Paul Daly, Irish pub owner, Munich
Paul Daly: “I don’t think there is a more thriving, safer place in Europe at the moment with such a good standard of living as Munich.”
Music has been a subtle signpost at various junctures in Paul Daly’s career. As the man behind some of the most successful Irish pubs in Germany, it was a love of music that first set him on this road.
Leaving Dublin in 1979, Daly’s wanderlust trumped the security of his job as a bank official with AIB. “I knew I didn’t want to stay in the bank for 40 years. I’d always been involved in playing music, so I went off to sow my wild oats.”
Over the next two years, he “had a ball”, playing Irish music on the streets, in pubs and at universities in Paris, Copenhagen and Germany.
Returning to Dublin, he took a management course with then State training agency AnCo, but while playing in a Dublin pub one night, he had a fortuitous meeting with Barney Rush, the composer of such hits as Nancy Spain. “Barney had a pub in Erlangen in southern Germany. He’d been playing in the pub all this time and, in 1983, I took over and played five nights a week.”
Learning German while there and getting experience in the bar, Daly soon realised there was opportunity for him to get into the business himself. Opening his first Irish pub in Regensburg in 1985 proved so successful that he decided to open another in the city centre before someone else did.
“Irish pubs were very popular with Germans at the time. You didn’t need a restaurant then. A good pint and a couple of Irish pictures on the wall were enough to attract people in. But that’s all changed.”
Daly opened the Shamrock pub in Munich in 1989 and, while he moved on from the Regensburg pubs, over the next six years he added a further five to his portfolio. He also started importing products from home. “We wanted Irish products in the pubs and they weren’t available. Self-help became the way forward. We started importing crisps and then got into drinks. We were the first importers of Magners cider into Germany and we got the import franchise for Magners for German-speaking countries, including Austria and Switzerland. ”
Daly says Germans continue to come to Irish pubs for the “friendliness, atmosphere, the opportunity to speak English, to watch football or to have a pint of Guinness”. But Irish pubs have “changed completely” in his time there. Often in prime city centre locations paying high rents, they are not cheap places to drink but they offer quality, good food and entertainment. Smoking restrictions introduced in Germany from 2008 proved a boon for pub food sales, but the Celtic Tiger played a role, too.