With the Welcome Inn the last of Cork’s early houses, it’s fitting that it has on the wall a framed Holly Bough article entitled “A stroll around Cork’s 33 early morning pubs”. The article is by Jim McKeon, and it’s from 2009.
“In the mid-seventies Cork city was as intimate as any Irish village, yet it boasted 33 early morning pubs,” he writes. “They opened at 7am, six mornings a week, and each one, bulging at the seams, had its own unique identity and colour.” Most of the “exemption pubs” were close to the docks, but one, Con’s American Bar, on Princes Street, was in the city centre. From there, McKeon takes the reader on a journey to the city’s early houses as they were nearly half a century ago.
“First we’ll walk up George’s Quay to the Anchor, then on to the Beamish Brewery gates to Cotts and over to the Washington Inn and The Raven, and into the Coal Quay to Cliffords, the famous Roundy House, Cotts, O’Connors, Dennehys, Market Bar and across the river to The Haven. Then it’s a stroll to the ever-popular Ivyleary, The Oriental and Ferryboat Inn, around the corner to Ahernes, across the river again to The Port Bar, The Marina, The Buchaill and The Sextant on the docks.
“Facing the City Hall are four together: Heaphys, The Black Swan, Riverview and Donkeys Ears … “We cross the bridge at Parnell Place to Twomeys, the Welcome Inn, Ivy Leaf, Queens Bar on the corner, and the Travellers Rest next to the bus station...
“We cross the river again to the final cluster of pubs on Patrick’s Quay in the shadow of the Sorting office – Tuscar Bar, Travers, The Green Bough and The Innisfallen.
“Many of these pubs are no more, either gone out of business or demolished. Cork has moved on … The lanes are gone, the characters are gone, and I wonder if progress is really going backwards.”