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‘We have no voice’


STILL CLOSED FOR BUSINESS Cora Mulroy at the closed bowling alley at Mayo Leisure Point in Castlebar. The government has not allowed bowling alleys to reopen.

Castlebar bowling alley must look on as other sectors reopen

Edwin McGreal

Cora Mulroy is not sure which is more frustrating – the inconsistency of what is allowed to reopen this year or how poorly the message is often communicated.
Cora and her sister Breda Gilvarry run Mayo Leisure Point in Castlebar, which includes a bowling alley, Mayo Movie World cinema, a laser quest complex, Hogs Heaven pub, Garbo’s live music venue, Castle Leisure gym and swimming pool and Nokey’s kids play area.
The bowling alley, Nokey’s and laser complex have been closed for all of 2021 and were only open for three months in 2020 after Covid-19 hit our shores.
Hopes of reopening in early September were knocked back last week with an announcement it will likely be the end of that month, at the earliest, before they can open their doors.
Yet, they can open their pub and cinema.
“It is so frustrating,” Cora told The Mayo News. “The bowling alley is such a controlled environment. We have eight lanes and we only open four to allow for social distancing. Everything is thoroughly cleaned after use. We’ve been given no reason why we have to stay closed yet pubs are open and you can have huge crowds in hotels.
“Ultimately there are only 30 bowling alleys in the country and most of them are individual businesses. We have no voice at all.
“Initially we were grouped with gyms, cinemas and art galleries. Then they reopened and we were moved in with [indoor] pubs and restaurants. Then they reopened and we are now grouped with night clubs. It beggars belief how we could be considered a similar risk to night clubs. It is so frustrating,” she said.

The Mulroy family opened Mayo Roller Bowl in 1993 on the site of the old bacon factory in Castlebar. In the time since, the business has grown and expanded considerably but they’ve never experienced a year like this last one.
They have adapted as best they can. In the coming weeks they are running a series of outdoor gigs at Garbo’s with an impressive line-up (see Living) while when cinemas were closed, they diversified and set-up a drive-in movie business. Even there, they met challenges.
“We had to close down at the end of May because we were told it was considered the same as an indoor cinema even though there is a world of difference … and then one week later all cinemas were allowed to reopen. You couldn’t make it up,” she said.
They’ve lost the busiest months of this year too.
“July and August are the busiest months of the year when the schools are closed, people are on holidays and we’ve lost those months. We’re asking people to staycation yet we’re keeping closed indoor play areas where families can go on wet days.
“Our phones are hopping with people looking to know when we are reopening. We’ve a huge amount of groups who come here and get great benefit from the bowling and they are so eager to get back,” she said.
They made a significant investment in expanding Nokey’s play area in early 2020, right before Covid hit.
“It has been a really tough time. We will have had the bowling alley, Nokey’s and laser open for three months of the past 18, providing we reopen at the end of September, which you could not guarantee.
“You wouldn’t want to see our insurance bill, we’ve had to keep paying that even when we’re closed. The Government supports have been a help but have not even come close to compensating our losses. We want and need to be open and cannot see why we aren’t being let open our doors,” she said.