Dublin pub Jack Nealon’s set to close after a century

Staff at Capel Street venue shocked at move which was ordered by vulture fund owners

Jack Nealon’s, the well-known Dublin pub in business for more than a century on Capel Street is to close in April at the direction of the North American vulture fund owner who purchased the debt on the property. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Staff of Jack Nealon’s, the well-known Dublin pub in business for more than a century, have reacted with shock at the upcoming closure of the bar at the direction of its North American vulture fund owner.

Vincent Waters, who owns the lease on the Capel Street pub, told staff on Monday night that the bar is to close on April 17th.

He was informed by the investment firm, which purchased the debt on the property, that they wish to take back control of the building and do not wish to continue operating it as a public house.

“People are traumatised,” said Andrew Vysidalko, who has managed the bar for the past nine years. “It is a thriving, very successful business. It is not as if it is a place that has experienced a downturn in trade.

“Even in the toughest times when people were losing business we were gaining. For us to hear that it is no longer going to be there in five weeks, it is horrific.”

He described the bar as “a jewel of Capel Street.”

Nine full- and part-time staff face redundancy with the closure of the bar.

Property developer

The loan on Nealon’s, originally borrowed by prolific boom-time property developer Bernard McNamara, moved with the rest of his Irish bank debt to the National Asset Management Agency after the property crash.

Nama sold the loans on the property to the US private equity firm Oaktree last year as part of a portfolio of property loans with a par value of €4.7 billion in the Projects Ruby and Emerald.

Nealon’s enjoys a mix of clientele, from barristers working at the nearby Four Courts to teachers and students from an international school around the corner to the members of Dublin’s LGBT community.

The bar and has a regular customer base of about 1,000 people, according to Mr Vysidalko. It hosts other events as diverse as weekly blues dancing classes in the bar’s upstairs function room to meetings of canary breeders.

The three-storey Victorian corner building was constructed for the wine and spirit merchant John O’Connor and became a pub in 1905. The interior of the building is preserved and its gold gilted ceiling is one of the finest examples of ornate plaster work in a Dublin city centre building.

Employees lamented the closure of a landmark pub at the hands of one of the so-called vulture funds which have snapped up tens of millions of euro of loans in the Irish property market since the financial crisis.

“It is just more money to them,” said one barman at Nealon’s. “It is all about the money.”