Owner Johnny Gaynor is retiring after 50 years in the hospitality business.
Landmark Wexford pub Gaynor’s, once the childhood home of Opera Festival founder Dr Tom Walsh has gone on the market with the guide price available on application.
The pub situated on the top of Hill Street at Wygram on the crossroads with John Street and the N25 at Newtown Road, has a rich history with a former national claim to fame as the only three-storey thatched building in Ireland.
Owners Johnny and Annette Gaynor are calling time on their involvement in the business which was originally established on the Main Street in Wexford (where Keville’s hair salon is now) in the 1920s by Johnny’s grandfather William, a native of Westmeath, whose name is still over the door.
Johnny’s father Gerard took over the pub after William died and in 1968, he moved to Wygram, purchasing the licensed premises which had been run for five years by the O’Brien family.
Before that, the building was the family business and home of the Walsh’s where Wexford Festival Opera founder, Tom, his sister Nellie and their brother, the actor John ‘Sandy’ Walsh of BBC television drama ‘The Forsyth Saga’-fame, grew up.
Nellie, author of the memoir ‘Tuppence for Sunday’ was the first person to speak on the stage at the very first Opera Festival in the old Theatre Royal, Wexford in 1951.
Many of the earlier features of the house have been retained, including the high ceilings and original staircase and banisters but Annette Gaynor said her favourite part of the property has always been the large ‘secret’ garden at the rear, with old stone walls and fruit trees, which she and Johnny transformed some years ago into a stunning beer garden called ‘The Orchard’.
Johnny (64) grew up in the business and spent 20 years as a chef before helping his father run the business until his death in 2013.
"We are 30 years here. We had a house in Mansfield Drive and we did swap with Johnny’s dad in 1993, – he moved into our house and we moved in here”, said Annette.
The couple modernised and renovated the building with Annette bringing her own style and love of the colour blue to the decor. “ It is a beautiful building and the house is lovely but It was quite old fashioned and I tried to bring it into the 21st century.”
They closed the grocery shop as there was was a general decline in trade for such businesses but a long-established hair salon in another unit is continuing to trade successfully and both commercial units are part of the sale.
They developed the mature garden into a stunning outdoor area which has a seating capacity for 150 people and now it is their ‘greatest asset’, according to Annette, who said 2020 was a terrible year due to Covid restrictions, as they run a ‘wet’ pub but they recouped their losses in 2021 as they had a huge advantage over other premises because of the size of the beer garden.
"It’s a beautiful little haven with the original stone walls. I think some of them are part of the old Town Wall. It really came into its own during Covid when a lot of people discovered it for the first time.
“It was the original garden of the Walsh family. There is huge potential here. We would love to see someone coming in and developing it further.”
Johnny is planning to serve his last pint and retire after a total of 50 years in the hospitality industry. His decision to call it a day began to gestate during the first lockdown when he had time for things other than work.
"He has a little boat and he loves being on the water fishing. I think a lot of people started to look at their lives and make the decision to retire in the past year or two. He’s a long time in hospitality both as a chef and a bar manager.”, said Annette (63) who will continue to work with Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board but ‘will also be happy to retire’ when the time comes.
The couple who have two grown up sons Lee and Robbie plan to continue living in Wexford and will be looking for a new home.
" I will be sorry to leave the garden. Leaving will be bittersweet but there will be a new chapter in our book and we are looking forward to having time to enjoy life a bit more”, she said.
The three-storey property with bar, lounge, off-licence, large modern beer garden with original stone walls, commercial units with street access, large private yard and four-bedroom living accommodation is being sold by private treaty through the offices of John Keane Auctioneers.
The entire site is licensed, making further developments possible subject to the relevant planning approvals.
There is a spacious yard with vehicle access from Hill Street providing secure off-street parking as well as a self contained home gym, offering possible development potential.
The ground floor also includes an original grocery shop with direct access to the bar and street. The other commercial unit currently operates as a hairdressers and can be accessed from its own front door or from the residence.
The upstairs accommodation is spacious with many of the original features including ornate coving, a hand crafted stairs handrail, high ceilings and beautiful fireplaces.
There is an impressive kitchen and four double bedrooms and many of the bedrooms front rooms offer amazing views over Wexford town and harbour.
“This property is presented in outstanding condition and is a turn-key option for investors or occupiers alike”, said John Keane.
" It is rare for a property of such prestige, in this type of location, with a proven track record to come on the market. Viewing is definitely recommended”, he added.