01 Jul 2022

A toast to some great, departed pubs

Last orders

A toast to some great, departed pubs

There used to be a lot more pubs on the Main Street

There were pubs for different nights of the week. 

There were pubs for different times of the year. 

Crop rotation! It should have been hop rotation. 

The mercury would only need to rise by a couple of degrees and the landline in our hall would ring to a boil. 

And if the tall mirrors behind the old bar in the old Lawlors made arriving feel like some kind of event, then that's because it was. 

There were only a handful of times in any summer when it was agreeable to fall down in a pub, infuse your Guinness with vitamin D and not be kicked out. Compared with the old hands fixed permanently at the bar we were optimistic impostors who swam in when the climate warmed.

The summer Blur sung Parklife it felt like a dedication.

It’s hard not to think of these places when returning home and going for a pint. The choice has reduced and the gaps between the pit-stops has widened. 

So much that you notice the weather.

Back when weekends ran for four days there was The Wolfe Tone on a Thursday. 

It had yet to be reincarnated as Tones and reincarnated again as Graces. It was musty, dusty and poorly lit. So dim, that sometimes you’d have to check the black ball wasn’t the purple on the pool table in the lounge. 

And while the name has changed, it returned as a pub and not a three-storey bookshop with baristas rather than barmen.

I’ll never forget the parade towards the Millennium when the back of the Paddock was treated to a cream leather makeover. You remember the white suits Liverpool wore to the Cup final? Well, more than one empire was beginning to crumble.

One night someone asked for a pint of Guinness ... from Haydens. Everybody laughed but plenty felt like crying.

I never got to drink a pint in the Grandstand, or Marums, or McHughs but their signage always felt symbolic. It was Mount Rushmore in the shadow of the Moat.

My oldest link to drink was John Mulveys on the Main Street. 

It's a regret now that my underage incursions were more to do with trying to stand taller rather than sitting down. That came later.

Fancy drapes hang in the window of Mulveys now now but the best drapes in town always hung white, long and bride-like in the windows of The Forge.

I remember the Manor but it was more about food and horses. 

The Horse and Jockey on the Newbridge Road was the last jump on the edge of town and the Town House was somewhere my sister went to disco.

Before you got there you had to get past Kennedys, the right of passage for a generation. 

On one never to be forgotten CBS careers night a gang trooped down in dark oversized suits. It was the time of Reservoir Dogs. By the time the Guards arrived it felt more like Bugsy Malone.

The first night I drank in the Five Lamps Steve Collins was fighting Chris Eubank in Mill Street. It wasn’t a bad undercard to get things started. Afterwards the main event danced under the bright lights of south main street. 

When Pluck the Duck played the Lamps, the wood would bend and creak like an old Galleon battling High Seas. 

Somehow, the place survived the Collins’ storm too.

And why was it that a pint was five pence cheaper downstairs?

Fred Fortune used to run the door on the Attic and with a name like that I wondered if he ran everything else in town as well. 

There was a lot of steps to tumble down from the top and boy did you need your sea legs when you got to the bottom. Because while Fred could part crowds he could do nothing about the traffic passing fast around Murtagh's Corner. 

There was Dowlings/Sarah Floods, the Greyhound and the Moat and of course there was the Bauhaus where the barmen looked dead certs to win gold at the pub Olympics; where on the nights you didn’t pull - and there were plenty of them - the Slow Set arrived like a kick up the arse to set you on a frantic searching lap of the club. 

Jesus, when I think about it.

When the lights came on and the Anthem signalled work in the morning it felt like the Last Post not last orders.

That was sobering. 

A bit like the current landscape you might say.

Robert Mulhern is contracted to RTE's Doc On One programme 

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.