The Bar Stool: I recall when you got four pints for a fiver!

As we continue our series, The Bar Stool, on Cork’s pubs, CHRIS DUNNE pays a visit to Annie Mac’s, on the Bandon Road
The Bar Stool: I recall when you got four pints for a fiver!

Michael Coffey outside the family bar, Annie Mac's, in Denroches Cross, Bandon Road, Cork.

LONG before John and Laura Coffey purchased Annie Macs, at 27, Bandon Road, in Denroches Cross, two old ladies occupied the premises.

“One of them was called Annie and the other lady was McCarthy,” says Michael Coffey who now runs the cosy pub, explaining its name.

“My mother lives upstairs,” adds Michael. “She still keeps an eye on things and oversees things here in the bar. She comes down to the bar every night. She likes to keep an eye on the place!

“My daughter Zara is in school but she’s good to help out every now and again. My dad, John, passed away seven years ago.”

Michael is an old hand behind the bar.

“I worked here since I was 18 or 19, after finishing school it was a natural progression. My dad was in the guards.”

Michael liked the atmosphere in Annie Mac’s.

“I thought it was great fun and I got to know a load of regulars and we had lots of older customers we were fond of. It was always very busy up until Covid hit. Sadly, a lot of our elderly customers are no longer with us.”

Michael spread his wings in 1995. “I travelled to the USA and I worked in San Francisco.”

His bar-tending work held him in good stead.

“I did a cheffing course in MUT before I went to the States,” says Michael.

“i went to work in The Blarney Stone ,which had more Irish than American customers coming in.

“I remember cooking for American football teams. It was a great spot and very busy. I worked in that bar for three years. I came back in December, 1998, and I worked here in Annie Macs with my parents.”

Anne Macs was a family affair.

Laura Coffey and her son Michael in their family bar, Annie Mac's, Denroches Cross, Bandon Road, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Laura Coffey and her son Michael in their family bar, Annie Mac's, Denroches Cross, Bandon Road, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“We worked together side-by-side,” says Michael.

“It was always very sociable in here. We loved mixing with all the customers. We made pals with them all.

“We had a good golf society and we travelled to Spain and elsewhere abroad. They were great trips.”

Times are different now.

“Some of our customers haven’t returned since Covid,” says Michael.

“They haven’t come out since the pandemic and we miss them.”

There were great times had at Annie Mac’s.

“We had regular music sessions before Covid,” recalls Michael.

“On a Wednesday and Sunday night, Jack Briely played here for years.

“The Gillbillies played sessions here for free, and they got a few pints!

“We hope to start the music back again soon. We used to have a poker night on Mondays and Don card games on Saturdays. We’re looking forward to running them again.”

It’s looking like business will be brisk again in Annie Macs.

“The building next door is opening up in September for student accommodation,” says Michael.

“So that will be good. We’ve always welcomed students here and we enjoy the buzz of RAG week.”

Who else frequents Annie Mac’s?

“Like all pubs we have our much loved characters,” says Michael.

“One gentleman, George, is nicknamed duck legs. He comes in on Saturday and when people come up to the bar; he takes their seat!”

He also makes himself useful.

“He does the three B’s,” says Michael. “The bottles, the bog and the banna! He is like our very own pot man!”

What does Michael like about working behind the bar of the family pub?

“I like the sociability,” he says. “I don’t drink myself, but I enjoy the cráic. I have met people that I’d never have met through working in the bar.

“Since I came home from the USA in 1998, the pub life has become a way of life for me. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Does Michael have help in the bar?

“Jim is our barman; I do mostly days. I live in Frankfield I so don’t have far to commute. “

Michael is optimistic the pub trade will continue to flourish.

“It is a meeting place for people,” he says.

Laura Coffey and her son Michael in the beer garden at their family bar, Annie Mac's, Denroches Cross, Bandon Road, Cork.
Laura Coffey and her son Michael in the beer garden at their family bar, Annie Mac's, Denroches Cross, Bandon Road, Cork.

“I look forward to the lads coming in for a few pints when I open up and after work in the evenings.

“It would be such a pity to see the pub trade go into decline. It would be a huge loss for people.”

There used to be a lot more pubs on the Bandon Road.

“At one stage there were 25 to 30 pubs,” says Michael. “Some of them are still going strong.”

Annie Mac’s is still going strong.

“At one time we were the biggest sellers of Beamish,” says Micahel.

“We used to go through 28 kegs a week at one stage.”

Michael recalls the price of four pints back in the day.

“It was $1.25 a pint. You could get four pints for a fiver when we moved in here. This pub is over 100 years old.”

Michael is clearly a man who gets great job satisfaction at Annie Mac’s.

“I’m happy out here,” he says.

“We have a lovely beer garden out the back and we’re looking forward to people enjoying the open space in the summer months.”

Michael values his customers.

“We have photographs of a lot of our customers on the wall - it’s a nice touch.

“ Annie Mac’s is a nice bar with a homely touch - it’s a great spot for a tipple!”

You can catch up on The Bar Stool series online at EchoLive.ie

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