, 2 of them sideways..

Have a safe trip to Toronto, looks like you'll be in capable hands over there..please give Hamlet our regards.

And you're right, it's not the cigars it's about having fun with friends and I've made more than I can count because of them.

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Amazing!! Wow!! Epic,and Life changing. What an incredible experience and Rob (no matter what us pricks say about you, lol) so generous on your part with your writing blow by blow sharing your incredible OS with us all. Truly Superb, beyond words. Well done Laddy, congratualations! Keep that wind in your sail and keep sailing. I think you are in for a Distinquished King's reception in Toronto, just wish I could be there to shake your hand.....hehe. Great Job, keep it up.

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Absolutly Epic stuff Rob. Glad to see the boys in ireland showed you a good time. See you in a couple of days. Cant Wait!

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Simply amazing Rob...thanks for sharing your experience with the FoH community through your pictures and prose.

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Such a pleasure to spend the last few days with you Rob - great company, great food, great cigars, and more booze than I care to remember! It's what the cigar scene should be about. Safe journeys to Toronto and be sure to pass this way again.

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