Kerry publican ‘confident this time’ as Covid restrictions likely to be eased

Gatherings in the Beaufort Bar have whiled away the long winter nights since 1841

Padruig O’Sullivan, proprietor of The Beaufort Bar in Beaufort, Co Kerry: ‘It’s about coming in and escaping from reality and the challenges of everyday living.’ Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

Padruig O’Sullivan, proprietor of The Beaufort Bar in Beaufort, Co Kerry: ‘It’s about coming in and escaping from reality and the challenges of everyday living.’ Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

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“It’s not all about alcohol,” Padruig O’Sullivan, owner of the 180-year-old Beaufort Bar in the foothills of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks near Killarney, said as he welcomed the likely easing of Covid-19 restrictions in coming days.

“I’d have great confidence this time,” he said before adding quickly, “with this present variant.”

The 8pm closing time imposed in December went well for a while, but it was just too early for the pub’s rural community, which includes retired people as well as workers and the farming community.

Gatherings in the Beaufort Bar have whiled away the long winter nights since 1841, and it was this social side that was most missed.

“It was much missed, especially by the elderly retired segment and those living in rural isolation too. For these people to come back, it will take a while, but we will be at the door welcoming them back,” said O’Sullivan.

“We provide a hugely important service. It’s about coming in and escaping from reality and the challenges of everyday living.”

We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be back to ‘regularity’ before the end of the year. I won’t say normal. No one expects normality

The rural pub was about sharing thoughts, in confidence, with the person behind the counter too. “Anything conveyed between publican and customer is highly confidential,” he said.

The Garda had been very active in policing the 8pm closing time, he noted. “I’m confident that people who ran a good operation and have demonstrated this all through the pandemic will succeed.”

That is if they decide not to give up. South and mid-Kerry were lucky, but “a share of pubs” in other parts would not reopen, he said. During the pandemic people in bars for generations had experienced a way of life they had never realised existed and they would not go back .

Customers too had got into different ways and it would take a year to get back to pre-pandemic habits, he expected. “We still have a long road to travel and we are facing many challenges. Closed for two years, we are not going to get back overnight.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be back to ‘regularity’ before the end of the year. I won’t say normal. No one expects normality.”

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