An Irishwoman’s Diary on how Minecraft heroes bridged the Atlantic

‘I heard Irish accents coming from our iPad’

Scott Fitzsimons, Simon Barrett, Max Mital and Ryan Fitzsimons

Scott Fitzsimons, Simon Barrett, Max Mital and Ryan Fitzsimons

 

With the help of two young men, a little Irish luck and good timing, I was able to make a trip to Dublin extra special for my 9-year-old son Max. A number of months ago, my son Max was in the living room in our home in Montreal and I heard Irish accents coming from our iPad. Every few minutes, Max would burst into fits of laughter. Curious, I asked him what he was listening to and he said: “It’s these twins from Ireland who upload videos of themselves playing Minecraft and they are hilarious. Oh, and by the way, Mom, it is appropriate for my age; they don’t swear or anything. They know a lot of kids follow them on YouTube.”

For the next couple of weeks, these voices became background noise in our house. One day, I came up with a wild idea that I hoped I could pull off. We would be going to Ireland on holiday and I decided to get in touch with the twins to find out if they would meet Max. I thought they might make the time when I told them what our family had been through these past couple of years. I logged onto their YouTube account and sent them a note.

“Hi lads, I’m a Canadian who used to live in Dublin and I’m heading over with my 9-year-old son to see friends and family in a couple of weeks. My son lost his father to pancreatic cancer seven months ago; it has been a very difficult two years for us with my husband battling this horrible disease. Max is obsessed with you guys and is always watching your Minecraft videos. I was wondering if you could take 20 minutes to meet him when we are over – I could bring him to you to make it easy. I know it would make him very happy. Let me know. Thanks.”

Days passed and I got no response; one week, two weeks . . . nothing. But I wasn’t surprised – these identical 24-year-old twins, originally from Co Meath, are wildly successful and have hit the big leagues in this new world of gaming where people make videos and get money from companies that advertise on their YouTube channels.

The LittleLizardGaming channel, run by Ryan and Scott Fitzsimons, has more than a million and a half subscribers and get in the tens of thousands of visits with every new video they upload. All of this success has come in less than three short years.

A few days before leaving, I decided to resend the message and also wrote: “Sorry to bother you again, I just thought I would send this one more time in case you didn’t get it.”

About an hour later, I heard “ping” coming from my iPhone.

When I glanced at the screen, I saw the LittleLizard icon. My heart started racing as I read their response: “We didn’t see the first message and, yes, we would be more than happy to meet Max.”

I didn’t care how far around Ireland I would have to travel to bring Max to meet them but, as it turned out, they lived 10 minutes from where I was staying.

They told me to “bring Max to the house, we will show him where we record the videos and we will play Minecraft with him”.

I decided to make it a surprise for Max so I told him we were going to visit a childhood friend. As we got out of the car with his young Irish friend Simon in tow, he looked around in awe at the massive, detached homes and said: “Wow, your friend must be rich – is this where all the rich people live in Dublin?”

I glanced over at their house and saw that the huge electric double gates had been opened and the front door was ajar. A tall, young man walked down the stairs towards us as we approached.

Max was a few feet behind me so I quickened my pace, shook his hand and introduced myself. When Max caught up, he nonchalantly said hi. Then I asked Max if he recognised him.

After about 30 seconds, all the blood seemed to drain from his little face and his jaw dropped as he slowly came to realize who might be standing in front of him. “Are you Ryan or Scott?” he asked hesitantly. “Yup, I’m Ryan,” was the answer.

Ryan shook Max’s hand and asked him if he would like to come inside and see where they record the videos. All Max could muster was “sure”. Soon after, Scott came back from the gym and joined them. I spent some time talking to their mother, who said she is so proud of everything her boys have accomplished and of the type of young men they’ve become. “They do a lot of things like this that people don’t know about,” she said.

The twins gave us a tour of the 8,000 square-foot house; complete with indoor swimming pool, bar, sauna room, changing room, jacuzzi, games room, and a cinema room with built-in recliners. I glanced at the mom and asked quietly, “All of this is because of gaming?” She had a huge smile on her face and nodded.

Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we chatted for another five minutes, took some photos and then said our goodbyes. Max was grinning from ear to ear and as we walked away, he said: “Well, now that was a surprise.” And for the rest of the day, he kept muttering: “I can’t believe I met Ryan and Scott. I can’t believe I met Ryan and Scott.”

About a week after we got home, I heard Max yelling for me in excitement. Max flashed the iPad screen at me and there, on Scott and Ryan’s Instagram page, was a photo of him with the twins with a caption: “It was cool meeting Max and Simon.”

Way to make a young boy happy lads and a memorable trip to Ireland.