Village pub in County Cork has artefacts from all over the world

The Rock bar in Cloyne is a new venture - but is steeped with lots of history, as CHRIS DUNNE finds out when she pays a visit
Village pub in County Cork has artefacts from all over the world

Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy, owners, and their son Robbie at The Rock, Cloyne. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THERE’S a new building on the block at Rock Street in Cloyne - and when you enter The Rock bar, you could imagine that you’re in a different world.

Seanie Costine and his partner, Kerri McCarthy, have created a modern, spacious pub with unique features around every corner.

“I never planned on owning a pub,” says Seanie, who also owns East Cork Cabs. The Rock is the latest pub to feature in The Bar Stool series.

“I am running the taxi business for 13 years now, but when the building, formerly Auntie Biddy’s, came up for sale and available to buy, I saw the potential.

“It planted the seed for the area. Covid arrived as I was in the process of buying the pub.”

Where did the name come from?

“My dad had a pub down the street called the Rock so I thought the name was good. Picking a name was the hardest.”

Kerri explains the terminology of the familiar terrain.

“The Irish for Cloyne is Cluain Uamha, which means meadow of the caves,” she says. “Cloyne is built on caves; there is Rock everywhere. Every time we went digging we hit rock!”

Kerri McCarthy, co-owner, The Rock, Cloyne.
Kerri McCarthy, co-owner, The Rock, Cloyne.

Seanie and Kerri got to work on The Rock.

“It started off as a small project,” says Seanie.

“The building was in bad repair, what was originally to be a renovation became a new build. There were only the four walls and a roof. 

"Myself and a group of friends gutted the place in November/December. It was a 15 month project. It is the safest building, reinforced with steel,” adds Seanie.

“We employed interior architect Donie Daly from Kerry who has designed pubs all over the world. His ideas are all in his head. He is a genius. We looked at stuff he had done in other places and we were impressed. Everything is hand-crafted.

“During Covid, we did a lot of research on the decor we’d like for the pub. 

"Donie salvaged stuff from all over the world; the big door leading into the occasion room is from Morocco, and another interior door is from Egypt. The seating is from Holland.

“We sourced a lot of artefacts from antique fairs and auctions, like the mirror in the ladies’ toilet from Kildare.”

Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy, owners, in The Rock, Cloyne. Picture Denis Minihane.
Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy, owners, in The Rock, Cloyne. Picture Denis Minihane.

Liam O’Rourke of Deck the Halls magically incorporated trees from the local woods to adorn the back of the booths near the occasion room. Paul of Sublime Landscaping worked his magic too in the outside area.

There’s a lot to interest for the punter at The Rock.

“There are a few mementos from previous owners on the wall,” says Seanie. “Tiles from Eileen Maher’s kitchen are in the hallway and both lobbies. There is a lot of history here.”

The booths are roomy yet cosy and there is a corner devoted to the late, great Christy Ring with photographs on the wall of the Cloyne man in action.

“It is great to see all families gathering together here,” says Seanie.

“You could have three generations all sitting comfortably together in a booth enjoying themselves.”

The Rock is a new venue for people to visit and enjoy the ambience and relaxed atmosphere.

“People who never came to Cloyne are coming now,” says Seanie. “Publicans from Cork came to see the bar.

The owners outside in the beer garden and terrace at The Rock, Cloyne. Picture Denis Minihane.
The owners outside in the beer garden and terrace at The Rock, Cloyne. Picture Denis Minihane.

“We have live music at the weekend and the beer garden is a great draw where people can gather and enjoy our bar food menu as well. We do takeaway food too.

“There are lots of bookings for the occasion room for parties. We are constantly developing. It keeps the mind active.”

Seanie and Kerri make a good team.

“We manage it ourselves,” says Kerri, who is mum to Robbie.

“While the building was under construction, I was in intensive care at 35 weeks pregnant,” adds Kerri, who is a secondary school teacher and from Kenmare.

Robbie was born on September 24.

“Opening a new business and having our little boy Robbie at the same time was challenging,” admits Kerri.

“But also immensely rewarding. It’s all about balance and it has made us stronger as a couple. We look forward to a very positive future.”

The Rock has given Cloyne a lift.

“The village needed a lift,” says Seanie.

“The people are so happy, they often say thank you to us!”

Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy, owners, and their son Robbie in The Rock, Cloyne.
Seanie Costine and Kerri McCarthy, owners, and their son Robbie in The Rock, Cloyne.

Aside from the cosy booths and the occasion room, sports features big at The Rock.

“We can have three different live matches on the TV at the same time,” says Seanie.

“And we have a big screen in the beer garden.”

Seanie and Kerri have embraced the business.

“There is a lot of hard work behind the scenes setting up and running a new business,” says Kerri. “Challenges are constantly popping up, but in saying that it can be very rewarding too. Hearing people laughing out loud and having a good time really makes it all worthwhile.

“Watching family and friends celebrating special occasions is so wonderful to see. Life is precious and we’re very fortunate people have chosen our premises to make these memories in.

“Meeting people and having a daily chat is also fantastic. The Rock is family friendly and it was our aim to make every age group feel comfortable here.

" Live music is paramount to ensuring success for our business and it brings life and normality to the local community and surrounding areas once again.

“We support local musicians as well as famous bands that play at the bar.”

Everyone gains.

“Providing employment locally is also a huge benefit to the local community,” says Kerri.

There is something for everyone at The Rock.

“Our outdoor space is unique for all types of events and occasions,” says Kerri.

“Sitting in the beer garden looking at Cloyne’s famous historical round tower is really breathtaking. It is a sun trap. Live matches can be viewed on our large outdoor screen. The retractable roof connected to our outdoor bar over the terrace allows for enjoyment in all kinds of weather. Offering bar food is a huge benefit to our business,” says Kerri.

“We can cater for all occasions. The occasion room can be privately booked out for all types of events including christenings, fund-raisers, work functions, after wedding parties, weddings, birthdays and all types of special occasions.

“Cocktails are also a speciality at the bar along with our barista coffee.”

The Rock is a welcome addition to Cloyne.

“It’s all good,” says Kerri.

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