2020: A Castleisland Publican’s Year to Date

Proprietor, Tom McCarthy pictured in The Central Bar – which was one of the first in the country to announce its closure on March 14th ahead of the government directive. ©Photograph: John Reidy

As the first of the local publicans to decide on closure due to the onset of the corona-virus earlier this year, and being born into the trade, Tom McCarthy of Castleisland’s Central Bar is in a better position than most to create a pen picture of the year 2020 to date and, indeed, beyond this week’s greatly anticipated ‘lock-down lifting’ announcement.

The following is Tom’s take on the year so far:

Since this time last year when news of a virus in China was starting to make ripples here, it was a source of jokes and video clips of bats and other creatures being cooked and eaten in ways that didn’t appeal to our tastes here in the west.

The jokes and reactions were comical and then a few months later in the New Year, they weren’t funny anymore.

It was in the country and we didn’t know what it was capable of.

From Ripple to Wave

The ripple was now a wave. It scared everyone and eventually came news that a lock-down was inevitable.

In Tom McCarthy’s Bar, here on Main Street, Castleisland, we took the decision to close up on the Saturday night, the 14th March, two days before the official lock-down. A very tough decision. Never in our history did we have to make such a call and it was not taken lightly.

We were told that it was for two weeks but as that two weeks went on it was obvious that this was going to be a long term closure.

A Serious Rug-pull

The stock was in for Cheltenham, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and everything in between. It was a serious rug-pull to every business.

Out came the paint brushes and out went the kegs, back onto the lorry that brought them.

New dates were given and we restocked, hopes up but back came the lorry and picked them all up again. And again.

Finally, after many false starts, we got going in September, we were a ‘wet’ pub and didn’t go down the €9 meal route, and although it took us and the customers a few days to acclimatise to the new ways, that’s exactly what happened.

Closed Again 15 Days Later

It ended again 15 days later when we got the order to close again.

The start/stop regime was very difficult as there is more to opening for business than turning a key in a lock.

It might seem strange but opening for Christmas is almost guaranteeing another lock-down in January.

If we are allowed to open for Christmas and can prove that Irish pubs are not contributing to the spread of the virus, we should be allowed to remain open unless cases hit a high number again. Outdoors in Ireland in December is no place to sit having a drink.

Reeling in the Years

This virus will run its course, like all viruses and we will look back on it in time probably on ‘Reeling in the Years’, which I’m fairly certain, I will turn off. I’ve seen enough.

We will be back and things will return to normal but the next time the jokes come in about bats I don’t think the laughing will be as loud.

Looking forward to everyone going back to their ‘corners and spots’ and the signals and the nods that a pint is due.” – Tom.

You can contact The Maine Valley Post on…Anyone in The Maine Valley Post catchment area who would like to send us news and captioned photographs for inclusion can send them to: jreidy@mainevalleypost.com

Queries about advertising and any other matters regarding The Maine Valley Post can also be sent to that address or just ring: 087 23 59 467.