Après match memories at Tadhgs passing
Tadhg Prendiville was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, who passed away only last September 5 and the couple are survived by their daughter, Valerie, and sons, Norman and Albert, relatives and friends. Tadhg marked a half-century of his stewardship of the famous pub in June 1999 and I spoke to him on November 14, 2000, for a supplement in The Kerryman later that year. The
Tadhg Prendiville was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, who passed away only last September 5 and the couple are survived by their daughter, Valerie, and sons, Norman and Albert, relatives and friends.
Tadhg marked a half-century of his stewardship of the famous pub in June 1999 and I spoke to him on November 14, 2000, for a supplement in The Kerryman later that year.
The following is the piece as it appeared at the time:
“Tadhg Prendiville’s Bar at Upper Main Street has been the great dáil in matters of football — Gaelic, that is — for the past half century. Debates begin here, to be carried on in other houses where the code is cherished, before being brought back for final analysis and absolute settlement.
“This is achieved by means of recollections and recourse to a stock of well-preserved publications including match-day programmes. Respected local GAA historian Denny G O’Sullivan readily agrees that he has tapped his flow of knowledge from this particular source and, put in a corner, will refer matters back there for verification.
“But then the man behind the bar is one of a unique handful in this area in that he holds something of which footballers dream — a Kerry senior county championship medal, an honour achieved through the 1950 campaign.
“He was, with his Castleisland District teammates, feted here last April at a commemorative banquet at the River Island Hotel.
“Apart from that he has been in the hot seat of many an open and frank debate since he first stood behind the bar — over half a century ago. On June 10, 1949, Tadhg Prendiville opened the doors of the pub for the first time.
“Events around the world at the time included the retirement of world heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Louis, an attempt by Argentine army chiefs to get rid of the powerful Eva (Evita) Peron, Ireland and India became republics and former US president Harry Truman was trying to quell anti-communist hysteria in America.
“It all seems so long ago but to Tadhg it seems only like last week since he took his first tentative steps as a publican.
“Regular customers at the time were the likes of Paddy Prendiville, Danny Horan and Tommy O’Sullivan from TH Murphy’s. The town workers at the time, in places like McElligott’s, TH’s or the Rhyno Mills, would nearly all come in for a pint or two during their dinner break and again at stopping time in the evening and they’d have earned it that time,” Tadhg recalls.
“ No stranger to standing behind a counter, Tadhg had over five years of experience at Twomey’s drapery shop — or The House of Progress — from 1939 to 1944, and he became an insurance salesman for the five years up the time he decided to take the pub. One of his present-day customers, John McAuliffe, reckons that Tadhg was one of the first people in Kerry, if not in Munster, to rent a pub.
“The famous measure, ‘The Castleisland Medium’, was at the height of its popularity at the time, so one new to the trade had to learn fast when one of the ‘old fellas’ asked you for a medium. You dare not present it in a half-pint glass. Tadhg explained: ‘The Castleisland Medium is supposed to have started in Wrens — where Kearney’s Bar is now and Monny Mac’s was another famous house for it. The measure was filled in a pint glass and the drinker nearly always got a little drop more for his money. If the head was any bit high I’m telling you you’d hear about it,’ he said.
“‘Looking back you’d think the laws were more strict than now. Even on the Sundays long ago, when it was a closed day, it was the done thing to open the door to people who wanted a drink after Mass. I remember one Sunday morning a guard came up to the door and, in fairness to him, he gave us every chance. He knocked at the hall door of the house — when he could have come to the front door of the pub — and the place was full. He took about 30 names and there was another ten or more lying on the floor of the snug but he didn’t bother looking any further, I think I was fined ten shillings that time — but you could tell he didn’t like doing it.’
“Tadhg sees the new licensing laws as a mixed bag: ‘The Sunday opening was a good thing in that it stopped people coming in after Mass and staying in the pub all day. Often they never went home to their dinner and that caused another set of problems. People have more freedom of choice now and they’re using it. I think that the late opening is unnecessary. I have my own crowd coming in here and I don’t think we were opened after midnight at weekends since the laws came in.’
“Tadhg still has one of the old ‘Church Window’ glasses, which was stamped on the first year of his practice. More like a vase than a pint glass, the fluted vessel has achieved a degree of notoriety through Patrick O’Keeffe. While playing in pubs he was known, in times of scarcity, to lower the contents to the top of the ‘window’ and wait for the next one to appear before proceeding downwards.
“Another of Tadhg’s more illustrious customers was the champion cyclist and town plumber, DA Jones. ‘He had his own glass — it was an entirely different shape to the rest — it looked wider and longer but it held just the pint all the same and you wouldn’t even think of filling a drink in any other glass for him,’ recalled Tadhg.”