A barman who left his job in a well-known Cork pub after the owner told him he was forbidden from speaking Irish on the premises says he “cannot believe” the reaction to his situation.
Cormac Ó Bruic, from an Fheothanach in Corca Dhuibhne, left his job at The Flying Enterprise in August following a disagreement with owner Finbarr O'Shea.
Mr Ó Bruic claims said he was told by the owner that he could not speak Irish in the bar which is located near the South Gate Bridge in the city. Shortly afterwards Mr Ó Bruic stopped working at the pub.
The incident, which initially emerged in Radió na Gaeltachta interview with Mr Ó Bruic, has attracted widespread media attention.
Mr Ó Bruic (24), whose first language is Irish, had worked at the bar for eight months while finishing a degree in Sports Studies and Physical Education at UCC.
Mr Ó Bruic alleges Mr O’Shea said he had received complaints from customers and his pub was an “an English speaking business” and Mr Ó Bruic had no permission to speak Irish in the pub.
Mr Ó Bruic said he had regularly conversed in Irish with some customers and with a colleague who hailed from the same part of the Gaeltacht as himself.
A statement posted on the pub’s facebook page on Friday said: “We currently employ up to seventy people and of them there are six different nationalities who all speak their native language. They respect that while at work the most sensible and practical language to speak is English.”
“We wish to clarify that Cormac was not fired or dismissed nor did we intend to fire or dismiss Cormac in this regard. However while Cormac did initially engage with the HR process he decided to leave before the process was concluded.”
Hundreds of comments were posted on social media throughout the day, the majority of which were critical of the stance adopted by the bar.
Commenting on the reaction to the story, Mr Ó Bruic told The Irish Times: “It is unbelievable altogether - I never expected this to happen”.
“I never expected that a protest would be held outside the pub or that people would write comments on Facebook”
“I don’t wish any ill-will to the pub or anything like that but I am very thankful for the comments made in support of the Irish language.”
Asked about a boycott suggested by some commentators, Mr Ó Bruic said: “Well, I won’t go in (to the pub) - I know that much, but, if others want to go there then that is up to then.”
“On a personal level, there are plenty of places in Cork that are more than happy to welcome everybody, no matter what language they speak.”
Mr Ó Bruic said he has received messages of support from former and current employees.
A protest organised by activist group Misneach was held outside the pub on Friday afternoon while on Saturday, Gael Taca, a Cork-based not-for-profit organisation that promotes the use of Irish in the city, plans to hold a protest at the Sullivan's Quay location this afternoon.