Cork bar is renowned for its music sessions and friendly welcome

CHRIS DUNNE visits The Blackbird in Ballycotton as part of her series on Cork’s pubs, and finds out about its special atmosphere
Cork bar is renowned for its music sessions and friendly welcome

Mossie Tattan outside the family bar, Blackbird, Ballycotton. Picture Denis Minihane.

IF you happen to go into The Blackbird in Ballycotton for a drink or a bite of food, you are more than likely to bump into Maurice and his faithful companion, Max - or you might see the dancer, Davy, strutting his stuff, doing the Davy shuffle!

“We have a picture of Maurice and his dog Max behind the bar,” says Mossie Tattan, who runs The Blackbird. He features in The Bar Stool feature series this week.

“We are very people-friendly and very dog-friendly,.

“In the picture, Maurice is having a coffee and there is a pint in front of Max!

“We call Davy ‘Davy shuffle’ because he takes off on the floor whenever there’s music! We have great characters coming into the bar,” adds Mossie.

“And Ozzie is always relied upon to observe everything! He takes it all in.”

You might even bump into a celebrity at The Blackbird.

Mossie Tattan said whoever built the building, built the atmosphere into the walls.
Mossie Tattan said whoever built the building, built the atmosphere into the walls.

“Gabriel Byrne called in and Vanessa Feltz is often in here,” says Mossie.

“Rachel Allen and the cookery school gang are regulars. We cater for everyone, young and old; all ages. There is always a mighty buzz in here.

“Whoever built the building built the atmosphere into the walls. People feel it when they come in. They just love it.

“You often get the same people sitting in the same seats on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the music.”

There was mighty music when The Blackbird celebrated its 10th birthday on April 1, when Gina and the Champions did the honours for the party.

“It was a great night,” says Mossie.

“We couldn’t celebrate mid-Covid so we went all out when things got back to normal.”

Mossie Tattan sayd they are very people-friendly at the family bar, Blackbird, Ballycotton- but also pet-friendly. Picture Denis Minihane.
Mossie Tattan sayd they are very people-friendly at the family bar, Blackbird, Ballycotton- but also pet-friendly. Picture Denis Minihane.

The Blackbird marked a decade in business in style.

“We had a Jameson reception,” says Mossie.

“We didn’t announce the band or else we’d be inundated. Gina is brilliant. She never lost it.”

Mossie’s two older brothers, John and Michael, purchased The Blackbird in 2010.

Mossie was the right man in the right place.

“They asked me if I’d run the bar as I have a history of organising bands for nightclubs. 

"The Blackbird opened in December, 2011, as a bar that included a music room. There was a small beer garden out the back which has since been renovated.

“John and Michael did the mental and physical work while I took on the everyday running of the bar.

“We opened as a music bar with music two nights a week, 52 weeks of the year. We’ve had brilliant artists play here like Liam Reilly of Bagatelle, Gina, of course, Kudos, Mundi, Glen Hansard and Freddie White. Local artists include Duffy’s Cut, Caroline Sweeney band, and Craig and Gráinne.”

The Blackbird is renowned for its popular music sessions.

“My nephew, Chris Tattan, has just released a new album with the support of Cillian, one of our bar staff,” says Mossie.

The Blackbird is a real Cork pub.

“We stock a lot of Jameson products,” says Mossie.

“And we sell a lot of Murphy brewery products.”

The building dates back to the 1820s.

“We kept the character as much as possible,” says Mossie.

“The original stone is still in place.

“And the men’s urinals are made out of Heineken barrels,” he laughs.

Mossie Tattan behind the bar.
Mossie Tattan behind the bar.

“There was an old post office and shop where the Ruin room is now. The Ruin room is a great venue for after wedding parties and other special occasions. We get a lot of day-after weddings from the local hotels, Barnabrow, Castlemartyr, Garryvoe, Ballymaloe and the Bay View,” says Mossie. “The day- after weddings make up a lot of our business.”

Ballycotton is a stand-out feature on the east Cork map.

“Ballycotton used to be a very well kept secret and it is very much a go-to destination now. It has really grown in the last few years.”

The Blackbird has expanded over the last few years.

“We are always up-grading,” says Mossie.

“In May, 2011, we introduced the Field Kitchen, which really took off. It’s run by Adrian and Lisa Gallen. They don’t use any processed food. All the meat, fish and vegetables they use are sourced locally,” says Mossie.

“After doing the cliff walk, a good pint and good fish and chips really go down well!”

You can be fed and watered and also entertained at the Blackbird.

“We run a folk club on the third Thursday of every month,” says Mossie.

“Musicians from all over east Cork come and play a tune and have a sing-song. The sessions are great.”

What does Mossie like about the pub business?

“I like meeting people,” he says.

“They feel at ease in the bar and love the chat and the banter. It is a way of life for me 24/7.

“We get people from Galway, Dublin, Kerry and Waterford in to see the matches and we have a right banter with them. It’s good fun.

“You never know what to expect, it can be so different at times. When someone walks through the door, nobody turns round to see who came in; it could be anybody. In here, it is so diverse.

“You can have a busy pint or a quiet pint, or you can relax with a coffee. We have good music, good pints and good food.

“People love the cráic, they love their sport and they love a sing-song. The Blackbird has all this for locals and for tourists. We have a tourist presence all year round.

“We are really lucky with our staff, people comment on how polite they are. We have a new manager on board now, Jim Phepps, from Ballycroneen, who worked in London. He fits right in here. We couldn’t operate without good staff. They are friendly and obliging, we have 8 to 10 staff at any given time.”

There is a plus one.

“Rumour has it there is a very old spirit on the shelves,” says Mossie.

“It is an extra spirit that nobody ever drinks!”

The Blackbird, perched in the charming village of Ballycotton, is a great venue to drop in for a pint and a bite of seafood or for a good session.

“People come to Ballycotton to do the cliff walk and take in the sea air,” says Mossie.

“They can make day out of it. They can have their supper here and stay on for a good music session. What’s not to like?”

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