By Loretta Kenny
I was born in 1957 in a small rural village in Co. Wexford. My parents ran a fairly large business which consisted of a Grocery Shop, a Mill and a Public House. I lived over this business until I was nearly twelve years of age and I would like to share with you some of the memories of this time.
The Pub was always a hive of activity. We all had to help out as soon as we were able. Bottling Day was always a big event. The stout came from Guinness in barrels and was brought into the Bottling House. It was then transferred into a large open container which had a number of taps attached to it. The bottles, which would have been washed in hot water and cooled down, would be filled to the brim with beer and then it was my turn to cap them. I can still remember pulling in the cap and pulling down the lever to attach the cap. Then each bottle was labelled with the Guinness label which would also include the name of the publican. The bottles were then lined up on the shelves in an adjoining room ready to be transferred into the bar.
At that time it was only men who frequented the bar. There was a small Lounge adjoining the bar which had a piano but I never heard it being played. An odd lady might use this room but only to wait for the CIE bus which stopped outside.
The Fair Day was held once a month on a Wednesday. Farmers would bring their livestock to the village to be sold and others to purchase. We had a second pub next door which would be opened that day to deal with the crowds. There was a big open fire where the men would sit and tell yarns.
Country pubs had a very healthy day and night trade. Every day, Johnny, a local farmer, would call in for his few pints and when he was served would ask for a small glass and would pour a small amount of beer into it. He would then call my little brother (who was about two at the time and always around) and put him sitting up on the stool next to him and say- “Sure a little drop will do him no harm”.
There were plenty of characters who frequented the pub. The Builder (he was the first person we knew who was declared a millionaire), the Buller (he could get very hot-headed and a fight could follow), Long John (he would travel on his ass and cart), Mucksie (our next door neighbour and my Dad’s right hand man) and many others.
Even on Christmas Day there would be a knock on the hall door after Mass and a few of our good customers would be brought in for their Christmas drinks. When you lived over your business you were always on call.