Happy Hour again: Paul Heaton funds free drinks in nine pubs around Ireland

Housemartins singer funds 60 pubs across Ireland and the UK on his 60th birthday

Paul Heaton is celebrating his 60th birthday by funding drinks across Ireland and the UK. Photograph: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

Free drinks were made available in select pubs across Ireland and the UK on Monday, courtesy of one generous musician.

Paul Heaton, former frontman of British indie rock band the Housemartins, had planned a tour of 60 pubs across Ireland and the UK but due to "recording delays caused by the pandemic", he shelved this idea in favour of something else.

"I've decided that the next best way to celebrate this coming of age is to handpick 60 pubs… and put a given amount of money behind the bar of each one," Heaton announced on Twitter.

“Both regulars and [fans] can enjoy a birthday drink on me (until the money runs out, or the bar runs dry!). The hope is to bring people together on the day, whilst recognising that many folk who bought my records or showed me support over the years could do with a wee party as we come out of Covid and hit potential financial struggles.”

Sarah Bryan, Benjamin Ward, Luke Scott and Helen Collett, visiting from Manchester, enjoy a drink as singer Paul Heaton put some money behind the bar at Kehoes, on South Anne Street, in Dublin to mark his 60th birthday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Which Irish pubs were taking part? Heaton listed nine in Ireland:

  • Robinsons Bar, Great Victoria Street, Belfast
  • Eddie Murphys, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
  • Peader O'Donnell's, Waterloo Street, Co Derry
  • The Punters Rest, Cahir, Co Tipperary
  • The Sky on the Ground, Whitewell, Co Wexford
  • Courtney's Bar, Killarney, Co Kerry
  • Kehoes, Anne Street South, Dublin
  • Tig Cóilí, The Latin Quarter, Galway
  • Bonners Corner Bar, Ballybofey, Co Donegal

“If there’s one near you please head over on Monday, show your support and raise a toast to me on my birthday!” Heaton said online.

"I was very sceptical when the email came in," says Brian Murphy, the manager of Courtney's, who was contacted by Heaton's management company. After Courtney's was sent €1,000, he knew this was no joke. Murphy expected to serve about 200 pints with the funds. A birthday cake was also ordered for the occasion.

Ben Lidgitt who lives in Kinsale travelled to Killarney after hearing about the free drinks on Monday morning.

“I’m here for my birthday,” said Lidgitt, who will be 40 next year, with a smile.

Brian Murphy, manager at Courtney’s in Killarney, with their ‘Happy Birthday Paul’ cake.

Asked why he felt Courtney’s was chosen, Murphy replied: “I can only assume he was in here, one of the nights he played in Killarney, perhaps.”

William McGuinness, manager at Peader O’Donnell’s, said by Monday afternoon it was not too busy. “We sent him our bank details and he immediately sent us £1,000, so we’re gonna serve free drinks until that’s exhausted,” he said.

“When our regulars come in, we’ll be making them aware of it and give them a few wee pints each. We’ll try and stretch it out over the course of the day.”

Will it be a mad rush for the free drinks? “[People] weren’t standing waiting to get in outside, it’s just the regulars so far. There’s not a wild rush for it. Monday is a quiet day in Derry.”