PROUD DISCIPLES The ‘Twelve Apostles’ sitting around the Last Supper table in Byrne’s Bar last weekend.
Claremorris regulars stand firm
REGULARS in a Claremorris pub, described recently by Pub Spy in the Sunday World, as having tables that were ‘old enough to have been used at the Last Supper’, were singing the praises of their favourite ‘local’ at the weekend.
It was very much a case of ‘Stand By Your Man (and Woman)’ as the regular patrons rallied to the defence of Dick and Dolly Byrne in PJ Byrne’s Pub and Grocery on Main Street.
Pub Spy must have thought he had unearthed something from the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls, such was his indignation as he mauled the place in his review. Clearly, however, he missed out on the unique atmosphere of the pub behind the grocery shop.
Pub Spy wrote: “This place is really something else. It is hidden (and no harm) behind a shop in Claremorris. Had the young commando not gone into the shop to buy chewing gum, we would never have known it existed. He came out very excited to tell us that there was a pub behind the shop.
“It’s an experience, but not one we enjoyed or needed and we won’t be back, although it might be no harm to keep an eye on the place and see if it improves. It cannot get much worse.
“It has a bare concrete floor with tables that look old enough to have been used at the Last Supper. The shelves are cluttered (indeed the whole place is cluttered) with pots and pans and everything else that can collect dust, and it’s really JCB time.
“There are pictures of ‘The Quiet Man’ scenes and things haven’t changed in this premises ever since that film was shot back in 1951. The whole place would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious.”
And were Dick and Dolly Byrne and their patrons upset with Pub Spy? Not in the least. “We’ve had several people call in to see the Last Supper tables, the old photographs and the pots and pans. No one took it seriously. But it has drawn a lot of attention to the place.
“It’s an old-fashioned pub and that’s the way we want to keep it. It’s perfect for us. The young Pub Spy commando mustn’t be long out of nappies. He was probably comparing us with one of the top hotels in Dublin. He wasn’t tuned in to our style down here. We don’t hold that against him,” said Dick Byrne.
Behind the well-stocked grocery, maintaining a tradition handed down through the decades, is the pub at the back. Yes, there’s a photo of John Wayne from the famous Quiet Man film shot in Cong as well as sporting memorabilia, including the Clare hurling team that won the All-Ireland in 1995. (Dolly’s mother is a native of The Banner County). There’s an old Galway car registration and a signpost for the Old Bog Road.
A supplement in The Observer newspaper some time ago listed Byrne’s Bar and Grocery as one of the old-style premises that has clung steadfastly to tradition. It has also featured in a German magazine. Back in 1988, it was the winner of the Best Pint in the West in a competition run by Guinness.
Last Saturday night, patrons were in their element as they enjoyed their regular weekend night out. No generation gap here. The jukebox (yes, there is one) played songs ranging from Johnny Cash and ‘Ring of Fire’ to Westlife (‘You Raise Me Up’) and Seamus Moore (‘I Fell Madly In Love With Clare Morris’) … the latter being the choice of Mick Diskin.
Pub Spy might as well have been on a mission to Mars for all the notice any of these people took of his remarks. Local man Joe Charles, who is manager of the Irish Youths Boxing team that will take on England in Ipswich on Friday night, summed it all up as he and eleven colleagues made up the ‘twelve apostles’ at the Last Supper table. “This place has been here for years. I remember the markets in The Square, the auld bacon outside the shops, the local pubs like Charlie Hanleys, John Gilligan’s and PJ Byrne’s here. I’m going back a long time now.
“A few weeks ago, this young Commando, as they like to call themselves, came into town by train or parachute or however. I don’t know how he came in. Things were not to his fancy. Nothing wrong with that.
“But the one thing I have to say is that we would still welcome him back and would like him to join our company here for a weekend and experience the craic that is here. He can dance, he can roll, and lie down and we’ll pick him up and put him on the Last Supper Table until he wakes up and we can then send him back to Dublin on the next train. I’m one of the auld fellows and I don’t hold a thing against him. If he wants to return, he’ll be welcome like anyone else. Sure he gave us a good laugh anyway.”