Jack Doyle’s pub, a star attraction in Cobh, for sale

Chris Dunne chats to owner Ger Curley about his and his wife Catherine’s decision to retire after 15 years at the helm of the bar and eatery, a favourite with locals and tourists
Jack Doyle’s pub, a star attraction in Cobh, for sale

Owners Ger and Catherine Curley in Jack Doyle’s Bar in Cobh. They are selling after 15 years.

“We bought the pub in 2006 for €800,000,” Ger says. “In 2000, we bought the shop next door and the house. We developed the shop, which has an off-licence and post office. We added two apartments overhead that spread over 17 and 18 Midleton St.

“We are selling the two apartments and the shop as an investment property, guided at €595,000, while keeping the PO on. Catherine and I will keep that going part-time,” says Ger, who served in the navy from 1983 until 2004.

Good coffee, a tasty dish of haddock, and a cosy atmosphere made Jack Doyle’s bar feel like home. So what prompted Ger to sell the pub, which boasts a mural of Jack Doyle, the boxer, tenor and actor, and which attracted people from all over?

“My brother, Thomas, was the head chef and he got a new job,” says Ger. “And our manager, Luke Barry, handed in his notice.

“Thomas worked with a team of chefs that helped run the kitchen. It was a seven-day-a-week job and I did a lot of the administration, “ says Ger, who is dad to Thomas and Niamh.

“We found it hard to get staff.”

“We have a long-standing staff member, Geraldine Daly, who is here 12 years. Sinead O’Keeffe was here for 13 years, but she left the trade during Covid. It was challenging to keep staff during Covid and it still is.

“After Covid, we got used to having time off and we took stock of where we were at. Our son Thomas also has special needs and over 12 months, both Catherine and I experienced health problems. So, the time seemed right to sell up.”

Jack Doyle’s is priced at €375,000.

“The upkeep of the premises is ongoing and we keep on top of it,” says Ger.

“Three years ago, we upgraded the kitchen, spending €80,000 on the renovations. The premises, 200 square feet, is well laid out and it is a walk-in business.

“Once upon a time, a pub licence was in the region of €180,000,” says Ger.

“Now, you can buy one for €60,000.”

Jack Doyle’s attracted a lot of tourists. “The community was always very supportive,” says Ger. “We got a lot of business from the hotels and the B&B’s. They sent a lot of people our way.

“Lots of tourists from the liners popped in to see the mural of Jack Doyle and find out more about him. There were always conversations going on about Jack Doyle. I always enjoyed the banter and the craic with the visitors and they enjoyed the interaction and hearing local stories. Jack Doyle enticed the punters to come in.”

MEMORIES

Ger has great memories of his pub. “One of our local characters, now deceased, Jimmy Moroney, had great jokes and stories,” says Ger.

“Everyone enjoyed them. Joe Moran was another storyteller of note. John Ryan, a man in his 80s, used to come into us every single evening. His family would drop him off and collect him.

“We miss John, who died last year. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of old friends due to Covid. Covid changed the nature of drinking. Some people got used to staying at home.

Ger and Catherine Curley pictured outside their premises 'Jack Doyle's' Bar, Midleton Street, Cobh. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Ger and Catherine Curley pictured outside their premises 'Jack Doyle's' Bar, Midleton Street, Cobh. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“Covid changed our bar habits. Changes were on the way, but Covid speeded it up. Fortunately for us, we kept the food-delivery service going through the pandemic. We were only closed for one week. We always had a great reputation for good food.”

Jack Doyle’s was always a busy spot.

“There was always something happening,” says Ger.

“We catered for all age groups and for all occasions. We enjoyed hosting parties at the weekend and we were well known as a popular venue for the day after the wedding. The locals favoured coming into the bar at weekends and the tourist trade really began to pick up.

“This summer, the tourist trade really picked up.”

Jack Doyle’s is a sports bar and Ger sponsors Cobh Wanderers. “We’d be classed as a Liverpool supporters’ bar,” says Ger.

“We showed all the matches for the fans. Those weekends were always extra busy and there was always a great atmosphere when Liverpool were playing.”

Ger is a golfer and when he retires from the bar he’ll have more time for his hobby.

“I’m a sunshine golfer,” says Ger. “I like playing in the warm weather. I was lucky with our manager, Luke, who took over when I went golfing of a fine day.

“He looked after the bar when I stepped back in recent times. Hopefully, now, I’ll get out to play golf a bit more, now that I’ll have more free time away from the pub.”

Ger liked the lifestyle of being a pub governor.

“No two days were ever the same and it is a 24/7 business,” says Ger, “but we enjoyed it while we were working at it. We appreciate that all our customers stayed loyal to us through thick and thin.

“They are a great bunch. I have to say, we had great innings here over 15 years. Now, a new phase will begin in our lives.”

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