Michael McDonnell putting up another pint at the Ramblin House in Cootehill, as customers John Paul Mooney and Noel Kiely are glad to have the opportunity to relax at the counter again. John Paul said: “It is great to be back and the publicans are very happy to see us back!”

The craic is back!

Publicans hopeful after lifting of Covid restrictions

The removal of most of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions last week has been described as “like lifting a ball and chain” off the hospitality sector.

Local publicans are hopeful for the future after Friday’s announcement. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the 8pm curfew and limits to the number of people attending events were no longer required in a speech confirming the widest reopening of sectors since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cootehill publican Mickey McDonnell has never seen his business operating without restrictions. Opening the doors of The Ramblin’ House in March 2020, he quickly saw them closed again by the first lockdown.

“We never got any chance. This is the first time we’re open in anything close to normal. The only restriction that’s left is about staff having to wear masks. I don’t see that the mask requirement will last because that’s starting to look a bit silly as well.”

For Mickey, the lifting of the curfew and the dropping of the requirement to have a vaccine passport for hospitality businesses are the two most welcome changes.

“The curfew is good because you had no leeway with the law at all. There was no such thing as drinking up time. You’re supposed to be empty at a certain time.

“The requirement for Covid certs, after a while people get impatient with that. Most of the people coming in, you knew they had certs. Most of the certs were out of date anyway because they didn’t include the boosters.”

Cavan Town publican Peter McGinnity too is looking forward to a return to normality but says many people are still cautious.

“It was good. There was a steady flow of people coming in but it’ll take a wee while to get back to normal. There’s still a reluctance from some people to jump straight back into it but it’s great to have a bit of normality about it again. And to have a conversation about something that’s a bit different to Covid for a change.”

Both are hopeful that this will be the last we see of restrictions on life in Ireland but Mickey warns lessons need to be learned from the pandemic and the country’s ability to look after its citizens.

“I do hope they look back at the level of ICU facilities in this country and try to bring it up to speed. They had a report given to them more than 10 years ago that said we require ‘x’ amount of ICU beds and they never got anywhere near it and if we get caught out on that it brings the whole country to a halt.”


With the week that's in it, check out this new song 'Back to the Craic' by local band Rhythm & Sticks