Cork publican: It’s the only job I have ever known... I love it!

As she continues to feature bar owners across Cork, CHRIS DUNNE catches up with the owner of The Killumney Inn, Ovens
Cork publican: It’s the only job I have ever known... I love it!

Michael Sheahan at The Killumney Inn, ( Lounge, Bar, Restaurant), Killumney Co Cork. Picture: Larry Cummins

ONE of the things that Mike Sheehan likes about being the governor of The Killumney Inn in the village of Ovens is chatting with the tourists.

“I love talking to the foreign visitors that come here and finding out all about their countries and where they live,” says Mike, who features in The Bar Stool series.

“We have great chats swapping stories.”

He often spreads his wings too.

“I love taking off on my motorbike in the summer and heading off to Spain and Portugal,” says Mike.

“I’m not sure if there’ll be any holidays this year, now that we are up and running again and back in business after lockdown and since the restrictions were lifted. We are keeping very busy now which is great.

 Michael Sheahan at The Killumney Inn. Picture: Larry Cummins
Michael Sheahan at The Killumney Inn. Picture: Larry Cummins

“Staff shortages can pose a problem sometimes if we want to take time out. But we usually get a break.”

The Killumney Inn is a family run pub.

“It is a modern Irish bar,” says Mike. 

“I’d describe it as a gastro-pub. The pub is 40 years in the family and I took over the business from my mum and dad; it is the only job I ever knew and I always liked it."

Mike is married to Tessie, and the couple have a son, David, and a daughter, Michelle.

“They work full-time here too,” says Mike. “When Michelle returned from Australia, she slotted in here great. Now her two boys, Jack, aged five, and Sam, aged one and a half, are gearing up to be the next generation of publicans.

“They love going behind the bar helping to stack the bottles on the shelves. Like us, they like keeping busy too. They think it’s great fun!”

What did the Sheehans do when they weren’t busy in the gastro-pub?

“During lockdown, we re-varnished all the floors,” says Mike. 

 Michael Sheahan behind the counter at The Killumney Inn, which has been in his family for 40 years. Picture: Larry Cummins
Michael Sheahan behind the counter at The Killumney Inn, which has been in his family for 40 years. Picture: Larry Cummins

“We did a bit of a revamp on the place. We made a lovely awning out the back and some of the local ladies who are also our customers decorated the awning with lovely flowers. It looks really well now and is a beautiful created space for our customers now that we are facing into the summer months. It is a weather-friendly area. We hope everyone who drops in can enjoy it in the fine weather.”

The Killumney Inn is a foodie’s dream.

“We employ two full-time chefs,” says Mike. “William O’Connell and Michael Murphy are top-class and they create a varied menu every day; seven days a week.”

The duo caters for all tastes.

“They offer a variety of different dishes and roast dinners to cater for all tastes,” explains Mike.

“The kitchen is always buzzing and our customers appreciate the good food we serve up.”

 Michael Sheahan at The Killumney Inn, ( Lounge, Bar, Restaurant), Killumney Co Cork for the BAR STOOL feature for The Echo. Picture: Larry Cummins
Michael Sheahan at The Killumney Inn, ( Lounge, Bar, Restaurant), Killumney Co Cork for the BAR STOOL feature for The Echo. Picture: Larry Cummins

The bar is usually buzzing too.

“The bar and lounge have a relaxing atmosphere with great company,” says Mike.

“Twenty years ago, we built on a restaurant to hold 60 or 70 people, it is a larger area to cater for serving food. Food is served in the lounge and bar areas too.

“The chefs are kept on their toes. They are very good chefs. Our full-time bar person is Sally O’Mahony, she likes bar work and the social aspect of it,” says Mike.

“My wife Tessie works alongside me and she has huge energy and is a very hard worker. So I’m lucky there!”

As well as eating lunch or dinner at the Killumney Inn, people can catch up in the pub for a chat.

“People love meeting here and there is always a crowd in to watch the Irish matches and the rugby,” says Mike.

“We get a lot of ex-sports stars who played at junior level. The banter is always going strong!

“Our clientele changes every so often. Sometimes we have college students coming in to socialise but the age profile of our customers is typically from 30 upwards.”

Mike was a young fellow when he took over the business from his parents.

“It was a natural progression and today all my family work alongside me and that is great.”

What does he like about the pub business?

“I like the location. Killumney is a lovely village. It’s great to be trading here; it’s so nice here,” says Mike.

“I love meeting people and seeing new and old faces at the counter. There is always someone in here that enjoys having a chat. We are open seven days a week.

“I know some pubs opted to open four days a week when they re-opened. Here, people know they can get food and drink seven days a week.”

Does he mind the long hours that bar-work demands? “There’s no choice!” says Mike laughing. “It is a lifestyle at this stage so we just get on with it. The whole family are in it together and that helps a lot.”

Mike likes that he has kept it in the family.

“Years ago, many pubs were family run pubs, but not so much now. We are really happy that ours is an old-fashioned family run pub and that we all work so well together.”

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