First Dates hopeful reveals he sat through dating show audition with burst gall bladder

Tom Maher (35), from Tyrrellspass Co Westmeath had to be rushed to hospital soon after

Tom finally got to go on a date with Regina

Regina (30)

Eugene MastersonSunday World

A love hopeful on TV’s First Dates reveals he was so determined to sit through his audition for the show that he suffered through the pain of his gall bladder bursting and had to be rushed to hospital soon after.

Tom Maher (35), from Tyrrellspass Co Westmeath, will also be seen on the next edition telling how he ran his own gay bar in London from the age of 23 which had among its clients Cilla Black, Graham Norton, Paul O’Grady and Brian Dowling.

“I ended up getting ill as my gall bladder burst during the audition in Dublin and I got poisoned,” he tells the Sunday World.

“I was there at that stage and I said I’d better do it now and that was it. The next day I ended up in the hospital in Tullamore, where I was in intensive care and had to have emergency surgery.

“It took me a long time to get right because I had pneumonia as well. So, the whole lot hit me at once and let me down.”

Tom gave up his job as a supplier of memorabilia and furniture to pubs so he could get his health back in order.

But once he recovered a few months later he filmed his date with Mayo woman Regina (30).

“We had a great chat, there was no pauses, conversation flew. She is a nice, decent person,” he stresses.

Tom’s longest relationship up to then was two-and-a-half years, when he was living in England after moving there at the age of 16 to work in the bar trade.

By the time he was 18 he was assistant manager in O’Grady’s pub in Seven Sisters and then he started in the business of supplying the likes of poker and quiz machines and pool tables to bars.

While supplying one pub in London, gay bar 79CXR, he became friends with its licencee who, after a while, asked him would he like to take it on instead.

Tom roped in a gay friend who was in the pub trade and some family and friends to help him out even though he was aged just 23.

“The next day we moved in and took over,” he recalls.

Regina (30)

The gay pub had many famous customers.

“Cilla Black, Paul O’Grady, Graham Norton, Brian Dowling used to come in. Half of them I wouldn’t recognise,” he laughs.

“I had a pub in Ilford at the same time, but there was a lot of conditions on the license and stuff like that. It ran out of steam after a couple of years and the place is now converted into a block of flats.”

Tom moved back to Ireland and ran a bar in Rochfortbridge for a time, before trying his hand at the pub memorabilia business. He’s now training to be a driver with Dublin Bus.

“With First Dates a friend of mine was on it. I suppose I was giving him a bit of slagging. He says to me ‘I bet you won’t go on it’. I said, ‘I’ll go on it’. He made the phone call and the next thing I got a call back and I said, ‘I might as well’.”

  • First Dates continues Thursdays on RTÉ2 at 9.30pm and is on the RTÉ Player.

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