Scartaglin native Betty O’Connell realised a lifetime’s dream when she opened the doors of Kearney’s Bar on Castleisland’s Main Street this evening at 5pm.
Shoving on for 8pm tonight Betty reported that they’re flying since the doors opened. And she was delighted to report that she filled the first pint of stout for Michael Herlihy – a Scart man.
Apart from its significant place in the folklore and history of the town, Kearney’s holds a special place in Betty’s heart. It was here, as a 17-year-old, that she first stepped behind a bar counter and it was here she learned her trade.
Worked All Over
She has worked since in many other establishments such as: The Poets Inn; The Shoemaker’s; The River Island Hotel; Castleisland Rugby Club; The Brandon Hotel, The Gleneagle Hotel and Connie K’s – along with stints at Killarney, Tralee and Listowel Races and at festivals and Fleadhanna down throught the years.
Part of the folklore of the house – and it has been Kearney’s Bar since 1963 – is that is was originally owned by T.W. Wrenn – a name that will resonate with historians because of the photographic collection he left behind. His name can still be seen on photographs he took which survived and were published in various books.
However, many of his glass-plate images were lost to posterity unfortunately and we can only sigh at the loss.
The Castleisland Medium
During its time in the hands of the Wrenns, the photographers, bicycle shop, grocery and public house became famous as the birth-place of the Castleisland Medium or ‘Meejum’ as it’s pronounced locally.
The measure applied to stout only and was at the discretion of the woman or man at the pumps. That it was a talking point is beyond doubt – and it was also the cause of many an arguement. It was filled in a pint glass and the froth or head rested about the black of your nail from the rim.
It was the height or thickness of the head which most often caused the friction. “Take another sceilp off that Roman Collar,” the server would be told and so it went on.
Festivals lately have been hung on lesser pegs.
I presume the tradition was adopted in other places and I came across it in Castlebar in McHale’s lovely little pub there a few years ago. The Castle Island Meejum Festival – it has a ring to it.
Someone told me that the measure was all the go on the night of a budget when the price of the pint would go up and the Meejum was your only man for the Noonan of the day.
Her friends and relations from all over will be wishing Betty everything good for the future behind the bar at Kearney’s. Bouquets of flowers were dotted along the counter earlier as the final, frantic bits and pieces were being put in place for her dream opening.