Famous GAA pub Quinn's in Drumcondra has been fined €1,750 after health inspectors found a dead rat, raw sewage and soiled toilet paper in their main stockrooms.
The pub – one of the most popular spots for GAA fans because it of its proximity to Croke Park – is regularly packed on big match days.
However, following a damning hygiene inspection the day after the 2014 All Ireland hurling final, it was ordered to close for 48 hours by Health Service Executive (HSE).
Its owners, Quinn Hospitality Ireland Ireland Operations 2 Ltd, with an address at Church View, Cavan, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking hygiene and foodstuff laws.
Senior environmental health inspector Chris Counihan told Judge John O'Neill that in his 17-years' professional experience he had not seen anything as bad.
Mr Counihan told prosecution solicitor Adrian Lennon that on September 8 last he went to the popular GAA pub, on the Drumcondra Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. He said he found "evidence of rat infestation” in two cellars where drinks were stored.
In one cellar he found a dead rat on the floor and he said no effort had been made to clean it up. There were also rat droppings on the floor as well as fragments of dried sewage and pieces of soiled tissue on the walls and on a manhole cover. Mr Counihan said the dried fragments of toilet paper was a result of over-flowed sewage which contained human waste.
In the poorly lit, cellar there was evidence of “uncovered drainage” and pipes had no “pest protection”. Mr Counihan said, “raw sewage over-flowed from a manhole.”
The manhole had also allowed rats to enter, the court was told. The floor was in a state of disrepair with gaps that could have also let in pests.
Drinks placed in the basement cellar were at risk of contamination from diseases including E.coli, salmonella and hepatitis which are spread by human waste as well as the bacterial infection Leptospirosis which can be carried in rat droppings.
The health inspector gave the court photos showing the rat droppings, human waste and dirty toilet paper. Mr Counihan said there was no pest control and he described the condition of the place as “the worst I've seen” in his 17-years' experience.
In the bar areas, the surfaces were in a “filthy condition”, a sink was filled with tissue paper and cigarette butts and there was mould on fridge doors. There was “extensive rust” in the ice machine and ice was at risk of contamination and a dirty ice scoop was also found.
There was also a large amount of small flies in the back bar area, the court heard. The pub had to be served with a closure notice and remained shut for two days because of “risk of contamination” and all its drinks, worth €25,000, had to be destroyed.
The inspector agreed with defence solicitor Kenneth Morgan that there was no food stored in the pub's basement just alcoholic and soft drinks in kegs, bottles, cans and packaged juices.
He also agreed with the defence that the sewage and rodents were confined to the cellar, the pub had no prior convictions and the gaps in the floor have been filled in with cement. Mr Counihan also said the pub has worked hard to “to remove the grave and immediate danger that was there”.
Judge O'Neill said the condition of the premises was disgusting but noted they had pleaded guilty, had been the subject of the two-day closure order and had not tried to minimise the situation.
He said he noted that the health inspector had visited the pub again last Friday and has confirmed there has been significant progress.
Judge O'Neill imposed a conviction and fines totalling €1,750. The pub owners have also agreed to pay the HSE's costs of €2,000 plus VAT.