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Restaurant loses tourist traffic but locals turn out to support reopen

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Peckish: Shane Larkin serves Martin McInerney and Arthur Holloway at Raftery’s Rest in Kilcolgan in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes

Peckish: Shane Larkin serves Martin McInerney and Arthur Holloway at Raftery’s Rest in Kilcolgan in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes

Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Peckish: Shane Larkin serves Martin McInerney and Arthur Holloway at Raftery’s Rest in Kilcolgan in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes

As restaurants across the country reopen after lockdown both customers and staff are getting used to the new normal.

Shane Larkin (28), who owns Raftery's Rest, in Kilcolgan, Co Galway, is hopeful they can rebuild their business.

"It was a difficult few months. You're looking at a situation where your income was more or less wiped out," he said.

"We are a family business and it was always a pub and restaurant but now in recent years I'd say up to 80pc of our trade would be the restaurant. It's very important to us.

"We have always done a strong passing trade... but more recently we have really benefited from being the first restaurant that people pass when they arrive from Shannon Airport and turn off for the Wild Atlantic Way.

"All that trade is gone for this year, and maybe even next year, so we have to more or less rebuild the whole business from the ground up.

"But we are blessed with our locals. And it was lovely to see a few of them back through the door first thing this morning.

"It's a social thing for them too. A lot of retirement-age people come in here for their breakfast and their dinner and a few pints.

"We would know them all very well and I found myself worrying about them quite a bit... I think a lot of them come in for the chat as much as the food and a few drinks. To lose that social connection is a big thing for people."

Kilcolgan local Martin McEnerney (54) has been eating in Raftery's for years.

He told the Irish Independent he made it his business to come in to support the Larkin family.

"I love coming in here to Raftery's, it's a real community place and I'd hate to see them have to close, so I made it my business to come in on their first day reopened.

"When the pub comes back full-time it will be magic.

"This is a great spot for music and food. You get a great mix of people and tourists love the roaring fire and pints of Guinness. I like that myself.

"The food is great too and I hope people come back and support their local restaurants. You get sick of cooking for yourself.

"After seeing it in action today I know the social distancing side of it is manageable and it shouldn't put people off."

Arthur Holloway (50), also from Kilcolgan, was delighted to grab his lunch and a pint.

"I've drunk in a lot of pubs and I've never found as nice a pub anywhere."

Irish Independent