A Day in the Life: Hugh Corley


COPING WITH COVID Hugh Corley pictured in the oudoor dining area of Corley’s Abbey Lodge in Ballintubber. Hugh, a qualified nurse, has also been helping with the vaccine rollout at the vaccination centre in Breaffy House.

Name: Hugh Corley
Age: 37
Lives: Ballintubber
Occupation: Publican

At the moment, my day starts at 7 o’clock in the morning. We have a bakery here that opens at 9.30. It’s great. The local people all flood in and they grab their coffees and pastries and off they go. We’re very lucky with all the cycling crews, especially the Ballintubber Cycling Club. They all make a stop here on Saturday and Sunday morning and they grab their coffees and head off.
We kept open right through lockdown and offered a takeaway service on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday from the beginning. The local population and our staff have been absolutely amazing, so that kept us sustained right through all the lockdown period. When we were allowed to open up indoors we were also very busy, which is great.
For outdoor dining, I have put in an outside canopy that can probably seat between 40 and 50 people comfortably. We’re doing our best to try and shelter people but keeping it warm is a bit of a challenge. We have heaters put in, but you are heating such a big area that you’re nearly going down the road of getting hot water bottles to try and keep people going!
At the moment we’re only doing the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We would be hoping to open up next month on July 5, but that’s looking very unlikely at the moment.
I’m kind of lucky that I can see both sides of the picture because I’m a nurse by trade originally. Over the last few months, I was asked to go back and give a hand with the vaccine programme in Breaffy House. I’ve been vaccinating the local population as well as serving them food and drinks at the weekend.
One of the main reasons I went back vaccinating was I got a phone call after New Years’ saying that a colleague I had worked with in the UK had passed away after contracting Covid at work. She would’ve been the epitome of an Irish lady that left in the early 70s and 80s to go over there to work. She dedicated her life to healthcare, and she died almost like a martyr to her job. When she died, I said to some other colleagues that if I had some spare time that I’d give a hand with the vaccine programme.
I don’t mind doing it. The sooner people are vaccinated the sooner we get back to normal and the sooner my business resumes in some normal capacity. You’d be in the vaccine centre before 8.30 in the morning and, depending on how busy the clinic is that day, you could be finishing up around five o’clock in the evening. As the weeks go on they are probably going to be going until late evening, depending on if the vaccines are available.
The atmosphere in the vaccine centre is very positive. I haven’t worked in healthcare in a number of years and this is my first step back into it. I have to say, people do give a bit of bad credit to the HSE, but I have to say the HSE and everybody in it should be very proud. It’s been absolutely incredible.
It’s been great talking with people to see how their last few months have been. Some people have enjoyed lockdown, some people haven’t, and there has been a few tragedies. You get to meet all different people. By and large people are very excited when they are getting their vaccines and there is a very positive vibe.
It’s been a busy few months. If I’m not vaccinating, I was here in Ballintubber preparing for outdoor dining. We did a huge amount of work outside putting in all of the canopies. It’s working out fine. I enjoy it.
I think it’s very disappointing that the government haven’t made a decision on indoor dining and haven’t given the hospitality industry enough time to say ‘right, this is happening’. I have no problem in accepting the decision, because I do think the cohort of people that will be coming into the likes of my venue will be between the ages of 20 and 40, and the majority of those people haven’t had their first vaccine. I do think it would be dangerous to be pushing people indoors and them having not had had their first vaccines.
We are facing this Delta variant and it is quite unknown where that might go. It mightn’t pose a huge threat to the younger cohort that aren’t vaccinated, but if they are carrying the virus they are spreading it. That’s the problem.
I’m definitely more anxious about the weather now than I would normally be. We started food at 9.30 this morning (Sunday) with the bakery and then we start outdoor dining at 12.30. I’m constantly watching the skies to see is it going to rain. I feel like I need to have Met Eireann on speed dial just to get an update from them!
I believe next week is going to be fabulous. I would hope that in the next few weeks we might get some good weather and that will make it easier to operate a bigger outdoor service.

In conversation with Oisin McGovern

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do all day?

Study music and sing all day
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I don’t like raw onions

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
I adore the South of France

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I have ate plenty of weird and wonderful foods. There have been some cheeses that have brought a tear to my eye
What makes you angry?

Your first hero?
My Mother

Name three things that are always in your fridge?
White, Rosé and Sparkling … Only kidding. Realistically, milk, butter and eggs.
What makes you nervous?
Unsupervised children

Favourite TV show?
I am looking forward to the next season on the Ozark. I really enjoyed watching Channel 4 ‘It’s a Sin’

Most famous person you’ve met?
I have met plenty of famous people. The one that stood out was the legendary Pat Lally, Ballintubber GAA!

What do you miss most about being a kid?
The lack of responsibility and endless summers

What’s your most prized possession?
Can I described my dog as a possession? If so, my little dog Bobby Joe

Best advice you ever got?
Respect everyone and you should demand respect back in return
Describe yourself in three words?
Loyal, kind, spontaneous
How do you unwind?
Gym, swim, sauna on my day off followed by breakfast and gallons of coffee somewhere in Westport