Portumna publican’s frustration at boiling point following Government decision

‘Rural pubs are so different. We have no cases locally, and there’s no fear locally’

Eoin Fahy leased Portumna, Co Galway pub, An Caisleán last September, having worked there since he was 15. Following the Government's decision not to allow all pubs to reopen, he now believes it could threaten his livelihood.

“They’re telling us nothing, it’s so frustrating that we don’t even have a date,” said an obviously-upset Mr Fahy, “It’s a kick in the teeth. I have so much stock I’m worried it will be gone off, it’s a huge loss of revenue.

“It’s not fair that they’re treating us all the same. Rural pubs are so different. We have no cases locally, and there’s no fear locally. It’s killing me that restaurants can open, they’re turning over a lot right now.

“With the time limit, there’s someone there to replace them after the two hours. There’s no reason why we couldn’t open and let crowds disperse like the restaurants,” he declared.


Before Covid-19, he says, he relied on a “solid 12 to 20 regulars” during the week. “A lot of bachelors and old men would come in for a chat or to watch the hurling or rugby. I don’t know how they’re coping now.

“It’s been the same guys coming back to us, I see a lot of these guys as grandfathers. Whenever I’d finish an exam in college, they’d always ring to see how I got on, it’s a family sort of atmosphere,” says the 30-year-old.

He has done everything he could to drum up new trade, offering home-delivered cocktail boxes. What started as an experiment for locals expanded more widely after a fortnight: “I just did it to keep the bar’s name alive,” he says.

Each week, he advertised a new ‘cocktail box’ on social media, with a guide offered by a Friday night Zoom session. The €35 box included all ingredients , including drink, glassware, and fresh fruit.

"I didn't think it would be as busy, at the start we presumed it would just be people within our 5km, but we had phone calls from all over Ireland, " said Fahy.

A local, Orla Kelly helped decorate the boxes, while the local butcher, Eugene McEntee and a councillor Ivan Canning each hosted a Zoom cocktail session: "Some people couldn't believe how much was in the boxes, some locals even tried to return the glasses," he said.