Cork pub sells pints for less than 10 cent to mark centenary

The Oval will be pouring glasses of Beamish on Tuesday and selling it at 1918 prices

Oval Bar in Cork will be selling pints of Beamish at 1918 prices. Photograph: William Murphy/Flickr

Oval Bar in Cork will be selling pints of Beamish at 1918 prices. Photograph: William Murphy/Flickr


It may not be Cork’s oldest bar but the Oval on South Main Street is one of the city’s most distinctive watering holes.

To mark the centenary of its opening, staff will be pouring pints of Beamish on Tuesday and selling them at 1918 prices.

Opening its doors the same year as Sinn Féin’s landslide victory in the last all-Ireland general election, the Oval has survived some tumultuous times.

According to historians, Donal and Diarmuid Ó’Drisceoil, the pub was established by Beamish and Crawford brewery management as “a managed house” amid growing concerns about how their product, Beamish stout, was being sold around the city.

The Ó’Drisceoils said publicans in houses tied to the brewery often tried to sell products from a rival brewery as well as succumbing to the temptation to adulterate Beamish products in the pursuit of profits.

“This involved watering down beer, mixing waste or spilled beer with good beer, passing off a weaker beer as something stronger, putting false labels on bottled beers or selling a draught beer as the product of a different brewery.”

Beamish & Crawford wanted to present their porter, stout and ale to their customers in the best condition and commissioned the Cork architectural firm of Chillingworth & Levie to draw up plans for two showcase Beamish and Crawford houses.

One was the former Lane & Co on the corner of Albert Quay and Albert Street (now the Sextant) and the other was the Oval at the corner of Tuckey Street and South Main Street, opposite the brewery.

The Oval is the only pub in Cork city included on a list of important 20th century buildings. Architectural historian, Louise Harrington credits Daniel Levie’s Scottish roots for providing much of the inspiration for the Oval.

She describes the Oval Bar as “preserving a historic style used in the Edwardian era, the Scots Baronial style of elevation may be seen in the uneven roofline, crow-stepped chimney gable, corner turret and tripartite windows with block surrounds.”

Named after the oval shaped ceiling in the main bar, the pub has, despite some modernisation, retained many of its original features with an open fire and cosy nooks and crannies proving highly popular with both locals and visitors to the city alike.

The pub is now owned by Benny McCabe, who purchased it in 2003 from previous owner, Denis Murphy. Mr McCabe will be selling pints of Beamish at 1918 prices on Tuesday night which they “estimate would be the equivalent of seven cents a pint.”

Mr McCabe says he’s particularly conscious of the pub’s unique heritage and the importance of preserving it.

“There are some great old pubs around Beamish and Crawford with a great collective history; they’re not exactly money making machines but they are part of the fabric of Cork city and are full of character and you have to resist the temptation to change with the times in order to bring in new custom.

“The Oval is one of the most beautiful pubs in Ireland really, it’s small but perfectly formed and the best thing to do with an old lady like that is to leave it as it is.

“It’s an honour to have what I term the custodianship of the Oval and it would be a shame to betray any legacy by changing it.”