THE pint, the craic, the warm glow of bonhomie, and the banter.
It’s fair to say many of us have missed out on the joys of ‘a swift one’ since the pandemic began.
Although pubs serving food have reopened, many others have had to remain closed over fears about social distancing.
Among those who has missed out is Billy Murphy, a builder for 30 years from Macroom.
“I love a pint,” say Billy. “Having the chat and the cráic in the local pub is part of Irish life.
“Now nobody can go to the pub through no fault of the publicans, but because of Covid-19.
“Lots of older people living on their own miss the company in the pub.
“People finishing work on a Friday evening have missed meeting a pal and relaxing for an hour or two over a pint in the last five months.”
However, Billy and fellow Macroom man, Donal Mulcahy have come up with an ingenious solution as an alternative to your favourite snug or comfy bar-stool.
Their SnugPub can be erected in your own back yard to recreate the feel of a pub in your own home.
“It is up to yourself how you operate your own local in your own home,” says Donal. “Obviously, people will be responsible following social-distancing guide-lines.”
Donal, an insurance broker, says you can stock bottles of beer, lager or draft beer and stout in the SnugPub.
“Or indeed you can stock any drink of your choice,” adds Donal.
“Stocking the SnugPub situated in your home, in the garden, is entirely up to you. We can fit draft beer dispensers, optics, lights, and roller blinds too if you want when we come to erect the unit.
“The design of the SnugPub is an individual choice, unique to you.”
The thought of an alfresco tipple would whet anyone’s appetite on a fine summer’s day.
Current guidelines state social visits to people’s homes should be limited to a maximum of 10 visitors — from no more than four other households.
It takes two to build a shed. How did Donal and Billy come up with this pint-sized pub notion?
“My wife Susan and I entertain a lot at home,” says Donal. “We love having friends around.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic and the sudden spell of sunny weather, I thought of the idea and how blissful it would be to have your very own garden bar open any time in the comfort of your own home, especially while not being able to head down to your local for a drink.”
He drafted in an old mate.
“The other partner, Billy, is a builder from Codrum,” says Donal.
The men go back a long way.
“Billy and myself go back years. In fact both our fathers worked closely together on lots of projects in the past.”
Two heads are better than one.
“There was nobody else doing them in Ireland,” says Donal, who is dad to Amy 10, Sophie, 8 and Molly 6. The girls have a step-brother, Jordan Coghlan, who is a professional rugby player for Leicester Tiger, and he is also a former Irish U20 Leinster and Munster rugby player.
Donal adds; “I approached Billy and I explained my idea to him and from there the SnugPub was born.”
The pair went on their merry way, beginning a start-up business to deliver the man-cave of their dreams.
“The SnugPub brand is all about a high-quality product using the finest weather-treated timber and quality workmanship,” says Donal.
“And we simultaneously provide an impeccable service that we pride ourselves on without compromising on quality. This will stand to us going forward.”
Donal and Billy can also provide the bells and whistles in the SnugPub, which is like a timber shed only slightly different.
“It is the same basic idea,” says Donal.
The SnugPub is much more appealing than the shed, where the garden tools and the lawn mower live!
“We offer all the extras you could dream of for your very own pub, from draught beer, lager and stout, bottle fridges, roller shutters to secure your investment, traditional beer lanterns, and outdoor sound systems.”
What about social distancing when there are a few people round?
“Well, there is only one person behind the bar and the seating arrangement in the garden can be set up following the social distancing guidelines,” says Donal.
Would it take long to have a Snugpub installed?
“We can have it built in two days,” says Donal.
“The basic unit, 8 foot by 5 foot, is €995. We come and fit it out at your home usually within two-weeks of order confirmation. Add-ons like taps, lights, etc, are extra.”
The SnugPubs are flying out the door.
“We have built and sold 30 so far. Orders are flying in,” says Donal.
“People are ordering from all over Munster and Leinster. Half our orders are coming from Dublin.
“We also offer a discount to VFI members if they want a SnugPub on their premises, if it were to assist them with social distancing for their customers.”
Having a local, home-from-home pub in your own backyard is worth toasting.
“The idea of a small local pub on the patio or in the back garden has really taken off,” says Donal.
“The SnugPub is a nice attractive addition to anyone’s home. The interest in them is massive. We never expected it.”
Donal and Billy need more bar staff.
“The demand for the SnugPub is getting so big, we have to take someone on,” says Donal.
“We plan to move our operation to new commercial premises shortly and we’ll have to increase our workforce even more.”
It is a nice little earner.
“There are a lot of fans out there, especially since the pubs closed,” says Donal.
Donal and Billy are drunk with success.
“Since SnugPub has been set up, we’ve had the pleasure of delivering a bit of joy all over Ireland, making people’s homes extra special and the perfect entertaining space.
“The SnugPub is snug enough to fit anywhere and more affordable than you think.”