Publican Brendan Fay at his Belturbet Bar, The Widows.

Lockdown saw six bars call 'last orders' for good

Six County Cavan pubs decided to call 'last orders' for good and will not reopen, even if permitted by future easing of restrictions.

The stark number was revealed to the Celt by Belturbet-based publican Brendan Fay, who is also an Independent County Councillor.

Cllr Fay, who owns The Widows Bar, has been in close contact with many bar colleagues through social media over the recent weeks and month. He is like many other assigned the 'Wet Pub' moniker, and as a result has not pulled a pint since March 15. Unfortunately for some , the wait for the pandemic to settle has proven too much.

Despite requests made through Cllr Fay, none of the bar owners wished to speak publicly about their decision.

From this Friday (December 4), bars with a kitchen and that serve food will be able to reopen alongside restaurants.

Otherwise bars that don't serve food will be permitted to serve takeaway drinks only.

The option of takeaway drinks does not appeal to Cllr Fay or many of his publican colleagues.

The Widows owner has resolved to wait until restrictions permit him to serve drink in his pub without serving food.

"I'm disappointed we're not getting to open," he says, suspecting that it is damaging part of the prevailing pub culture in Ireland.

"Let the pubs open, and if the pub breaks the rules and there's hundreds in his pub and is having parties - then do what they do in America: close them for five days or 30 days," says Cllr Fay who previously plied his trade in the US before returning home to Ireland.

Cllr Fay though admits to being intrigued by the prospect of not working over the traditionally busiest time of the year.

He believes if the decision to reopen bars is "vaccine bound", as has been mooted, then it could be late Spring/early Summer before they get back to pulling pints.

"I haven't had a Christmas off in 36 years - so in one way I'm looking forward to it and in another way when the reality comes that I'm not opening for Christmas to meet my customers, then," he tails off not wanting to consider it. "Let's look at this in January or February and let everyone open."

It's that wondering if he will be able to adapt to not working in the bar, that Cllr Fay says is shared by those colleagues who intend to remain shut for good. They wonder if they might find they miss the bar life too much not to reopen again.

Cllr Fay dislikes the way the restrictions have divided the industry into gastro pubs and so-called "wet pubs".

"I hate that name," he says of the term 'wet pub'. "I'm a publican."

He suspects vintners will launch a campaign to stop it as he believes it has unwanted connotations with the source of the Coronavirus.

"It's almost like it's entrenched in people's mind - that's where it started in a wet market in Wuhan, and the pubs in Ireland are to blame."