Famous bars tell Paddy Murray of their plans to survive Covid crisis
It's almost 10 weeks since the shutters came down and the last pint of Guinness was left on the bar counter to settle.
Nobody could have imagined an Ireland without pubs. But since March 15, we haven't had to imagine.
It is only a few years since 'Lonely Planet' said pubs were the single most important attraction for tourists visiting Ireland. We asked the proprietors of some of the country's most iconic pubs about their plans and hopes.
Seán's Bar, Athlone
Seáns Bar in Athlone first opened in 900 AD. It continued to trade as the Battle of Clontarf raged in 1014, but it closed in March 2020.
"We will never change the interior of the pub and the main bar is protected, so we will never, ever interfere with that. We have a very large beer garden at the back of the pub as well as a large decking area upstairs, so we are one of the lucky pubs with this space available to accommodate social distancing.
"There is a large element of wait and see. We are hoping social distance will be reduced from two metres to the WHO recommendation of one metre. Confidence is vital. Customers won't come back unless they feel safe."
It's the only pub WB Yeats ever visited, and caters for regulars and tourists.
Proprietor Mick Quinn is well aware of the situation.
"Public health is paramount," he said. "There can be no shortcuts when it comes to people's health.
"We have three Georgian rooms upstairs, the main bar, the cellar bar and the yard.
"Other European countries have opened restaurants and bars with 1.5 metres of social distancing. If we had the same it would be a great help."
Byrne's of Galloping Green, Dublin
This pub has been a fixture on the Stillorgan Road since 1870. Now its biggest challenges lie ahead.
Manager Paolo Cafolla is aware of what faces them.
"It will be a serious problem if we're limited to 30pc occupancy.
"We have regulars who, after work or after dropping the car home, come here in the early evening to chat to their friends. Will that be able to continue? It's probably as important for them as it is for us.
"Maybe we'll look at something like [booking app] Zazu so people can book a place if they want to come for a drink. Meanwhile, it's gallopinggreen.ie for takeaways!"
Matt Molloy's, Westport
Matt Molloy, publican in Westport and flute player with the Chieftans, says: "I've been touring with the Chieftans for 40 years and I know there is nothing like Irish pubs anywhere in the world. They are an essential part of our tourism offering.
"We won't do anything for a while. But we will not change the interior.
"As for social distancing, we have session music, people arrive carrying an instrument and join in. How is that going to work? It's part of what we are here. The rules aren't clear.
"We have to be careful not to destroy the Irish pub."
Mutton Lane, Cork
Benny McCabe owns several pubs in Cork. But we spoke largely about the famous Mutton Lane pub.
"There is no point in opening until it's logical to do so. The problem now is there are no clear regulations.
"And what of those whose only place to socialise is the pub?
"I call it 'companionable silence' - the lads who sit and sup a pint, happy knowing that they're known."
Dick Mack's, Dingle
Mention Dingle almost anywhere in the world and the response is likely to be 'Dick Mack's'.
The McDonnell family has run the pub for four generations and now, Finn runs it for his uncle Oliver.
"Someone said to me recently that I was very lucky. I just had to go downstairs to that lovely bar and I could pull myself a pint.
"I eventually did. But I didn't even finish it. The penny dropped. Pubs are about people.
"Of course we won't change the interior, though we might spend on the beer garden.
"We're lucky, I suppose. We can afford to sit tight. Others can't."
Lynott's, Achill Island
Lynott's is not only the smallest pub on Achill Island, it's one of the smallest pubs in the country. And that presents a special challenge for proprietor Mick Lynch.
"We rely on summer and tourism, though we are also very much a local pub.
"I think the two metres for social distancing is over the top - and I'm not saying that just because we're small. It's less in other countries.
"It's fine to have rules, but people also need to be responsible for their own safety too."
The Beach Bar, Aughris, Sligo
Darren McDermott's Beach Bar won't open again until August at least. But the restaurant section will open, in line with guidelines, in July.
"The outdoor area may also open, but of course, that's weather permitting," he said.
"Our older customers will miss the bar. I'm not sure they will understand why they can't meet their friends here. For many of them, it is the only place they meet.
"The section of the bar with the fireplace will be off limits, and in the restaurant it's two rows of tables instead of three."