The Barstool: Warm welcome awaits at The Wagon Tavern

The Wagon Tavern closed during Covid, but is now back up and running and enjoying a busy summer, writes CHRIS DUNNE
The Barstool: Warm welcome awaits at The Wagon Tavern

Tom Aherne, owner of The Wagon Tavern, Fermoy. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THE Wagon Tavern is currently in its 16th year of trading, as it opened its doors on December 13, 2006.

Owner Tom Aherne is very proud of his premises on 27/28, Cork Road, Fermoy.

“I am the proprietor of The Wagon Tavern and work full-time in this business,” he says.

“ We are a family-run pub, therefore we have family members employed, like my sister-in-law, Christina, who assists me in the management during the week.”

Tom enjoys some perks with the job.

“Other family members help on occasions without payment. We are a very close family, and we all work together whenever any issue arises, and work needs to get done.

“We have been very fortunate to have great employees and employ eight local employees who have been loyal to us over all our years of trading.

“Without the help and support of the employees, especially during Covid-19, we would have found it extremely difficult to continue trading,” says Tom.

Like most pubs, The Wagon Tavern has its share of characters.

“There are too many characters to mention personally as we have several characters who enter our premises and brighten up our day,” says Tom.

“The support that we have received all over the years from our loyal customers will never be repaid. It is the customers who keep the business going. We have characters that come early to the pub, and we have characters that arrive in the evening. It’s fair to say too many to mention by name, but at any time that you come to The Wagon Tavern, you will always find a character of some sort that will brighten up your day.”

Tom welcomes all age groups.

“Our customers range are from late teens, early twenties to late seventies, and each will have their own knowledge to pass on.

“We believe that full trading hours is required to keep the routine for our locals, who enjoy a pint or two at the end of each day. We open at 10.30am and close at 12.30am, Monday to Saturday, and open at 12.30pm on Sunday.”

How does business vary from day to day?

Tom Aherne in The Wagon Tavern, Fermoy. Picture Denis Minihane.
Tom Aherne in The Wagon Tavern, Fermoy. Picture Denis Minihane.

“These days, with dealing with the public, business varies every day, and no day is the same,” says Tom.

“That is the great advantage of working in a pub, you never get bored as it is great to see different faces at different stages throughout the day.

“There is always work to do in the pub, as it is never-ending, and we take pride in the upkeep of our premises as we continuously endeavour to keep the safety of our patrons and staff our priority and maintain the premises constantly.”

You can get fed and watered at the Wagon Tavern.

“We provide light finger food as in soup/sandwiches daily, but do not have a full bar food menu available,” says Tom.

“We are not able to provide a full bar menu as work would have to be undertaken in the kitchen and surrounding areas to adhere to the HSE rules and guidelines that would have to be implemented. The additional costs of this work are not possible at this stage to undertake.”

Tom likes to be in control in all aspects of his pub.

“This would be a major undertaking, as I believe that the owner of the premises should at all times be in control of all aspects of their business, including the food.”

There is always something happening at the Wagon Tavern.

“We are very fortunate to hold many functions including christenings, holy communions, funerals, and birthday parties,” says Tom.

“Throughout the year, we would have bands playing and DJ’s playing at various occasions as requested by the customers. We were also very fortunate and honoured over the years to be able to hold five wedding receptions.

“The pub has the capacity to hold these big functions, and with the help from the staff and family members.”

A great effort is put in for all celebrations.

“We go all out on the set-up to make the day as special as possible for all concerned,” says Tom.

“Other great nights held at the pub were the snooker and pool exhibitions, with the attendance of Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan. The darts events were attended by Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle and Peter ‘One Dart’ O’Sullivan.”

Tom likes being his own boss.

Tom Aherne outside the The Wagon Tavern, Fermoy. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Tom Aherne outside the The Wagon Tavern, Fermoy. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“I like the aspect of being my own boss, but it has its challenges when it comes to running your own business, and with the pub you are always tied to it 24/7.

“Holidays must be planned in advance and all issues are on your shoulders to sort. As an employer, you have responsibilities to your staff and customers, because without them, the business would not succeed.”

How did Covid affect Tom’s business?

“Covid was a very difficult time for a lot of businesses, and we are only now getting back on our feet and looking forward to a better future in the pub.”

Tom closed up shop during Covid.

“We stayed closed during the pandemic for the safety of our customers and staff, as we could have opened with the food element and the outside area, but decided to stay closed until it was safe to open with Government guidelines,” he says.

“We benefited from accessing grants from our Local Authority, for which we were extremely grateful as this was a saviour to us at this time for our business. The enhancement that was undertaken with receiving these grants, benefiting the business with enhancing the beer garden, new outside lighting and trees/plants, gave the premises a more welcome environment and kept in line with the Tidy Towns mission of making Fermoy a more attractive place to visit.”

The Wagon Tavern changed with the times.

“The pub culture has changed significantly since we opened in 2006. As previously stated, our customers range from all age group.

“We try to facilitate all age groups with different needs.

“We provide all relevant sports channels to the eager customer for their entertainment and provide a quiet corner for the patrons who are just looking for a quite pint.

“We welcome everybody and are looking forward to a great summer.”

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