'It tastes even better than I remember': Lockdown drought ends in Donegal as bars re-open
For Derry man Mickey McLaughlin, it was a long drought.
As he downed his first pint of draught Guinness at The Harbour Bar in Buncrana yesterday, it was everything he had been dreaming of for three months.
“The days couldn’t go in quick enough. It tastes even better than I remember,” the Creggan man said.
Bars serving food in the Republic were allowed to trade again yesterday for the first time since the imposition of lockdown.
There was even speculation that some pubs without a kitchen might start offering snacks for £9 to meet the minimum conditions for reopening.
However, the expected influx was slow to start and the doors of most pubs on the road from Derry to Buncrana remained firmly shut with only bar/restaurants open.
At Tank and Skinnys at Buncrana Pier, James and Christina Quigley from Portstewart were happy to brave the bracing weather to sit outside and enjoy their pints of Guinness.
They have been working right through lockdown but their first week off happily coincided with the return of what Ms Quigley described as “the sweet nectar”.
“We were determined to get a pint. It’s beautiful, creamy. This is a week’s holiday for us so we thought we’d come across,” Mr Quigley said.
Over at The Railway Tavern in Fahan, staff were busy preparing for a 5pm opening with all tables already sold out for last night.
Manager Bob Kriva said everyone was excited about getting back to work even with the new restrictions.
“We’re fully booked for tonight (Monday) and well booked tomorrow and the weekend. About 70 per cent of our bookings are from Derry with the rest from around Buncrana, Fahan and around Inishowen,” he said.
However, it’s a far cry from the crowded pub nights of just four months ago.
Customers have to book in advance, are met at the door by a hostess and taken directly to a table where they must remain for the permitted one hour and 45 minutes as drinks and food are brought to them.
“There’s no ordering pints over the bar but the time should be okay. You’ve an hour and 45 minutes to have your food and enjoy a couple of drinks," Mr Kriva said.
"Most people will be okay with that but I can maybe see problems over the weekend when people want to stay on and they can; there’ll always be one but hopefully people are just delighted to get back and they’ll stick by the rules."
He added: “It’s just good to be back.”