‘They say you never miss something until it’s gone’

Local publicans waiting for case numbers to settle


Like many Roscommon businesspeople, Athleague publican, Henry Hamrock, has grown increasingly weary of what he describes as the Government’s ‘Lanigan’s Ball’ approach to lockdown restrictions.

“It has been open and close since last March and we’ve been in and out and back out again,” he said.

“We had a fair inkling that something big was happening in early March of last year but we had absolutely no idea of how long it would go on. No-one knew the path we were on but it’s had a huge impact on us here in terms of our full and part-time staff as well as the loss of routine and daily structure”.

Henry has remained active throughout lockdown but says he misses the daily routine of running Hamrock’s pub.

“Everyone likes a bit of structure and I have been out walking and exercising but miss opening up the bar and meeting the customers and things like that.

  “They say you never miss something until it’s gone and that’s definitely the case here. It’s been a long wait and it’s had a severe effect on myself and my wife Liz, who also works full-time at the pub,” he said.

Addressing the difficult challenges posed by Government restrictions, Henry said: “Look, with the best will in the world, we found it very challenging at times. I’m sure most publicans found it hard to police it to the letter of the law too.

“That atmosphere of meeting up with people is part and parcel of the pub trade. Keeping to yourself with social distancing and time limits is important for public health, but it’s not something publicans and customers could easily get used to, especially in a rural pub,” he said.

As for last year’s stipulation, which required pubs to serve food on site, he added that he didn’t agree with distinguishing between so-called ‘wet’ pubs and those which serve food.

“If we are allowed to open up then we should all open up,” he said, “but I would prefer to see it (a reopening) when the Government and health authorities are comfortable with the case numbers”.

 Henry said the closure of the local pub has had a wide-ranging impact on the locality, both from economical and social standpoints, and that it would be a long time before things could ever go back to normal.

“I can see significant measures in place in terms of social distancing for some time to come,” he said. “But I am looking forward to a return to some sort of normality and welcoming our loyal customers back once again,” he concluded.