Sunday 17 November 2019

Last orders for Droopy's bar

Fethard pub has been trading for 122 years

Droopy’s pub in Fethard-on-Sea
Droopy’s pub in Fethard-on-Sea

David Looby

One of the only pubs in the south east to be in the same family for over a century closed its doors after 122 years in mid-October.

Droopy's bar in Fethard-on-Sea served its customers through two world wars, the Irish rebellion and countless occasions, happy and sad, over the years.

John 'Droopy' Nolan said: 'We're a fourth generation bar and we've had a lot of happy times here and enjoyed our time in it.'

Founded on November 14, 1897, by Eoin Nolan, Nolan's pub was in his lifetime a grocery shop, post office and a pub in the seaside village up until his death on July 23, 1916, aged 60.

His son Eoin Jnr, who was known as Eoinie, ran the pub for 47 years right up until his death aged 84. His son Fred (who was affectionately known as Droopy), in turn, took over running the pub up until June 1997, when he died aged only 57 and so it was that the pub and its previous owner's name, Droopy, passed to John Nolan, 50, who continued serving drinks until mid-October with his team.

Situated on the grounds of a shop which can be traced back to 1853, the characterful old world pub had many characters walk through its doors over the years.

The Nolan pub has been passed down through four generations, each with their own stories to tell. `So many great characters have walked through the doors of Nolan's and Droopy's with their own individual stories, whether they be tall tales or truth, you were always guaranteed a good laugh,' John said in an interview with this newspaper in 2017, ahead of an event marking 120 years of the pub.

The Nolan's used to bottle their own whiskey which was in big demand locally. John's background was as a fisherman. He said standing behind the bar was a big change from wearing oilskins and fishing for days on end off the coast.

Droopy said customers made the atmosphere but due to the loss of a generation of characters over the past two decades, it was a struggle to keep the doors open some weeks, particularly during the winter time. `They come in and give out about the bad weather. You have to be able to enjoy interacting with people and having the craic with them. You have to be a jack of all trades and even a counsellor at times!'

Droopy produced two old worn ledgers showing purchases made by numerous members of the local community in 1898 for ham, tea, sugar, butter, whiskey and other refreshments. Eoinie's handiwork can be seen crossing out debts owed. `There is even an account for the RIC.'

He said: `There is a great history to this pub. We were paying tax to the English state for 23 years before the Irish state was formed and Eoinie died three months after the 1916 Rising.' Situated on the same footprint as the old Nolan farm, Droopy took over in 1997 when the economy was springing back to life. The pub thrived even during the 1980s at a time when the Naomh Seosamh Hotel was booming. `You couldn't get into a pub in Fethard after 8 p.m. it was so busy. There was music in the pubs every night every July and August. Then the recession landed and the whole culture of drinking changed.' He said the stricter drink driving legislation affected business significantly.

Over the years Droopy's pub has been a place of comfort and warmth for fishermen. As with every rural pub close links with the local GAA club is a must and Droopy's was often packed with St Mogue's winning teams. Through `chopping and changing' things at the pub, Droopy had managed to keep the business going but he decided time was up for the landmark business.

The closure of Droopy's follows the closure of Le Baginbun which employed around 22 staff in the village, and as a result comes as a blow to the village.

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