TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known Cork publican whose quirky running of his bar has been described as “legendary”.
Brian O’Donnell, owner of the Hi-B bar on Oliver Plunkett Street, passed away early on Friday morning after a short illness.
He was known for banning the use of mobile phones in the pub and his unique approach to dealing with customers.
Lord Mayor John Sheehan described Mr O’Donnell’s passing as a loss to the city.
“He was iconic in Cork. He almost became a tourist attraction in himself. I remember bringing visitors over from America and we went for a drink in the bar. They were shocked when one took out their phone to check a restaurant reservation and they were brought to book and told to put it away.
“That was part of the charm. It wasn’t like a regular bar. It was a place where conversation was encouraged and he encouraged it in his own unique manner. It’s a loss for the city.”
Publican Philip Gillivan of the Shelbourne Bar said the city’s bar owners greatly admired Mr O’Connell.
“Brian was a legend. Speaking as a publican, I think a lot of us admired what he did and most of us wouldn’t have the balls to do it. He just did what he wanted and ran the bar the way he wanted to whether you liked it or not. The rules were his rules and there are very few characters like that left.
“A lot of the publicans in Cork will miss his ways and many were envious that we couldn’t do that in our own businesses and that’s the biggest compliment I could pay to him,” he added.
Michael O’Donovan, Cork city chairperson of the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland said Mr O’Donnell was different “in a good way”.
“The stories about him were legendary and the was one of the last traditional publicans in Cork. He was a great asset to the city and he was different, but different in a good way. People enjoyed his quirky ways.”
A statement on the bar’s Facebook page from Mr O’Donnell’s daughter Rachel said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of my father Brian O’Donnell at 12.30am Friday morning in the Mercy Hospital after a short illness.
“On behalf of the family we would like to thank the wonderful staff of both St Luke’s Home and the Mercy Hospital for the wonderful care that he received over the last number of years. Arrangements to follow. May he Rest In Peace.”
Funeral details are expected to follow later today.