Kearney’s Bar Refugees Hoping for New Beginnings for Old Habits

Part of the guard of honour for the funeral of the late Betty O’Connell made up of customers and friends with Kearney’s Bar in the background. Included are: Connie Murphy, (left) with: Jonathan Callaghan, Teresa Reidy, Gabrielle O’Brien, Thomas O’Sullivan, Mary Flynn, Sophie O’Connor, Stephen Courtney, Rachel, Timmy, Samantha, James and Anthony O’Connor, Patrick and Helen O’Sullivan, Jimmy and Mag Coffey, Dolores O’Reilly, ?????, Sheila Curtin and Marie Hickey. ©Photograph: John Reidy 26-6-2024

Glasses were raised and clinked in sincerity, sincere handshakes exchanged and hopes expressed for the commercial future of the house known, since 1963, as Kearney’s Bar as the doors closed on the most recent phase of activity.

Sunday night marked the end of an almost decade long era in the history of the pub at No. 61 Main Street, Castleisland.

The late Scartaglen native Betty O’Connell’s lease on the premises, which began in August 2015, expired and, since her long and brave battle with illness imposed itself, the day to day running of the bar was taken on by a close-knit circle of family and friends.

Unprecedented Level of Pub Closures

On Sunday night, regulars were pinning their hopes against the prevailing backdrop of an unprecedented level of pub closures throughout rural Ireland in recent times.

Generations old pubs, which had survived through the cruelest and hardest times this country ever experienced, have now closed under this current wave of uncertainty.

However as the late great poet Brendan Kennelly – a man born and reared to the life of a pub at the Crooked Cross in Ballylongford – once wrote in his wonderful work:

New Beginnings at No. 61?

“Though we live in a world that dreams of ending, that always seems about to give in, something that will not acknowledge conclusion insists that we forever begin.”

And that may well be the case with Kearney’s as a proposal is being put to the owners this week which might just see new beginnings at No. 61.

Its patrons are holding off on applying for refugee status for now and hoping, with fingers crossed, that all and the thriving Tuesday night traditional music sessions can be saved.

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