Cork publican: My role stretches to secretary, social worker and guidance counsellor!

It’s more than 20 years since Carmel Muir (nee Nyhan) purchased a bar in Bandon. CHRIS DUNNE catches up with her
Cork publican: My role stretches to secretary, social worker and guidance counsellor!

THE ECHO BAR SERIES FOR ELAINE 31/05/2022.

WHEN Carmel Muir (nee Nyhan) was at school she wanted to be a nurse. Then she started working in Coakley’s Hotel, Garretstown, in the summer of ’88 and she got the hospitality bug.

“I did my Leaving Cert in 1989 and I went to the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon and did their training Hotel Management Programme,” says Carmel, who bought her own pub in 2000, Nyhan’s, located in Bandon.

She features in The Bar Stool this week.

“I loved the variety of meeting up with people, working in the kitchen, etc, and I continued working in local bars and shops for a few years. The hospitality bug stuck.”

Carmel, intent on owning her own business, didn’t hang about.

“I was out walking with my sister Marie and saw a pub for sale,” she recalls.

Carmel outside the bar.
Carmel outside the bar.

“I bought the premises on Oliver Plunkett Street in October, 2000.

“The pub was in the Fulham family for many years and then changed hands a few times before I bought it,” says Carmel.

What did her husband, Andy Muir, think of his wife’s purchase?

“Andy works in pharmaceuticals and he travels quite a lot. He thought I was mad, but I went ahead.”

It was a done deal.

“I went to the owner and spoke to him and we did the deal. Andy saw us shaking hands when the deal was sealed.”

Carmel, Andy and their two boys, Mark and Conor, moved from their house in the country to live up over the bar.

Carmel Muir, owner, Nyhan's Bar, Bandon.
Carmel Muir, owner, Nyhan's Bar, Bandon.

Carmel, with her bar and hotel experience, was hands on from the start.

“Andy, when he wasn’t travelling, was more behind the scenes,” she says.

“We made a few changes when we renovated the bar. We got rid of the darts board and pool table and concentrated more on being a sports bar. Sky Sports was relatively new at the time and not many people had it at home. So people loved coming in to watch the matches and the golf. There is a strong golf society in Bandon.”

Carmel’s family rowed in.

“I come from a big family, I have loads of brothers and sisters. They all rowed in to help, they helped behind the bar and helped out with minding the boys, who were two and eight at the time. 

"My dad was a great help and I kept my maiden name over the bar.”

Carmel loved being behind the bar from day one.

“We had great characters coming in over the years,” she says. “Sadly, many of them have passed away.

“We had very busy nights, but my favourite time was always 5pm to 7pm when you could chat to the customers and hear their stories.”

Carmel went the extra mile for her customers too.

“I often helped out filling passport forms. I often thought I was a secretary, a social worker or a guidance counsellor! If we heard about a job going we’d pass on the information to someone else.

“Andy says the pub is more like a community centre where people drop in things or make enquires about a plumber, an electrician or a builder!”

Carmel was busy with the business and her two young boys and in July, 2019 she took a break from the pub trade.

“I felt I needed the break,” she says. “I was very busy. If the pandemic was around that time I wouldn’t have closed as it would have given me the break I needed. I closed Nyhan’s before the pandemic and took some time out to travel with Andy.”

Carmel’s heart was in her business though.

“I decided to give it a go again when we were allowed to open. I found I was bored when the pub was closed.

“We did more renovations during lockdown,” says Carmel. “I was glad of the break, but glad to be back.

Carmel Muir, owner, Nyhan's Bar, Bandon.
Carmel Muir, owner, Nyhan's Bar, Bandon.

“The former hand-ball alley is now our beautiful beer garden and part of the bar premises.

“The hand-ball alley was previously sold but we bought it back and now everyone loves the beer garden.

“We often have music nights which are very popular.

“We have pals who have a holiday home in Florida who are friendly with musicians and some of them travelled here to Bandon and they loved mixing with the community and entertaining them. They mixed with local musicians and they had a great time.”

Nyhan’s has a nook for everybody.

“We have an open fire and people find it homely to sit and have a drink beside it,” says Carmel.

She says the pub trade has changed over the years: “There are more events celebrated in the pub like birthdays, anniversaries, retirement or starting a new job. People celebrate new chapters in their lives.”

Nyhan’s is not just about drinking.

“It is more about the social side than drinking,” says Carmel. “The new age group coming up love the social side; they appreciate the experience.”

Is she glad she became a publican instead of a nurse?

“I love the trade and everything about it,” says Carmel.

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