Cork wet pubs reopening ‘like the first day at school’

Cork wet pubs reopening ‘like the first day at school’

Publican Mary O’Neill and her son Brian ready to welcome their first customers back to the Tap Tavern in Kinsale, Cork, last evening. Mary O’Neill is the only locally born publican left in the town. Picture Dan Linehan

PUBLICANS of 'wet pubs' across Cork were allowed to welcome back customers the first time since Covid-19 forced their closure back in March.

Regulars visited their locals for a pint of the cold stuff and the Murphy’s and Beamish taps were flowing again after over five months out of use.

On what is the fourth date that publicans have been given to reopen, some publicans were hesitant to order a large amount of stock as a precaution.

Cork City Chairman of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and owner of The Castle Inn in the city centre, Michael O’Donovan, said that he ordered stock levels for what would be a quiet week and will gauge the amount of stock required over the coming weeks.

Mr O’Donovan was welcomed with car horns and well wishes when rolling in the kegs in preparation for reopening on Monday morning at 10.30am.

 Publican Steven hackett and bar manager Glen Kenny ready for action at Nana’s Bar on Douglas Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Publican Steven hackett and bar manager Glen Kenny ready for action at Nana’s Bar on Douglas Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

About half a dozen regulars were welcomed back through the doors with some popping in to simply wish Mr O’Donovan all the best.

Mr O’Donovan said that it was “peace of mind” to be able to reopen and trade again after 190 days of closure having shut its doors on March 14.

With a capacity of 32 people, the pub has implemented a strict table service policy where people are only permitted to leave their table to use the toilet or upon departure during which masks must be worn.

“You can still talk to people at other tables you just can't go over to the other table, you have to remain seated and that’s different because in a traditional Irish bar people go over and strike up a conversation so it’s going to be a bit of getting used to but I’m sure the public will be able to follow the guidance we give them over the next few weeks when they come in,” he said.

 Publican Mary O’Neill and her son Brian ready to welcome their first customers back to the Tap Tavern in Kinsale, Cork, last evening. Mary O’Neill is the only locally born publican left in the town. Picture Dan Linehan
Publican Mary O’Neill and her son Brian ready to welcome their first customers back to the Tap Tavern in Kinsale, Cork, last evening. Mary O’Neill is the only locally born publican left in the town. Picture Dan Linehan

He said that leaving home at 7.30am on Monday morning he felt nervous because it was “like the first day of school or the first day of a new job” but that one he started rolling in the kegs and welcoming customers that it was “fantastic to be back”.

“Now we have to just get on with it and work with the public on it and see how it goes for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Owner of The Tap Tavern in Kinsale Brian O’Neill who reopened his doors at 5pm on Monday said “it was time to reopen and get a bit of normality back”.

Mr O’Neill who has received many well wishes from locals said he was delighted to be welcoming back his customers who have been “very supportive”.

“One guy who's working abroad at the moment has sent us emails to say good luck. It makes you realise we’re not doing it alone and know there’s people behind us,” he said.

 Shane Nolan and Silvia Mossenta enjoying an early morning pint at the Castle Inn, Cork. Picture Dan Lienhan
Shane Nolan and Silvia Mossenta enjoying an early morning pint at the Castle Inn, Cork. Picture Dan Lienhan

The pub can seat 20 people at any given time but Mr O’Neill said that capacity will be reduced if for instance two people sit at a table for six and that he will refuse people if needs be as “it has to be done”.

“We’re still in a better position than what we were in last week,” he said.

Chairs have been taken away from the bar counter, customers must sit at their tables once seated, hand sanitizing stations are located at the front, back and side doors, and the backyard area is laid out so that there is the required distance between people.

Owner of Nana’s pub on Douglas Street Steven Hackett opened his doors on Monday afternoon to “a good crowd”.

Mr Hackett opened the doors at 4pm and was welcoming customers from 4.05pm onwards.

 Ready for his pint is Donal Leahy at Nana’s Bar on Douglas Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Ready for his pint is Donal Leahy at Nana’s Bar on Douglas Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

He said reopening was “like starting all over again” and that he was nervous but also delighted to be returning to “some bit of normality”.

The bar which is named after Mr Hackett’s grandmother Maura Hallinan, has the capacity to seat 73 people in total with social distancing guidelines in place.

Mr Hackett has been busy preparing the pub and said that although stock was nowhere near the level of what it was previous to lockdown, that he still got “a decent amount” as not to be running out on a busy day.

“It’s great to be back to some bit of normality. We’ll have to drive on now and follow whatever the rules are going forward and take it from there,” he said.

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